Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Hugh Vickery or Mark Pfeifle
For Immediate Release: September 16, 2003

Secretary Norton Announces $12.9 Million in Grants
To Support Conservation in 40 States and Puerto Rico

Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced that the department has awarded $12.9 million in cost-share grants under President Bush's Cooperative Conservation Initiative to complete 256 conservation projects in conjunction with states, local communities, businesses, landowners, and other partners.

The grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service will fund a wide range of conservation projects ranging from restoring wetland prairie habitat in Oregon to restoring forested wetlands damaged by a tornado in Maryland to building water catchments for endangered bighorn sheep in New Mexico.
The projects involve more than 700 partners in 40 states and Puerto Rico and will conserve or restore more than 50,000 acres. Partners are required at least to match the federal grants, so overall funding for the projects totals more than $35 million.

A state-by-state breakout of the grants announced by Norton today is available on the Interior Department web site,
"If conservation is going to be successful in the 21st century, it must be a partnership between the American people and the government," Norton said. "These Cooperative Conservation Initiative challenge cost-share grants help federal land managers foster partnerships within local communities across America, allowing them to come up with innovative solutions to the complex challenges and leveraging federal dollars with cost-share contributions."

President Bush proposed the challenge cost-share grants as a tool for federal land managers to use in creating cooperative conservation projects. Congress included the $12.9 million as part of the existing challenge cost-share budgets of each of the agencies.

In Oregon, for example, BLM is providing a $150,000 grant that will allow the city of Eugene and other partners to re-establish a historic mosaic of wetlands and upland prairie near the city, providing habitat for the Fender's blue butterfly, migratory birds, and other species of wildlife. The partners are contributing $525,000 to the project in matching funds.

In Maryland, the Fish and Wildlife Service is providing a grant to help the state work with local partners to restore 50 acres of forested wetland at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge that was heavily damaged by a tornado in 2002. The refuge provides important habitat for a variety of bird species as well as the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel.

In New Mexico, BLM is providing a grant to the state and a variety of private partners to construct two1,800-gallon water catchments that will provide water to desert bighorn sheep in the Peloncillo Mountains. Although desert bighorn sheep are adapted to desert environments, human encroachment, invasive weeds and other factors have reduced their access to water. The catchments will reduce mortality, especially during droughts, and help the species recover.
The CCI challenge cost-share grants are part of an overall commitment by the Bush Administration to support cooperative conservation efforts. The administration is proposing more than half a billion dollars to support Interior's cooperative programs in Fiscal Year 2004 (as well as almost $4 billion in the Department of Agriculture's budget for farm conservation programs).

"The most effective conservation projects are the ones that are conceived and carried out at the local level, by the people who live and work on the land," Norton said. "While the nation's banner environmental regulations have helped protect endangered species and move us toward cleaner air and healthier landscapes, frequently the biggest building blocks for sustainable conservation have come from citizens, working alone and in partnerships. Our goal is to empower the American people to become citizen-conservationists, working together to achieve what the government alone cannot achieve."


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