The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday announced nearly $33 million in grants to 21 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants awarded through its Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund.
The grants are intended to benefit numerous species, ranging from the Peninsular bighorn sheep to Kirtland’s warbler to lamprey, chinook salmon and bull trout.
“Our strong partnerships with states, landowners and local communities are the key to the successful protection and recovery of threatened and endangered species, and these grants will fund important conservation work,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “While dozens of imperiled species will benefit from these efforts, improving the health of our land and water will also help the people, communities and economies that depend on these resources.”
Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, these competitive grants enable states to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other government agencies to initiate 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 is matched by the states and leveraged to great advantage in helping conserve and recover some of the most imperiled wildlife in the country.”
This year, the Cooperative Endangered Species Fund provides approximately $9.5 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, $15 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, and $8.5 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program.
The three programs were established to help advance creative partnerships for imperiled species conservation recovery. A complete list of the 2012 grant awards under these programs (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 15.615) is available online at: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/grants/index.html.
Habitat Conservation Plans are agreements between a landowner and the USFWS. 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.
In the Pacific Region, for example, the State of Washington will receive $3.7 million to protect 4,160 acres in southern Asotin County that support federally listed bull trout and steelhead as well as the unlisted interior redband trout, elk, bighorn sheep, deer and golden eagles.
In Oregon, a $1.3 million grant will help acquire 602 acres in Benton County to protect upland prairie, oak woodland and wetland prairie habitats critical to the stability and recovery of Fender’s blue butterfly, Kincaid’s lupine, Bradshaw’s lomatium, Willamette daisy and Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. The properties targeted for acquisition will link and aggregate properties that have similar, important
The HCP Planning Assistance Grants Program provides grants to states and territories to support the development of HCPs through funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach and similar planning activities.
For example, $407,000 from this grant will continue the work of seven primary irrigation districts in the Deschutes Basin and the City of Prineville in the development of an HCP that will benefit aquatic and riparian-dependent species in the upper Deschutes Basin, including bull trout and steelhead, while meeting current and future irrigation and municipal water needs in a balanced, economically viable, and sustainable manner.
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 $1.2 million to enable the State of Hawaii to acquire 3,128 acres of sensitive coastal habitat, including more than a mile of coastline on the southern coast of the island of Hawaii. These beaches are important habitat for hawksbill turtles, green turtles, and Hawaiian monk seals. The property is adjacent to the largest natural area reserve in the state and will provide landscape-level protection of the area’s unique ecosystems and habitats.
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/.
Following is a list of grant awards to entities in the Pacific Northwest:
Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants by State:
Bald Hill Farm and Mary’s River Watershed (Benton County) $1,259,000.
This project will acquire and permanently protect 602 acres of upland prairie, oak woodland and wetland prairie habitats critical to the stability and recovery of Fender’s blue butterfly, Kincaid’s lupine, Bradshaw’s lomatium, Willamette daisy and Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. The properties targeted for acquisition will link and aggregate properties that have similar, important conservation values across a landscape that has experienced considerable fragmentation and development, yet remains a key area for populations of prairie species. The Greenbelt Land Trust and the Benton County, as subgrantees of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, will acquire and protect the property in perpetuity.
Mountain View 4-O Ranch (Asotin County) $3,700,000.
This project will protect 4,160 acres in southern Asotin County, including four miles of bull trout critical habitat along the lower Grande Ronde River and three miles or riparian habitat along Cougar Creek. The Grande Ronde is a tributary to the Snake River. This acquisition is part of a larger, landscape-level conservation effort that will protect over 13,000 acres of important habitat lands and 15 miles of streams.
The project encompasses a large, ecologically intact and diverse landscape which contains riparian as well as upland habitats, including cliff and talus habitats, meadows, springs, curl-leaf mahogany shrubland, interior grassland, and Ponderosa pine woodland. Protected habitats support federally listed gray wolf, bull trout, and steelhead as well as the unlisted interior redband trout, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, and golden eagles.
