Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
Salazar Announces $53 Million in Grants to Support Habitat Acquisition and Conservation Planning for Endangered Species
Office of the Secretary
WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced more than $53 million in grants to 17 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife, and plants.
The grants, awarded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (Service) Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (CESCF), will benefit numerous imperiled species ranging from the Peninsular bighorn sheep to the Karner blue butterfly.
“Our solid partnerships with states are key to Interior's continued success in preventing the extinction of hundreds of threatened and endangered species, and recovering species, such as the bald eagle, brown pelican, and American alligator,” Secretary Salazar said. “These grant awards will support important state efforts to build and strengthen conservation partnerships, and to conserve and protect vital habitat for threatened and endangered animals and plants.”
Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, the competitive grants enable states to work with private landowners, conservation groups, and other agencies to initiate cost-effective conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat to support the conservation of threatened and endangered species.
“Ensuring the survival of imperiled species depends on long-term partnerships and voluntary landowner participation,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The vital funding provided by these grants empowers landowners and communities to safeguard habitat for threatened and endangered species and foster conservation stewardship efforts for future generations.”
This year, the CESCF will provide approximately $28.6 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, $10.7 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, and $14 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program. The three programs were established to help advance creative partnerships for imperiled species conservation recovery.
Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are agreements between a landowner and the Service. These agreements allow a landowner to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property, even if they may impact 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 jurisdiction and may address multiple species.
Under the HCP Land Acquisition Grants Program, the Service provides grants to states or territories for land acquisition that complements the conservation objectives of approved HCPs.
Among recipients of today's HCP Land Acquisition Grants is the State of Wisconsin, which is receiving a $360,000 grant to fund the Karner Blue Butterfly Land Acquisition project in Jackson County. With this grant, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will protect 240 acres of land within the Bauer-Brockway Barrens State Natural Area and the Jackson County Forest. The addition of these lands will connect existing protected habitats to benefit this disturbance-dependent endangered butterfly and a large number of additional rare species that depend on the barrens ecosystem.
The HCP Planning Assistance Grants Program provides grants to states and territories to support the development of HCPs through the funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach, and similar planning activities.
For example, funds in the amount of $978,439 will support the Development of Habitat Conservation Plans for the Cumberlands Region, Tennessee, project to protect aquatic and forest resources. Several mammals, mussels, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and aquatic invertebrates will benefit from these planning efforts in this ecologically diverse region that is beginning to experience increased development and resource extraction issues.
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 funding for the Chesapeake Bay Puritan Tiger Beetle Habitat Conservation project in Maryland. The State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office, Eastern Shore Conservancy, Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Council, and five private landowners requested funding to purchase permanent conservation easements on six properties. The properties total 456 acres of forestland and eroding cliffs and support three sub-populations of the federally threatened Puritan tiger beetle. One location also supports a large population of the federally threatened northeastern beach tiger beetle. Once acquired, the property will be protected as habitat for the recovery of these species in Maryland.
Another project, under the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program, is the East Maui Watershed Conservation Easement in Hawaii. This grant will fund $391,000 for the acquisition of a permanent conservation easement on over 3,550 acres upslope of the towns of Makawao and Haiku on the Island of Maui. The property is at the center of the 100,000-acre East Maui Watershed Partnership managed by six major landowners. The property provides habitat for 13 rare or endangered birds, including the ‘akohekohe or crested honeycreeper and the Maui parrotbill, which are among the rarest birds in the U.S. It is also critical habitat for Geranium multiflorum and eight other federally listed plants, as well as a number of other rare plants and animals.
The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for America's native fish, wildlife, and plants. The Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, visit http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.