$14 Million in Grants Awarded to California
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced that California will receive more than $14 million in grants to help advance their collaborative efforts to conserve America’s rarest species. The Golden State is one of 20 states to receive nearly $35 million in cooperative grants, providing vital support to state wildlife agencies and conservation organizations to improve the health of the land and water that supports these species and scores of communities across the nation.
Issued through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (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 that benefits threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants.
“Future generations are counting on us to conserve the wild things and wild places that are not only a vital part of our national identity, but also our economic security and our way of life,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “The Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund grants are catalysts for partnerships and voluntary conservation efforts at the local level, an essential component of successful endangered species recovery.”
“Private landowners and natural resource managers are the linchpin for the conservation of many of our most threatened species,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “By fostering partnerships between federal, state and local governments, private organizations, and individuals, we can pool our resources to develop creative solutions that will drive critical conservation and recovery efforts. These grants are one of many tools available under the Endangered Species Act and we look forward to providing continued guidance and support for these programs.”
The grant funding is provided through programs established to help advance creative partnerships for the recovery of imperiled species. This year, the fund will allocate approximately $7.4 million in grants through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program; nearly $18 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, and $9.5 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program.
A complete list of the 2014 grant awards under these programs (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 15.615) is available online at: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/grants/
Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are agreements between a landowner and the Service that allow a landowner to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property, even if they may impact listed species. In return, the 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 acquisitions that complement the conservation objectives of approved HCPs.
For example, California will receive $2 million to support the acquisition of 1,881 acres in Santa Clara County that will protect key serpentine grassland habitat and associated species, such as the federally listed Bay checkerspot butterfly, as well as other listed species including California tiger salamander and California red-legged frog. The property is a key acquisition for the NCCP/HCP, and fits into a local assemblage of publicly and privately protected lands which complement a suite of other organizations’ conservation goals for the Mount Hamilton region, including The Nature Conservancy, Peninsula Open Space Trust, Silicon Valley Land Conservancy and others. Purchase of this property will secure a vital linkage between the Santa Cruz Mountains and Mount Hamilton Range through the Coyote Valley.
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, California will use a grant of $675,345 to support the development of the Upper Santa Ana River HCP which seeks to balance conservation of primarily aquatic species with the effects from water infrastructure and maintenance activities. The Upper Santa Ana River HCP will include conservation and restoration of habitat at different locations throughout Santa Ana River watershed in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Conservation efforts associated with the HCP will focus on restoring aquatic, riparian and adjacent upland habitat and protecting the proposed 16 or more covered species including Santa Ana Sucker, coastal California gnatcatcher, Delhi Sands flower-loving fly and others.
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 result in the acquisition and permanent protection of developable land located within the City of San Diego that abuts the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. All of the parcels support habitat and provide for habitat restoration opportunities that would benefit listed and sensitive species including the State and federally listed endangered California least tern, light-footed clapper rail, salt marsh bird’s-beak and the federally listed threatened western snowy plover. The parcels also provide habitat for the delisted California brown pelican, as well as multiple other species that are the focus of state and federal conservation efforts. Additionally, acquisition and restoration of these properties will provide a buffer between urban development and habitat important for the conservation of the species identified above.
The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. 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 www.fws.gov/endangered.
Logo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service