Sep 092014
 

The Fish and Wildlife Service is giving $35 million in grants to states to conserve endangered species habitat.

Here's the first paragraph of the news release that went out today:

WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced nearly $35 million in grants to 20 states to enable collaborative efforts to conserve many of America’s imperiled species, ranging from the red-cockaded woodpecker in the Southeast to a variety of bat species in the Midwest to a colorful flower in the Rocky Mountains.

Here's the list of projects and the amount of money awarded:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
FY 2014 Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund
Project Descriptions Arranged by State

Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Land Acquisition Grants by State:

California

Santa Clara Valley HCP/NCCP (Santa Clara County) – $2,000,000

This grant will support the acquisition of 1,881 acres in Santa Clara County that will protect key serpentine grassland habitat and associated species, such as the federally listed Bay checkerspot butterfly, as well as other listed species, including the California tiger salamander and California red-legged frog. The property is not only a key acquisition for the HCP/NCCP, but it also fits into a local assemblage of publicly and privately protected lands that complement a suite of other organizations’ conservation goals for the Mount Hamilton region, including The Nature Conservancy, Peninsula Open Space Trust, Silicon Valley Land Conservancy and others. Purchase of this property will secure a vital linkage between the Santa Cruz Mountains and Mount Hamilton Range through the Coyote Valley, and will ameliorate the effects of climate change on covered species by providing a range of environmental gradients.

Shell Oil Company/Metropolitan Water District HCP (Los Angeles County) – $2,000,000

This grant will support the acquisition of approximately 56 acres of land in Los Angeles County. Los Angeles and Orange Counties are largely urbanized, and all remaining open space is highly vulnerable to urban development. The remaining natural open space in the area contains a surprising diversity and abundance of wildlife and plant species. These factors combine to create an urgent need to conserve remaining available natural open space to support populations of native species and habitats, as well as to ensure recovery of listed species. This grant will help conserve habitat in eastern Chino/Puente Hills for an important population of federally threatened coastal California gnatcatcher, and will help protect important habitat for the cactus wren, listed by the State of California as Species of Concern.

Western Riverside Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan* (Riverside County) – $1,500,000

This grant will support the acquisition of approximately 1,025 acres of land in Riverside County. This acquisition will benefit numerous sensitive species including federally listed species such as the California gnatcatcher, Arroyo southwestern toad and Quino checkerspot butterfly. The acquisition will support the assembly of the 500,000-acre preserve that is part of the Western Riverside MSHCP by protecting large blocks of coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and grassland habitats.

City of Carlsbad Habitat Management Plan (HMP) Northwest San Diego County Multiple Habitat Conservation Plan (San Diego County) – $2,000,000

This project will purchase up to 133 acres of important biological core habitat areas for the coastal California gnatcatcher. The purchases will also benefit numerous listed and unlisted species covered by the Carlsbad HMP, including the least Bell’s vireo, California least tern, western snowy plover and numerous plants. The proposed acquisitions support a larger landscape-level conservation initiative and will greatly enhance the conservation goals of the Carlsbad HMP by securing key regional wildlife linkages and preserving core habitat in the three target areas. The proposed acquisition parcels support a  mosaic of high quality, native riparian and upland habitats.

East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP) (Contra Costa County) – $2,000,000

These funds will purchase approximately 700 acres of important habitat land for many of the species covered in the HCP/NCCP, including federally listed species such as the San Joaquin kit fox, California red-legged frog, and vernal pool tadpole shrimp. The acquisition of these properties adds to the reserve system and provides protection for lands that have rich on-site resources and support a diverse mosaic of habitat types.

Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP)* (Riverside County) – $893,000

The grant will result in the acquisition of up to 8,686 acres that will greatly enhance the existing Coachella Valley MSHCP by securing key regional wildlife habitat linkages and sand transport areas, and preserving core habitat areas. The land acquisition will benefit many sensitive species, including federally listed species such as the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, desert tortoise and peninsular bighorn sheep. The proposed acquisition will complement and greatly enhance the ecological value of the many other acquisitions that have previously occurred in these areas in the last few years.

Montana

Haskill Basin Watershed Project (Whitefish & Flathead Counties) – $2,000,000

A conservation easement on the Haskill Basin property will complement conservation efforts for the landscape-scale Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation HCP.  It will prevent impacts to grizzly bear and Canada lynx habitat from imminent development and ensure vital linkages for these species. This acquisition will address some of the remaining unprotected habitat in a large partnership effort to conserve much of the Crown of the Continent, including working lands, in northwestern Montana.

