Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Director Dan Ashe today announced $16.5 million in grants to support 21 critical coastal wetland projects in 12 states and Puerto Rico under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants Program.
State and local governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute an additional $18.2 million to these projects, which include acquiring, restoring or enhancing coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish and wildlife and their habitats.
“Coastal wetlands not only provide key habitat for fish and wildlife but they also improve water quality, support local economies through jobs and provide flood protection,” Jewell said. “These grants, funded through excise taxes paid by anglers and boaters, give us the opportunity to join with states and territories and other partners to conserve and restore these areas that are so vital to our environment and our quality of life.”
Coastal wetlands comprise less than 10 percent of the nation’s land area yet support a significant number of wildlife species, including 75 percent of migratory birds, nearly 80 percent of fish and shellfish, and about half of all our threatened and endangered species. Wetlands in coastal watersheds in the U.S. are experiencing a net annual loss of about 80,160 acres according to a new study by the Service.
“With the latest data showing dramatic annual loss of coastal wetlands, these grants become even more important,” Ashe said. “These wetlands are invaluable resources we must protect, and, with these grants, states, territories and partners will be able to undertake high priority projects.”
States and territories receiving funds are Alabama, Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The complete list of projects funded by the 2014 grant program can be found here.
The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program is administered by the 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.
The Service awards grants of up to $1 million to states based on a national competition, which allows states to determine and address their highest conservation priorities in coastal areas.
Since 1992, the Service has awarded $336 million in grants under the program.
Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service