Grants awarded by conservation group support land protection projects throughout Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Trout Unlimited issued its first-ever Coldwater Land Conservancy Fund grants to land trusts seeking to acquire land and conservation easements that protect native trout habitat in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The grants, totaling over $53,000, will fund projects to protect Eastern brook trout habitat. The funding comes from a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Five grants were awarded to organizations in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Grant recipients include the Finger Lakes Land Trust in New York, the Lancaster County Conservancy in Pennsylvania and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.
The grants will pay for conservation easement and land transaction costs, including appraisals, boundary surveys and attorneys' fees.
"Trout Unlimited has long recognized the importance of private land conservation as a tool to protect coldwater fisheries," said Elizabeth Maclin, vice president for Eastern conservation at Trout Unlimited. "These grants allow us to put this philosophy into practice throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed where loss of native brook trout has been particularly severe" Maclin said.
The Finger Lakes Land Trust will use its grant for a 128-acre conservation easement project on the East Branch of Owego Creek near Richford, N.Y. The creek lies in a portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed designated as "best for protection" by the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, a collaboration of agencies and non-profits seeking to protect, restore and enhance brook trout populations throughout their historic range. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation holds public fishing rights on lands adjacent to the parcel and has expressed an interest in acquiring them on this parcel if successfully preserved by the Trust.
Three grants to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation totaling just over $29,000 will be used to acquire conservation easements on brook trout streams in Bath, Highland and Roanoke counties. One conservation easement will be acquired by the foundation on the upper Jackson River south of Monterey, Va.
The Lancaster County Conservancy will use its $12,000 grant toward the acquisition of land for a 75-acre publicly-accessible nature preserve in the Pequea Creek watershed in Martic Township.
Additional Coldwater Land Conservancy Fund grants are available for land and conservation easement projects in 2012. For more information about the next cycle of grants and to download the request for proposals, visit http://www.tu.org/easternlandprotection/chesapeake-bay-coldwater-land-conservancy-fund.
The Coldwater Land Conservancy Fund was established in 2010 to help Trout Unlimited achieve its strategic plan commitment to protect key watersheds and riparian areas on private lands. Land trusts or government agencies in need of funding to protect trout and salmon habitat through land or conservation easement acquisition may apply to Trout Unlimited for Coldwater Land Conservancy Fund support after first seeking the endorsement of a Trout Unlimited chapter or state council. Trout Unlimited intends to broaden the Fund’s geographic scope over time as it demonstrates success in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.