Arlington, VA U.S. Fish and Wildlife director Dale Hall has announced that four California conservation projects encompassing more than 3,000 acres of coastal wetlands are among 29 projects receiving 2008 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Program grants. The $3.5 million in California grants will be used along with partnership funds to acquire, restore or enhance coastal wetlands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish, wildlife and habitat.
"The number of plant and animal species, including people, that rely on coastal wetlands for their health and well-being is remarkable," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall. "This coastal grant program continues to provide valued funds for a valued resource, and we have the angling and boating industries – and the anglers and boaters themselves – to thank for their financial support."
"The California State Coastal Conservancy is thrilled to be receiving --along with our partners-- this US Fish and Wildlife Service grant," said Sam Schuchat, executive officer of the California State Coastal Conservancy. "We¹re very proud to be a recipient of this honor; this grant will enable us, together with our colleagues, to further our ongoing, ambitious efforts to protect and restore thousands of acres of vital wetlands and wildlife habitat in California."
Other states receiving funds include Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, Maryland, and Massachusetts, along with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. These federal grants, totaling $20.5 million will be matched by nearly $46 million in partner contributions from state and local governments, private landowners and conservation groups.
The 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, drawing from Sport Fish Restoration Act revenue – money generated from an excise tax on fishing equipment and motorboat and small engine fuels.
Including the 2008 grants, the Service has awarded more than $200 million to coastal states and territories since the program began in 1992. When the 2008 projects are complete, 244,000 acres of habitat will have been protected, restored or enhanced.
The California projects funded by the 2008 grant program include:
East Sweet Springs Acquisition Project, California – The California Coastal Conservancy, working with the Morro Coast Audubon Society and the Trust for Public Land, will acquire the eight acre East Sweet Springs property on the southern shore of the Morro Bay National Estuary, on the central coast of California. This project will help conserve habitat for many fish species, several rare and endangered species, and thousands of coastal-dependent migratory birds that rely on the shallow water, eelgrass beds and wetlands of the estuary. Five hundred thousand dollars of grant funds will be leveraged with $1,000,000 from partners.
Eden Landing Salt Ponds Tidal Wetland Restoration – The California Coastal Conservancy will help restore 730 acres within the 5,500-acre Eden Landing Ecological Reserve (in the South San Francisco Bay) to estuarine intertidal emergent coastal wetland. The California Department of Fish and Game – the owners of the property – will also work with the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District on this restoration project, which is part of the overall South San Francisco Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project (restoring 15,100 acres of salt ponds in the Bay). The ponds will benefit State and Federally endangered, threatened, or rare species such as the California clapper rail, salt marsh harvest mouse, California least tern, California brown pelican, and steelhead trout, along with other migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and waterbird species. One million dollars in grant funds will be leveraged with more than $6 million from partners.
Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Project – The California Wildlife Conservation Board will protect, restore and enhance a 35-acre shallow water embayment located within Malibu Lagoon State Beach in Southern California. The project will restore the salt marsh, create channels and nesting islands for least terns and western snowy plovers as well as improve public access. One million dollars in grant funds will be leveraged with nearly $3 million from partners.
Sears Point Wetlands and Watershed Restoration Project – The California Coastal Conservancy in partnership with the Sonoma Land Trust proposes will restore tidal influence to a 970-acre coastal wetland ecosystem in northwestern San Pablo Bay and restore and enhance 1,357 acres of associated habitats. This project will improve habitat for Federally endangered Chinook salmon and promote recovery of the Federally endangered California clapper rail and State threatened California black rail populations. One million dollars in grant funds will be leveraged with more than $14 million from partners.
SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service