North Carolina

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Protection and Corridors (Richmond and Scotland Counties) – $1,085,000

This grant will enable the acquisition of up to 1,761 acres of longleaf pine habitat in the Sandhills region of North Carolina used by the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Acquisition, restoration and protection of this property will promote connectivity among woodpecker groups to expand managed areas in and around the Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall woodpecker populations, and throughout the North Carolina Sandhills.

Washington

Heart of the Cascades 2014 (Kittitas County) – $2,000,000

The objective of this project is to protect strategic habitat parcels in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. This habitat plays a major role in the connectivity and recovery of the federally listed northern spotted owl, gray wolf and bull trout in Washington, and complements the Plum Creek Central Cascades HCP. This private forest landscape would otherwise be vulnerable to fragmentation and loss  of habitat due to dispersed real estate development and industrial logging. In addition to species listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the project will benefit steelhead and Chinook salmon, both listed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, as well as the northern goshawk and numerous other birds and mammals. Addressing climate change, landscape connectivity, and water quality and quantity are other important objectives of this project. This project will build on numerous past and on-going investments in conservation in the I-90 corridor by protecting up to an additional 4,000 acres of important habitat lands.

Mountain View 4-0 Ranch 2014 (Asotin County) – $2,000,000

This phase of the ongoing acquisition project in Asotin County encompasses 2,100 acres, including 1.3 miles of the Lower Grande Ronde River and 2.3 miles of its tributaries. Federally threatened bull trout, spring and fall Chinook, and steelhead use the Grande Ronde River as well as some of these tributaries. In addition, interior redband trout, Pacific lamprey and many other aquatic species are present in these tributaries. This project is part of a large, multi-phased acquisition that, once completed, will protect 13,072 acres and 15 miles of stream. To date, approximately 6,433 acres have been purchased. The project is bordered on the north by national forest and on the south and east by Bureau of Land Management property. This rare acquisition of a large, ecologically intact and diverse landscape will also protect many upland habitats including cliff and talus habitats, meadows, springs, curl-leaf mahogany shrubland, interior grassland, and ponderosa pine.

Wisconsin

Karner Blue Butterfly HCP Land Acquisition Project (Adams County) – $460,000

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will purchase 1,533 acres of land in the Glacial Lake Wisconsin Recovery Unit for the Karner blue butterfly. This acquisition will permanently protect the area with a conservation easement, ensuring protection from development and an ability to manage for the butterfly and other species within the barrens ecosystem in perpetuity. A previous grant allowed the state to protect 1,659 acres of the 3,192-acre conservation easement project. This year’s grant will be used to purchase the remaining 1,533 acres of the project.

HCP Planning Assistance Grants by State:

California

Bakersfield Regional HCP (Kern County) – $717,271

The HCP for Metropolitan Bakersfield seeks to balance conservation of species and habitats with impacts from urban development. The plan provides a unique opportunity to address take avoidance and minimization efforts for threatened and endangered species that have become accustomed to the urban environment. A key element of the new plan would be to establish standardized avoidance and take minimization measures for the San Joaquin kit fox, a federally listed endangered species that utilizes the urban environment within the City of Bakersfield.

City of Antioch HCP/NCCP (Contra Costa County) – $688,131

The proposed HCP/NCCP plan area will encompass the city’s jurisdiction area and include its surrounding areas. Anticipated growth in Antioch could impact key habitats and linkages needed to protect a variety of state- and federally-listed threatened, endangered and special-status species, including the Antioch Dunes evening primrose, Lange’s metalmark butterfly, Contra Costa wallflower, San Joaquin kit fox, California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander. The proposed Antioch HCP/NCCP plan area supports a variety of habitats and natural communities, including annual grassland, alkali grassland, chaparral, oak woodland, oak savanna, riparian woodland and scrub, wetlands, ponds, streams and sensitive riverine sand dunes.

Feather River HCP (Sutter, Placer, and Butte County) – $735,379

To restore habitats while also providing for needed flood control, the State of California Department of Water Resources is developing an HCP to support implementation of the 2017 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan and Central Valley Flood System Conservation Strategy within the plan area. This HCP will contribute to species recovery through conserving lands and making improvements to riverine and floodplain ecosystems and associated habitats (aquatic, riparian and marsh) and species including: Valley elderberry longhorn beetles, greater sandhill cranes, giant gartersnake and others. The plan area includes approximately 59% of the lower Feather River sub-basin, a significant tributary to the Sacramento River. The HCP will provide a science-based conservation approach to conserving ecosystem functions while also satisfying the federal and State Endangered Species Act requirements.

