WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today announced more than $57.9 million in grants to 23 states and one territory to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants. (a list of states receiving grants is included below) The grants, awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, will benefit numerous species ranging from the red-cockaded woodpecker to the Lake Erie watersnake.
“These grants build long-term partnerships with landowners who help to conserve our nation’s imperiled species,” said Secretary Kempthorne. “They are important tools that empower landowners and communities to safeguard habitat and foster conservation stewardship efforts for future generations.”
Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, the grants enable States to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other agencies to initiate conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat to support the conservation of threatened and endangered species.
This year, the cooperative endangered species fund provides $8.6 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, $35.3 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program and $14 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program, which includes approximately $1.5 million of funds carried over from previous years or recovered from previous projects. The three programs were established to help avoid potential conflicts between the conservation of threatened and endangered species and land development and use.
Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are agreements between a landowner and the Service, allowing a landowner to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property that may result in the death, injury or harassment of a listed species, when that landowner agrees to conservation measures designed to minimize and mitigate the impact of those actions. HCPs may also be developed by a county or state to cover certain activities of all landowners within their own jurisdiction and may address multiple species. There are more than 675 HCPs currently in effect covering nearly 600 species on approximately 42 million acres.
Under the HCP Land Acquisition Program, the Service provides grants to states or territories for land acquisition associated with approved HCPs. The grants are targeted to help landowners who volunteer to conserve imperiled species on their lands. Among recipients of today's HCP Land Acquisition grants is the state of Georgia, which is receiving a $2,000,000 grant to acquire 8,430 acres of mature pine habitat in Decatur County to benefit the red-cockaded woodpecker. The land will be protected in perpetuity as a State Heritage Preserve and will be managed as a State Wildlife Management Area. This project ensures permanent conservation for lands that provide connecting habitat for red-cockaded woodpeckers in this area. This grant also benefits the wood stork, Eastern indigo snake, Flatwoods salamander and state protected species including the gopher tortoise and southern hognose snake.
The HCP Planning Assistance Program provides grants to states and territories to support the development of HCPs through funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach and similar planning activities. For example, the states of Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia will receive $3,007,270 to assist in the development of a landscape level, multi-species HCP covering a 15,500-mile planning area. The HCP will cover 6.4 million acres of land that has the potential to affect 74 federally listed species habitat in a total of 17 states. The NiSource HCP will be designed to avoid and minimize impacts to endangered and threatened species associated with construction, operation and maintenance of its natural gas transmission lines and ancillary facilities running from Louisiana to Indiana, and Ohio and throughout the northeast to Maine. NiSource will work in collaboration with The Conservation Fund, who will lead a strategic conservation planning process that focuses on integrating species needs with potential habitat mitigation across the landscape, providing multiple species benefits and addressing needs in a cumulative and comprehensive fashion. Species expected to benefit from the NiSource HCP include the Indiana bat, copperbelly watersnake and numerous species of federally listed freshwater mussels.
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 is often an essential element of a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species. One of this year’s grants will provide $1,471,500 to acquire a conservation easement over 654 acres of high-priority private forestland in the Kootenai Valley of northern Idaho. The property provides a critical link between the higher elevation public lands of the Selkirk Mountains and more than 2,000 acres of low-elevation protected areas owned by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Vital Ground Foundation and the Owens Foundation for Wildlife Conservation. The protection of this property will contribute to the recovery of grizzly bear, mountain caribou, bull trout, Canada lynx, and gray wolf.
Below is a list of the states that received funding and the amount awarded for species conservation.
|Tennessee and Kentucky||$129,150|
Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia
For a complete list of the 2008 grant awards for these programs (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 15.615), see the Service's Endangered Species Grants home page at http://endangered.fws.gov/grants/section6/index.html.