In addition to providing regulatory protections that have successfully prevented the extinction of hundreds of species, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) also provides millions of dollars in funding each year for conservation efforts through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (CESCF). This year, threatened and endangered species in 20 states will benefit from $44.8 million in grants from the fund. Authorized under Section 6 of the ESA, the CESCF enables states to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other government agencies to develop projects that protect federally-listed species and their habitats.
“If our children are to inherit a world with something called a leatherback sea turtle, northern long-eared bat or California tiger salamander, we need to commit to conservation at every level,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “By strategically investing in projects that have a proven track record of success, we are putting our limited resources to the most effective use and building a sustainable conservation legacy.”
“These grants will enable state fish and wildlife agencies to advance the stewardship of our nation’s fish and wildlife resources,” said Dave Chanda, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. “We appreciate the strong ties formed by state agencies and their partners to protect these imperiled wildlife species and their habitats, which are critical to the on-the-ground success of these projects.”
CESCF funding is provided through three competitive grant programs: the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, which provides funds to support the development of Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) that protect habitat for listed species; the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program, which provides funds for the acquisition of habitat in support of approved and draft species recovery plans; and the HCP Land Acquisition Grants Program, which provides funds to acquire habitat for listed species to complement approved HCPs.
The grants are funded in part by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was established by Congress in 1965. The fund promotes access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations by providing funding to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. For the past 51 years, the fund has supported more than 40,000 conservation and outdoor recreation projects nationwide. President Obama proposed full funding at $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, and is pursuing full, permanent and mandatory funding for the fund’s programs beginning in 2018.
Examples of Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 CESCF funded projects include:
The states of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin will receive $1 million under the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program to develop a multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that will help researchers better understand the distribution and summer habitat use of local cave-dwelling bats, including the federally-listed Indiana and northern long-eared bats. The project will also help support sustainable forest management practices in the region, which in turn will allow public and private landowners to meet economic, ecological and social goals.
The state of Montana will receive $2 million under the HCP Land Acquisition Grants Program to support the Whitefish Lake Watershed Project in Flathead County, Montana. A conservation easement on this Plum Creek property will help ensure vital habitat linkages for bull trout, grizzly bear and other federally-listed species.
The state of California will receive $1 million under the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program to protect 240 acres of pebble plain habitat. This land acquisition will promote the recovery of several endemic plant species, including the federally-listed Bear Valley sandwort, ash-gray Indian paintbrush and southern mountain buckwheat.
The ESA provides a critical safety net for North 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. For a complete list of FY 2016 CESCF funded projects visit: https://www.fws.gov/endangered/grants/index.html. To learn more about the Service’s Ecological Services Program visit www.fws.gov/endangered.