Kern County Valley Floor HCP (Kern County) – $354,771

This plan is being designed to address the protection of 25 federal and state threatened, endangered and candidate species including, but not limited to, the San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, Buena Vista Lake shrew, giant kangaroo rat, Bakersfield cactus and many other species. Significant ecologically important, undisturbed natural areas containing saltbush scrub and valley sink scrub, as well as larger expanses of non-native grasslands, afford important habitat to species covered under the plan. The conservation strategy is designed to conserve these important habitat areas, which are largely in private ownership, through a landscape-level, incentive-based approach, that will compliment several individual conservation planning efforts that are currently underway or proposed.

Placer County Conservation Plan (Placer County) – $337,500

This funding will support the Placer County Conservation Plan in northern California. Placer County is currently developing a comprehensive, multi-species HCP and Natural Community Conservation Plan. The county has partnered with other local, state and federal agencies to develop the plan, the primary objective of which is to balance development with the conservation of the County's natural resources, and provide for the protection of sensitive species and their respective habitats. Numerous listed and sensitive species will benefit from this plan including the vernal pool fairy shrimp, giant garter snake and American peregrine falcon.

South Sacramento HCP (Sacramento County) – $195,000

The South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan provides a regional approach to balancing development with conservation and protection of habitat, species, open space and agricultural lands. Several local jurisdictions are involved in efforts to complete the HCP and guide new urban growth into suitable areas, thereby protecting the most vulnerable natural resources and species populations within Sacramento County. The HCP will protect a broad diversity of species and habitats in a regionally coordinated manner that provides the greatest opportunity for long-term viability of native species populations, conserves and enhances ecosystem functions, and will establish a meaningful system of preserves that are located in areas of the highest quality habitat. Species protected will include California tiger salamander, vernal pool tadpole shrimp, slender orcutt grass and others. The HCP will provide large, linked preserves that will connect the existing patchwork of small and noncontiguous preserves.

Upper Santa Ana HCP (San Bernardino and Riverside Counties) – $675,345

The Upper Santa Ana River HCP seeks to balance conservation of primarily aquatic species with the effects from water infrastructure and maintenance activities. The Upper Santa Ana River HCP will include conservation and restoration of habitat at different locations throughout the Santa Ana River watershed in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Conservation efforts associated with the HCP will focus on restoring aquatic, riparian and adjacent upland habitat and protecting the proposed 16 or more covered species including Santa Ana Sucker, coastal California gnatcatcher, Delhi Sands flower-loving fly and others.

Yuba & Sutter Counties HCP/NCCP (Yuba and Sutter Counties) – $725,000

This plan seeks to balance conservation with urban development. Although much of the plan area remains undeveloped or in agricultural uses that benefit natural communities and the species they support, most of the land is in private ownership without protection. Many undeveloped areas within the plan area are anticipated to accommodate population growth over the next few decades. The plan is a unique opportunity for the plan participants to develop a comprehensive, multi-species conservation plan addressing both listed and non-listed but sensitive species including vernal pool fairy shrimp, Northwestern pond turtle, tricolored blackbird, and others. The plan will provide a regional framework for conservation including natural land and agricultural use preservation.

Florida

Statewide Habitat Conservation Plan for Florida Beaches (35 Coastal Counties Statewide) – $750,000

This grant will assist stakeholders in assimilating acquired data into a detailed draft of the HCP. Activities in the coastal area and their threats to listed species will be analyzed. The goal of the HCP is to allow ongoing beach structure protection measures while limiting and mitigating the adverse effects to federally listed nesting loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, green and hawksbill sea turtles, five beach mouse subspecies, and shorebirds, including wintering piping plovers. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is leading this effort in conjunction with builders groups, municipalities and others.

Massachusetts

Development of a Habitat Conservation Plan for the Piping Plover in Massachusetts  $188,694

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is leading an effort to develop an umbrella habitat conservation plan for federally listed piping plovers that is intended to incentivize landowners, beach managers and the public for sound management of piping plover nesting beaches (totaling over 43,000 acres) as well as foster and maintain community support for recovery efforts. The HCP will incorporate minimization and mitigation measures that will improve the conservation status of piping plovers in Massachusetts and in the New England Recovery Unit. A stakeholder group comprised of six towns and four private conservation organizations is engaged in the development process. The towns together protect, manage and monitor nearly 75 percent of the piping plovers in Massachusetts. Managing conflicts between recreational beach use and piping plovers is an annual issue in Massachusetts, which receives a lot of public attention.

