Conservation Planning And Habitat Acquisition Granted $70.5 Million By Doi
More than $70.5 million in grants to 26 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife, and plant species has been announced by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The grants, awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, will benefit species throughout the United States ranging from mussels to bull trout.
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.
The cooperative endangered species fund this year provides $8.5 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program; $48.6 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program; and $13.4 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program.
The three programs were established to help reduce potential conflicts between the conservation of threatened and endangered species and land development and use.
Under the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Program, the Service provides grants to States or Territories for land acquisitions associated with approved Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs).
These HCPs, which are agreements between a landowner and the Service, allow a landowner to incidentally take threatened or endangered species in the course of otherwise lawful activities when that landowner agrees to conservation measures designed to minimize and mitigate the impact of taking.
HCPs may also be developed by a county or state to cover certain activities of all landowners within their own jurisdiction; it may address multiple species.
There are more than 469 HCPs currently in effect covering 588 separate species on approximately 40 million acres. The grants are targeted to help landowners who want to undertake proactive conservation work on their lands to conserve imperiled species.
Among recipients of today’s Habitat Conservation Land Acquisition grants is the State of Washington, with a $7,417,805 grant to purchase habitat to support the Plum Creek Central Cascades Habitat Conservation Plan. In Yakima County, permanent habitat protection will be provided for bird, mammal, amphibian, and fish species on approximately 7,000 acres of contiguous mature ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, and riparian habitats in the Tieton River Canyon.
In Kittitas County, this funding will purchase and permanently protect 297 acres of forested hillside on Amabilis Mountain and adjacent areas that flow into Swamp Lake within the Yakima River Watershed.
Protection of these lands would protect the north/south wildlife corridor that runs between Keechelus and Kachess Lakes and provide habitat for marbled murrelet, spotted owl, and numerous terrestrial species.
This grant will also result in the purchase of 600 acres in Okanogan County that will be added to a regional conservation project protecting over 6,000 acres and 10 miles of stream frontage of mature conifer and riparian habitat corridors used by 40 priority species including northern potted owls, grizzly bears, gray wolves, lynx, bull trout, and salmon in the Methow River Watershed.
The Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Program provides grants to States and Territories to support the development of Habitat Conservation Plans, through funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach, and similar planning activities.
In Indiana and Michigan, for example, an $880,000 HCP Planning Assistance Grant will allow planning to begin for a Multi-State Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly Habitat Conservation Plan to be developed jointly by the Indiana and Michigan Departments of Natural Resources through a 3-year planning process.
The plan is needed to efficiently secure incidental take permits to conduct management activities for this endangered butterfly in occupied habitat. A broad stakeholder group is currently working towards recovery of the species as part of the Mitchell’s satyr butterfly working group.
The Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program provides funds to states and territories to acquire habitat for endangered and threatened species in approved recovery plans. Acquisition of habitat 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 $438,969 to preserve a portion of the approximately 4,000-acre Corbett Ranch in Willacy County, Texas.
The parcel features dense thornscrub that is optimum endangered ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) habitat, and is the largest continuous patch of ocelot habitat remaining on private land in the Rio Grande Valley. This ranch also contains thousands of individuals of endangered Texas ayenia shrub (Ayenia limitaris), which may constitute the largest known population in the United States.
Additionally, a portion of the northern shore of La Sal Vieja, one of only three hypersaline inland lakes in South Texas, will be preserved. This lake supports Western snowy plovers, long-billed curlews, and least terns.