DOI to Distribute $61 M for Fish, Wildlife Programs

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced May 20 that more than $61 million will be distributed to the fish and wildlife agencies of the 50 states, commonwealths, the District of Columbia, territories, to help conserve and recover imperiled fish and wildlife through the State Wildlife Grant Program.

The program provides federal funds for the development and implementation of programs for the benefit of fish and wildlife and their habitats, including species that are not hunted or fished. These program funds come from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Funds support both planning and implementation activities.

Planning activities must contribute directly to the development or modification of a State's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan (also known as a Wildlife Action Plan). Implementation activities are activities designed to execute their Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan. Priority for use of these funds is placed on those species with the greatest conservation need, while also considering the relative level of funding available for the conservation of those species.

Colorado's efforts to conserve the Gunnison sage-grouse provide an excellent example of how states are putting the funds to use. A number of projects have completed sage grouse conservation actions outlined in the Colorado Wildlife Action Plan. The effort includes partners such as Colorado Audubon, which has created a citizen volunteer corps to monitor habitat conditions in the Gunnison Basin and to improve habitat on other public and private lands, while Colorado State University will create a habitat guide to help private and public land managers adapt their grazing and land management practices to benefit sage grouse.

Conservation easements now protect thousands of acres of high quality sage grouse habitat. These cooperative actions involving the public, private conservation groups, sportsmen, landowners and federal land managers will help the Gunnison sage-grouse survive on a working landscape.

The program provides grants to state and other eligible jurisdictions through a formula-based distribution calculated using the state's land area and population. Congress initiated this grant program in FY 2002 and funded it from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.