The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced $16.5 million in grants to support 21 critical coastal wetland projects in 12 states and Puerto Rico under the National Coastal Grants Wetlands Conservation Grants Program.
State and local governments, private landowners, conservation
groups and other partners will contribute an additional $18.2 million to
these projects, which include acquiring, restoring or enhancing coastal
wetlands and adjacent uplands to provide long-term conservation
benefits to fish and wildlife and their habitats.
“Coastal wetlands not only provide key habitat for fish and
wildlife but they also improve water quality, support local economies
through jobs and provide flood protection,” Jewell said. “These grants,
funded through excise taxes paid by anglers and boaters, give us the
opportunity to join with states and territories and other partners to
conserve and restore these areas that are so vital to our environment
and our quality of life.”
Coastal wetlands comprise less than 10 percent of the nation’s
land area yet support a significant number of wildlife species,
including 75 percent of migratory birds, nearly 80 percent of fish and
shellfish, and about half of all our threatened and endangered species.
Wetlands in coastal watersheds in the U.S. are experiencing a net annual
loss of about 80,160 acres according to a new study by the Service.
“With the latest data showing dramatic annual loss of coastal
wetlands, these grants become even more important,” Ashe said. “These
wetlands are invaluable resources we must protect, and, with these
grants, states, territories and partners will be able to undertake high
States and territories receiving funds are Alabama, Alaska,
California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, North
Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and the Commonwealth of Puerto
Rico. The complete list of projects funded by the 2014 grant program can
be found here
The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program is
administered by the Service and funded under provisions of the 1990
Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act. Funding is
provided by Sport Fish Restoration Act revenue – money generated from an
excise tax on fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels
The Service awards grants of up to $1 million to states based on a
national competition, which allows states to determine and address
their highest conservation priorities in coastal areas
Since 1992, the Service has awarded $336 million in grants under the program.
Examples of projects receiving grants today are:
Lillian Swamp Wetlands
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
(ADCNR) is awarded $464,750 to acquire the 675-acre Lillian Swamp
Wetlands tract as an addition to the Lillian Swamp Wetlands Complex. The
wetlands complex lies within the Perdido River Coastal Area at the
mouth of the Perdido River and borders Perdido Bay. Acquisition of this
tract will support the goals of multiple federal, state, and other
agencies to protect sensitive species and their habitats. The ADCNR has
recommended this area as a Geographical Area of Particular Concern
(GAPC), which are managed according to conservation plans. The wetlands
have also been designated as a Gulf Ecological Management Site (GEMS),
which means that it is considered to be important to the environmental
quality of the Gulf of Mexico. Perdido Bay has also been identified as a
conservation priority in Alabama’s Wildlife Conservation Strategy and
by the Northern Gulf Coast Wetlands Planning Program.
Popes Creek Coastal Wetland Conservation
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) is awarded
an $1 million grant to permanently protect 220 acres of marsh,
palustrine wetlands, and forested land in burg, Charles County,
Maryland. The property will be acquired through fee simple purchase,
with the property to be held and managed by Charles County Department of
Parks and Recreation. The property contains 92 acres of upland forest
and 128 acres of wetlands, as well as some open water and beach front.
Popes Creek is a conservation focus area, having been identified by MD
DNR as both a Targeted Ecological Area and a Natural Heritage Area. It
lies within the Zekiah Swamp area, which is a priority protection for
the USFWS Chesapeake Bay Program, MD DNR, and Charles County. Plans for
the site also include the creation of a biking/walking trail along an
abandoned railway bed.
South Slough Shorelands Project
The Oregon Department of State Lands, partnering with Coos
Watershed Association and the South Coast Land Conservancy, is awarded
$1 million to acquire and permanently protect 596 acres of estuarine
wetland habitats in South Slough in Oregon's Coos Estuary. South Slough
is the site of a longstanding effort to conserve estuarine wetland
habitat. The project site is adjacent to South Slough National Estuary
Research Reserve and state protected lands. The project site contains
tidally influenced coastal wetlands, adjoining coastal fresh water
wetlands, and forested uplands. This project supports goals of multiple
management plans and will benefit numerous wildlife and plant species,
including shorebirds, harbor seals, shellfish, and federally listed coho
salmon and western bog lilies. It also is identified as a priority in
the Oregon Strategic Plans for the Coastal Program and the Partners for
Fish and Wildlife Program and the 1994 Pacific Coast Joint Venture 1994
Implementation Plan for the Southern Oregon Focus Area.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working
with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants,
and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife
conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands
and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to
public service. For more information on our work and the people who
make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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