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US landowners key to wildlife projects

By John Dean - 30 Aug 2011 15:28:0 GMT
US landowners key to wildlife projects

United States landowners have a key role to play in the protection of endangered American wildlife. That's one of the key messages to come out of the recent award by the US Government of $53m in grants to wildlife projects.

From rare birds to endangered beetles, hope has been offered to dozens of endangered species after the announcement by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Awarding money to 17 states through the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, he said: "Our solid partnerships with states are key to Interior's continued success in preventing the extinction of hundreds of threatened and endangered species, and recovering species, such as the bald eagle, brown pelican, and American alligator. These grant awards will support important state efforts to build and strengthen conservation partnerships, and to conserve and protect vital habitat for threatened and endangered animals and plants."

Many of the schemes depend on co-operation between landowners and conservationists, either in cases where wildlife exists on private sites or where there is a need to buy land, a point made by US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. He said: "Ensuring the survival of imperiled species depends on long-term partnerships and voluntary landowner participation. The vital funding provided by these grants empowers landowners and communities to safeguard habitat for threatened and endangered species and foster conservation stewardship efforts for future generations."

One of the species to benefit in this way is the Karner Blue Butterfly. The State of Wisconsin has received a $360,000 grant to fund the Karner Blue Butterfly Land Acquisition project in Jackson County, which will allow it to protect 240 acres of land within the Bauer-Brockway Barrens State Natural Area and the Jackson County Forest. The scheme will link up habitats which suffer from increasing fragmentation.

Another of the grants goes to the Chesapeake Bay Puritan Tiger Beetle Habitat Conservation project in Maryland, run through the State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office, Eastern Shore Conservancy, Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Council, and five private landowners. They will be able to purchase 456 acres of forestland and eroding cliffs which support the locally threatened Puritan tiger beetle. One of the sites also has the threatened northeastern beach tiger beetle.

A further $978,439 will support plans for the Cumberlands Region, Tennessee, to protect aquatic and forest areas. Several mammals, mussels, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and aquatic invertebrates will benefit.

Among projects benefiting birds is the $391,000 grant to the East Maui Watershed Conservation Easement in Hawaii, which will fund the purchase of more than 3,550 acres in Makawao and Haiku on the Island of Maui which is home to 13 rare or endangered birds, including the "akohekohe or crested honeycreeper and the Maui parrotbill, which are among the rarest birds in the US."

Top Image Credit: Brown Pelican © EpicStockMedia