Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Hugh Vickery, DOI
For Immediate Release: May 24, 2004
Secretary Norton Announces $21 Million in Grants
To Support Conservation in 43 States

(WASHINGTON) - Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced that the department is awarding $21 million in challenge cost-share grants under President Bush's Cooperative Conservation Initiative to complete 377 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, from conserving bighorn sheep in Arizona to protecting bat caves in Missouri to battling invasive species on a national battlefield in South Carolina.

The projects involve more than 1,100 partners in 43 states and will conserve, restore or enhance more than 565,000 acres. Overall funding for the projects totals more than $52 million, including the matching contributions of partners.

A state-by-state breakout of the grants announced by Norton today is available at the Interior Department Web site,

"The goal of the Cooperative Conservation Initiative is to empower federal land managers to form partnerships within local communities to better care for the land and its wildlife," Norton said. "By promoting these partnerships, we not only leverage federal conservation dollars with private funds but also tap into the ingenuity and local knowledge of the people who live and work on the land."

President Bush proposed the cooperative conservation challenge cost-share grants in 2003 as a tool for federal land managers to use in creating cooperative conservation projects. Last year, the three agencies awarded $12.9 million in grants in 40 states and Puerto Rico. For Fiscal Year 2004, the President proposed and Congress appropriated an increase of more than $8 million, or 62 percent, in the program.

Overall, the department has awarded nearly $34 million in grants over the past two years to help more than 1,900 partners complete 633 projects. These projects have conserved, restored or enhanced more than 700,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

In Arizona, for example, Bureau of Land Management is providing an $11,500 grant to the state to repair water catchments for desert bighorn sheep. The Arizona Game and Fish Society and the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society are contributing $27,500 to the project, which began last year with a $14,000 Cooperative Conservation Initiative grant.

In Missouri, the Fish and Wildlife Service is providing a $24,000 grant to protect and conserve caves vital to endangered bat species. The partners, which include the Missouri Department of Conservation, the LAD Foundation, the Missouri Cave and Karst Conservancy, the Cave Research Foundation and the Missouri Speleological Society, are matching the grant dollar for dollar. This expands the work begun last year under a $3,000 grant.

In South Carolina, the National Park Service is providing $11,200 to inventory, map and treat invasive non-native plant species at Kings Mountain National Military Park. The partners that are matching the grant include the Student Conservation Association and the Kings Mountain Brigade of Friends.

The Cooperative Conservation Initiative challenge cost-share grants are part of an overall commitment by the Bush administration to support cooperative conservation efforts. Over the past three years, the Interior Department has provided more than $1.3 billion in grants to states, tribes, local governments and private landowners.

The projects supported by these grants have restored millions of acres of habitat, removed invasive exotic species, replanted native grasses, improved riparian habitat along thousands of miles of streams, conserved limited water resources and developed conservation plans for endangered species and their habitat.

The President is proposing to build on this success in his Fiscal Year 2005 budget, which includes more than $507 million to support Interior's cooperative conservation programs.

"The power of partnership produces results for conservation that far exceed the dollars we put into these partnerships," Norton said. "By empowering citizens, we are tapping into the greatest conservation resource we have - the American people themselves - and helping them to become citizen-conservationists."


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