$34.8 Million in grants to support habitat conservation for imperiled species

KEYWORDS: environmental news imperiled species animal habitat conservation grants endangered species cost-share grants Landowner Incentive Program wildlife conservation projects programs LIP grant program landowner incentive program Preble’s meadow jumping mouse black-tailed prairie dog Gunnison sage grouse conserve at-risk fish and wildlife species

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region News Release

Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton today announced $34.8 million in grants to states under a new partnership program to assist private landowners in conserving and restoring the habitat of endangered species and other at-risk plants and animals.

The cost-share grants, part of the administration’s new Landowner Incentive Program, will support innovative partnerships in 42 states. State fish and wildlife agencies, landowners or non-profit groups must put up at least 25 percent of the cost of projects. With these grants, states will be able to provide financial and technical assistance to interested landowners. “For wildlife conservation to be successful, it must be a partnership between the government and the people,” Norton said. “This is especially true with threatened and endangered species, half of which depend on private lands for the majority of their habitat. These grants will enable states to work with landowners and to defray the costs of habitat improvements for imperiled species on their land.”

The Landowner Incentive Program supports the administration’s overall Cooperative Conservation Initiative, which includes a number of conservation grant programs to assist states, tribes, conservation organizations, private landowners and others in conservation projects and programs. President Bush proposed $113.2 million for the Cooperative Conservation Initiative in his Fiscal Year 2004 budget.

“If conservation is going to be successful in the 21(superscript: st) century, we must empower citizen stewards to conserve and protect natural resources while also achieving important community and economic goals,” Norton said. “We must provide new and expanded opportunities for landowners, land managers, and others to participate in projects that foster innovation and create incentives for stewardship. The Landowner Incentive Program accomplishes this.”

The LIP grant program is two-tiered. Grants awarded to states under Tier 1 focus on administrative program needs and may not exceed $180,000 in federal money. U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia may apply for Tier 1 grants of up to $75,000. Tier 2 grants support project implementation. All grants require at least a 25 percent match from non-federal sources.

Many states already have a landowner incentive program. For states that currently do not have a landowner program, the grants will allow them to create one. “We are providing seed money to many states to get their landowner programs off the ground,” Norton said.

For example, the Colorado Division of Wildlife plans to use its LIP funds to focus on Front Range habitat for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, for Eastern short-grass prairie habitat for the black-tailed prairie dog and several bird species, and on Gunnison Basin habitat for the Gunnison sage grouse. Colorado will establish management agreements and seek conservation easements with private landowners to protect and restore these habitats.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources will fund a total of 15 landowner projects on 105,140 acres across five islands. More than 60 wildlife species and 248 plant species of concern will benefit from management actions including the creation of barrier fences, the removal of feral pigs and goats from critical habitat areas, the creation of onsite seed sources for endangered plant species, and the operation of a rotational grazing program to benefit the endangered Hawaiian goose (nene).

Tribes also are eligible for an additional $5 million in grants under the program. Further guidance specific to tribes is currently out for public comment, and grants will be announced in the future.

“These grants are the catalysts to support efforts of local partners to come up with new and better ways to conserve at-risk fish and wildlife species,” said FWS Director Steve Williams. “Through this program, the Service is pooling its resources with private landowners and state wildlife agencies to ensure these species have sufficient habitat.”

A state-by-state list for the Landowner Incentive Program grants can be found at http://www.doi.gov/news/02252003.htm

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For more information on the Landowner Incentive Program, please contact: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Federal Aid, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 140, Arlington, VA 22203; phone (703) 358?2156 or visit the FWS Grants-at- a-Glance web site.


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