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Ravalli Republic Online

http://www.ravallinews.com/articles/2004/01/08/news/news03.txt

Feds offer $7.1 million for private conservation
By BUDDY SMITH Staff Reporter

     

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a $7.1 million pie for private lands conservation, and landowners and their partners can seek a slice of the funding through March 8.

The federal government this week put out the call for proposals for funding for "on-the-ground" conservation efforts that benefit imperiled species.

In its second year, the Private Stewardship Grants Program last May funded 113 grants worth $9.4 million to individuals and groups to take on conservation projects for endangered, threatened and other at-risk species on private lands in 43 states.

In Montana and neighboring states, five projects last year ranged from conserving Yellowstone cutthroat trout to developing an outdoor captive breeding program and long-term habitat for trumpeter swans.

 

A ranch in Hawaii used a grant to help protect endangered species by improving habitat while reducing threats posed by invasive species; groups and individuals in Idaho helped restore Teton River fish habitat on private lands, for instance.

"Most imperiled species do occur on private land, so this is an incentive program for private landowners to conserve the habitat and the species that live there," said Diane Katzenberger, Fish and Wildlife Service regional spokeswoman.

It does so by providing a partnership between citizens and the federal government, she said.

Landowners and their partners may submit funding proposals directly to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The deadline to apply is March 8, and agency spokesman Mitch Snow on Wednesday said the funding could be sought by a variety of individuals or partner organizations for voluntary efforts on private lands.

"It's everything - from Scout Troops to folks like the local chapter of Ducks Unlimited or the Izaak Walton League. There's a huge range of groups," he said.

The cost-share program exemplifies President Bush's cooperative conservation initiatives, Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton said in a release.

Officials said the private stewardship grants encourage and support landowners and their partners to design and carry out species conservation and habitat protection on private lands. Such grant programs also put more money in the hands of local citizens and organizations for conservation.

"I would say it represents an increased initiative to do what folks have recognized for several years as probably the most effective way of getting things done," Snow said.

Individuals and groups engaged in voluntary conservation efforts on private lands that benefit imperiled species, including federally listed endangered or threatened species and other at-risk species, compete for the federal grants.

"It's not entirely federal funding; there has to be some local funding involved," Snow said.

President Bush proposed the private stewardship program in a speech at Lake Tahoe, in June 2000, when he was still Texas governor, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

 

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