Landowners awarded $1.1M in grants

Hawai`i landowners will receive over $1.1 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for conservation projects helping endangered, threatened and at-risk species, from forests on Lana`i to bats on the Big Island. According to officials with the Private Stewardship Program, Hawai`i will receive the most grant money out of 43 participating states.

“Receiving the most funding of any state is wonderful,” said Paul Henson, field supervisor for the FWS’s Pacific Islands fish and wildlife office, in a release. “Unfortunately, we also have more threatened and endangered species than any other state.”

Grants awarded in Hawai`i include $245,000 to Castle & Cooke to protect and restore native forests on Lana’i, $100,000 to the Hawaiian Silversword Foundation to protect and restore former Keauhou Ranch lands (which include the habitat of the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat), and $107,080 to the Maui Coastal Land Trust to restore Waihe`e coastal dunes and wetlands (which include the habitat of the endangered Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Duck and the Hawaiian Gallinule).

Hawai`i congressman Neil Abercrombie praised the grant program.

“As stewards of the earth we have a responsibility to preserve and nurture the other species that share our planet,” Abercrombie said. “This is especially true of our island state, where geographic isolation and other factors have blessed us with so many plants and animals found nowhere else.”

Henson said the FWS was pleased with the response from private landowners and conservation organizations in Hawai`i.

“Programs such as this will hopefully help us to not only recover listed species, but also to prevent the need to add some candidate species to the Endangered Species Act list,” Henson added.

Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton announced the Pacific region grants as part of a larger package that awards a total of $9.4 million in grants to 113 landowners across the country.

“Conservation, and especially the conservation of imperiled species, must be a partnership between the American people and their government,” Secretary Norton said in a release. “By making these grants, we are empowering citizens to restore habitat on their land and take other steps to protect and recover endangered, threatened, and at-risk species.”

The Private Stewardship Grants Program provides federal grants on a competitive basis to individuals and groups engaged in voluntary conservation efforts on private lands that benefits federally listed endangered or threatened species, candidate species or other at-risk species.

Private landowners and groups working with them submit proposals directly to the FWS for funding from this program to support these efforts, and each grant must be matched by at least 10 percent of the total project cost either in nonfederal dollars or in-kind contributions.

“Judging from the number of truly innovative grant proposals we reviewed, landowners across the U.S. are eager to work with us to conserve at-risk species,” FWS Director Steve Williams said in a release. “We anticipate this public/private partnership will result in significant conservation achievements for wildlife and wildlife habitat.”

President Bush proposed the creation of the Private Stewardship Grand program in June 2000. He will request $10 million in funding for the program in 2004.

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