The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is awarding $37.2 million in grants to 20 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered species across the nation.
Authorized under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), these competitive grants enable states to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other government agencies to initiate conservation planning efforts and acquire or protect habitat for the conservation of threatened and endangered species.
The grants are funded in part by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was established by Congress in 1964. The fund promotes access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations and provides money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans.
CESCF grant funding is provided through three programs that advance creative partnerships for the recovery of imperiled species: the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, and Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program.
This year, the program will allocate approximately $4.7 million in grants. Under one such grant, the state of Florida will receive $750,000 to complete a statewide HCP for Florida beaches. The goal of this HCP is to allow ongoing beach structure protection measures while limiting and mitigating the adverse effects to nesting loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, green and hawksbill sea turtles, five beach mouse subspecies, and shorebirds, including wintering piping plovers.
Under the HCP Land Acquisition Grants Program, the Service provides grants to states or territories for land acquisitions that complement the conservation objectives of approved HCPs.
Nearly $20.3 million will be allocated under this program in 2015. For example, Washington state will receive $2 million to support the permanent protection of up to 1,014 acres of habitat for federally listed species including bull trout, northern spotted owl, Canada lynx and gray wolf. Acquisition of this land by the state will improve connectivity for 60 species of terrestrial vertebrates, including wolverine, marten and Pacific giant salamander, and enhance the effectiveness of the new fish and wildlife crossing structures on the adjacent I-90 freeway.
The Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program provides funds to states and territories to acquire habitat for endangered and threatened species with approved recovery plans. Habitat acquisition to secure long-term protection often is an essential element of a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species.
One of this year’s grants, which total $12.2 million, will provide $500,000 to New Jersey for the acquisition of up to 48 acres in Morris County to protect critical habitat for the federally listed Indiana bat. The property contains one of only two Indiana bat hibernacula within the New Jersey Highlands.
For a complete list of the 2015 grant awards, see www.fws.gov/endangered/grants/index.html.
source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service