New USFWS grants support wetlands, endangered species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced new grants for both wetlands conservation and endangered species conservation in recent weeks.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved more than $34 million in grants last month, allowing the USFWS and its partners to undertake projects to conserve or restore 177,000 acres of wetland and associated uplands. These areas support waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds across 20 states.

The grants were created through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the only federal grant program dedicated to the conservation of wetland habitats for migratory birds. The Wildlife Society regularly advocates for authorization and funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which is subject to annual appropriations by Congress.

The funds will be matched by $74 million in partner funds and will support projects that will benefit more than 60 species identified by the USFWS earlier this year in its Birds of Conservation Concern report.

The commission also approved $3.1 million in grants from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to help conserve 816 acres across four national wildlife refuges used for public use and hunting programs. These grants allow those refuges to expand public opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education and interpretation. The funding came primarily through the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as Duck Stamps, and import duties on arms and ammunition.

The Federal Duck Stamp Program has provided more than $1.1 billion for habitat conservation in the National Wildlife Refuge System since its inception in 1934. The Wildlife Society has supported the use of the Duck Stamp to fund wetland and waterfowl habitat conservation.

In addition, the USFWS also recently announced $79.2 million in grants to assist in conserving and permanently protecting almost 56,000 acres of habitat for 55 listed and at-risk species across 13 states through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (CESCF). The grants will be matched by over $49.3 million in partner funds.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund subsidizes the CESCF grants, and provides funding to implement state and territorial programs to conserve and recover federally listed and at-risk species on non-federal lands. The endangered species grants announced last week are funded by the Recovery Land Acquisition Grant Program, which provides funds for the acquisition of habitat in support of Service-approved recovery plans.

The USFWS also provides funding for the acquisition of habitat for listed and at-risk species through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grant Program and for planning efforts through the Habitat Conservation Plan Planning Assistance Grant Program. Nearly $8.2 million in grants was awarded earlier this year through that program, supporting habitat conservation planning efforts across 17 states.

The Wildlife Society supports robust funding for endangered species conservation and prevention, both through the annual appropriations process for the USFWS and other agencies, and through new funding mechanisms such as the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Header Image: Port Louisa, in Illinois, is one of the National Wildlife Refuges that will benefit from grants recently announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Credit: Alex Galt/USWFS