The project is bordered on the north by Forest Service lands, and the south and east by Bureau of Land Management lands.
Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants by State:
Interior Least Tern and Piping Plover: Inclusion in the Great Plains Wind Energy Habitat
Conservation Plan (MT, ND, SD, NE, KS, CO, OK, TX, NM) $999,989.
This multi-state and multi-regional planning assistance grant will support the inclusion of the least tern and piping plover into the development of the Great Plains Wind Energy HCP and ensure the adequate conservation of these species through measures to minimize and offset impacts from wind energy development. These efforts will enhance the ongoing development of a comprehensive strategy to protect listed and candidate species, including the whooping crane and lesser prairie-chicken, while supporting responsible renewable energy development in the Great Plains. This HCP represents a ground-breaking effort involving a large partnership between 19 wind companies, nine states, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Deschutes Basin Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan (Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, Klamath, Wasco, and Sherman counties) $407,000.
This funding will continue the work of seven primary irrigation districts in the Deschutes Basin and the City of Prineville in the development of an HCP that will benefit aquatic and riparian-dependent species in the upper Deschutes Basin, including bull trout and steelhead, while meeting current and future irrigation and municipal water needs in a balanced, economically viable, and sustainable manner. Once completed, the HCP will provide ecosystem benefits to large areas of the upper Deschutes River basin, including the Metolius, Crooked, and Deschutes river basins.
Oregon Department of Transportation Right-of-Way Habitat Conservation Plan (All Counties, Oregon) $127,067.
Funding for this project will complete a state-wide HCP covering roughly 75,000 acres of state-managed highway right-of-ways. The HCP will allow the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon Department of Transportation to focus on protection and mitigation measures in ways that enhance existing habitat and the ecological function of listed species in right-of-way areas.
Species that will benefit from this HCP include two listed butterflies, Fender’s blue butterfly and Oregon silverspot, and 14 listed plant species, including Willamette daisy and Bradshaw’s lomatium. A variety of at-risk habitat types will benefit from the implementation of this HCP, including grasslands, wetlands, coastal dunes, and sagebrush.
Yamhill County Private Lands Habitat Conservation Plan for Upland Prairie Species, Phase II (Yamhill County) $292,611.
This grant will allow the Yamhill County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to complete the development of an HCP for remnant prairie sites on private lands. The HCP will benefit the Fender’s blue and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies. The locally-led Yamhill SWCD is committed to protecting, preserving, and restoring habitat for rare and endangered species while increasing public awareness about prairie conservation. By working collaboratively with landowners, stakeholders, wildlife agencies and other local organizations, the Yamhill SWCD HCP will provide an ecosystem approach to conservation and a process that works for both landowners and rare species.
South Puget Sound Prairie Habitat Conservation Plan (Thurston County) $750,000.
This project will initiate the development of an HCP for the best remaining prairie habitats and restoration sites in South Puget Sound. It will identify the set of tools necessary to supplement more traditional conservation strategies to achieve the long-term preservation of a network of habitats needed for the survival of up to 18 species, such as the threatened golden paintbrush and water howellia, as well as the mardon skipper, Mazama pocket gopher, and other Species of Concern.
* indicates partial funding
Recovery Land Acquisition Grants by State:
Upper Sevenmile Creek Flow Restoration Easement* (Klamath County) $650,000.
This funding will help acquire a conservation easement on the JaCox Ranch that will permanently transfer water rights to in-stream flow in order to restore year-round hydrologic connectivity to Sevenmile Creek. The existing water rights allow for the diversion of the entire summer flow of Sevenmile Creek, dewatering two miles of important habitat and disconnecting upstream and downstream pristine habitat.
The acquisition will restore hydrologic connectivity and fish passage in an important area for endangered bull trout, increase lake levels and improve access to cold-water springs and wetland refugial habitats during the late summer period for the protection of endangered Lost River and shortnose sucker, and will provide benefits to multiple other species in the middle and lower reaches of the Klamath River basin, including lamprey, chinook and the federally listed coho salmon.