U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service News Release
Hawaiian agencies will receive nearly $750,000 in three new grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to help conserve and recover wildlife species.
Overall, the Service awarded $5.1 million in grants to 11 state fish and wildlife agencies to help conserve and recover Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) through the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) Competitive Program. Priority is given to large-scale cooperative conservation projects that demonstrate measurable performance results and benefits to imperiled species. This federal funding will be matched by more than $3.1 million in non-Federal funds provided by states and their partners for projects helping SGCN and their habitats.
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will implement projects which will benefit imperiled species like the ‘Io or Hawaiian Hawk and the ‘Alala, aka Hawaiian Crow, which has been federally listed as an endangered species since 1967. The Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife and partners will also implement conservation efforts targeting 41 species of snail by undertaking actions that include population surveys, monitoring, and predator control.
“Projects funded by these State Wildlife Grants are essential for the development and implementation of programs to support wildlife and their habitats,” said Regional Director Robyn Thorson. “We value the conservation initiatives from our state partners and work in tandem to protect and restore these important species.”
One of three restoration projects on the islands, Hawaii State DLNR will initiate a program to restore a self-sustaining wild population of ‘Alala (Corvus hawaiiensis) to the Big Island, with the establishment of field aviaries and habitat management to keep the sites free of ungulates, predators, and habitat-altering weeds. This project was awarded $248,524 to establish a viable wild population of the species through the release of captive-bred birds. A key partner in this project is the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.
The DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife was awarded $250,000 to initiate ‘Landscape-Scale Conservation Management of Ka’u Forest Reserve’ on the Big Island. Implementation of critical conservation actions will take place within a 2,000-acre management unit of the Ka’u Forest Reserve. The work will address key threats to 18 species identified in the State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plans that are of greatest concern, including 12 federally listed endangered species such as the ‘Io or Hawaiian Hawk (Buteo solitarius). This broad partnership effort includes many private, state, and federal partners working together to protect imperiled species within a Priority Ecosystem Conservation Area – one of the most diverse and intact forests on the Big Island. Conservation actions include fencing and ungulate control, invasive plant control, and habitat restoration.
To prevent the extinction of rare Hawaiian land snails in the Ko’olau Mountains of Oahu, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources also received $249,952 to partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a U.S. Army Garrison, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa to implement conservation efforts to release captive-bred snails into natural habitat that is protected by predator exclusion fencing. The project will also include monitoring, population surveys, and predator control.
“We appreciate the strong ties formed by state agencies and their partners to protect these imperiled wildlife species and their habitats,” said Hannibal Bolton, the Service’s Assistant Director for Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration. “These partnerships are critical to the on-the-ground success of these projects.”
The SWG Competitive Program, part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, awards grants to projects that implement strategies and actions to conserve species of greatest conservation need contained in approved State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plans (also known as State Wildlife Action Plans). Funding for the grants comes from Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations for the SWG Competitive Program.
All 50 states and six territorial wildlife agencies have approved State Wildlife Action Plans that collectively provide a nationwide blueprint for actions to conserve SGCN. The plans were created through a collaborative effort among state and federal agencies, biologists, conservationists, landowners, sportsmen and -women and the general public.
“The projects funded by these grants target some of the most imperiled species and habitats in the United States,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “They’re also among the most effective, because they are tied to well thought-out conservation plans that identify the highest priorities in each state – as well as the areas where we can make the biggest difference for imperiled species.”
For more information on each of the grant projects, visit http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/SWG/SWG2013FundedProjects.pdf