DOI Provides $19M for Coastal Wetlands Protection Projects

Twenty-four conservation projects will benefit fish and wildlife on more than 5,900 acres of coastal habitats.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced the award of more than $19 million to support 24 conservation projects benefiting fish and wildlife on more than 5,900 acres of coastal habitats in 12 U.S. states through the 2011 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program.

These federal grants will be matched by over $21 million in partner contributions from state and local governments, private landowners and conservation groups.

The grants will be used to acquire, restore or enhance coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish, wildlife and their habitat. States receiving funds are Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Alaska, and California.

The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 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.

A complete list of projects funded by the 2011 grant program can be found online at: www.fws.gov/coastal/CoastalGrants/index.html.

Several examples of projects include:

Sisters of Notre Dame Conservation Easement – The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, partnering with the Essex County Greenbelt Association, the Great Marsh Land Protection Team, and the Town of Ipswich were awarded a $1 million grant to permanently protect approximately 78.05 acres of coastal salt marsh, freshwater marsh and ponds, and associated upland buffer. The barrier beaches of the Great Marsh support large breeding populations of water birds, including federally-threatened Piping plovers. The property also lies within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Atlantic Coast Joint Venture North Shore Waterfowl Focus Area and the Massachusetts Bays Program National Estuary Program.

Brown’s Island Project – The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, along with the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust were awarded a $387,400 grant to acquire a 45-acre parcel on Brown’s Island located near Cape Lookout National Seashore in Cataret County, N.C. Brown’s Island is a 600-acre undeveloped island.

Riverside Ranch Restoration Project - The California Coastal Conservancy was awarded a $1 million grant to restore the natural ecosystem functions of the Salt River Delta in the Eel River estuary. The Salt River watershed has been degraded by a century of diking and gating. This project will restore and enhance a total of 334 acres of estuarine tidal marsh, riparian forest, and other estuarine habitats, and 112 acres of associated uplands for numerous federal and state listed and other wetland-dependent fish and wildlife species.

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