Multi-State

Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan for Cave-Dwelling Bats (State-wide Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin) – $750,000

The Departments of Natural Resources in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin propose to develop an HCP for several species of cave-dwelling bats. The plan would focus on forest management on state, county and private lands. The species include the endangered Indiana bat, the northern long-eared bat (proposed as endangered), the little brown bat and the tri-colored bat. The project will result in a better understanding of species distribution and summer habitat use by cave-dwelling bats, species currently severely threatened by white-nose syndrome. Once the plan is complete, the states will work with landowners and conservation groups to encourage the conservation of cave-dwelling bats.

Oregon

Deschutes Basin Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan (Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, Klamath, Sherman, and Wasco Counties) – $675,000

This project will continue the development of an HCP for the Deschutes Basin Board of Control, member irrigation districts, and the City of Prineville that will benefit aquatic-dependent species in the upper Deschutes Basin, while meeting current and future irrigation and municipal water needs in a balanced, economically viable, and sustainable manner. Seven species will be covered under the HCP including the federally listed bull trout, as well as the middle Columbia River steelhead and the Oregon spotted frog, the latter is a candidate species. The districts and city have been working cooperatively with a multi-stakeholder group, including the Bureau of Reclamation to develop the HCP since 2009. When completed, the HCP will provide ecosystem benefits to over 10,700 square miles of the upper Deschutes River basin including 340 miles of the Deschutes River and its tributaries and serve as a model for similar projects throughout the western United States.

Pennsylvania

Habitat Conservation Plan for Indiana Bat and Northern Long-eared Bats Associated with Forest Management Activities on Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources State Lands (State-wide)  – $675,000

The Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are developing an HCP that addresses impacts to Indiana and northern long-eared bats that may result from forest management activities on 3.8 million acres of state lands. The HCP describes activities associated with forest management that may cause incidental take of Indiana and northern long-eared bats, and analyzes the likely result from such takings, as well as outlines the conservation strategy avoidance, minimization and mitigation to address direct and indirect impacts to both species. The activities covered in the HCP are forestry (regeneration, intermediate/improvement, and salvage cuts), operations (fencing and firewood collection), roads and trails (road and trail construction, maintenance and use) prescribed fire (fire breaks and burning), and other activities associated with the HCP implementation. This forest management HCP will become a model for other states on how forest management should be conducted to be compatible with protecting ESA listed bat species.

Recovery Land Acquisition Grants by State:

California

Metcalf Meadow (San Bernardino County) – $1,197,000

The proposed project would acquire and permanently conserve land within Metcalf Meadow, one of the few remaining intact meadows on the southern shore of Big Bear Lake. The proposed parcels provide important habitat for the recovery of meadow and pebble plain plant species including the federally listed pedate checker-mallow, California taraxacum, San Bernardino bluegrass, and Bear Valley sandwort. The large, contiguous parcels are connected hydrologically with parts of Metcalf Meadow on nearby San Bernardino National Forest and are important to maintain given the sensitivity of meadow habitat to changes in hydrology that could occur if these lands were otherwise developed. Partial funding was granted in 2013 to facilitate acquisition of the adjacent parcel. Through this acquisition, 17.1 acres will be conserved in perpetuity.
 
Cameron Meadows Phase II (El Dorado County) – $332,475.  

This acquisition will permanently protect highly-developable habitat occupied by the federally listed Pine Hill ceanothus, Stebbins’ morning glory, El Dorado bedstraw and Layne’s butterweed and an assemblage of rare plants known from gabbro soil habitat. Conversion of gabbro soil habitat to urban and industrial uses has eliminated occurrences of these plant species. To prevent further habitat fragmentation, acquisition of land occupied by these rare plants is the most effective means of securing long-term protection. Acquisition of the property will also protect a corridor between two conserved properties of the Pine Hills Ecological Preserve.

San Diego Bay (San Diego County) – $272,757

This project will result in the acquisition and permanent protection of developable land located within the City of San Diego that abuts the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. All of the parcels support habitat and provide for habitat restoration opportunities that would benefit listed and sensitive species including the state and federally listed endangered California least tern, light-footed clapper rail, salt marsh bird’s-beak, and the threatened western snowy plover. The parcels also provide habitat for the delisted California brown pelican, as well as multiple other species that are the focus of state and federal conservation efforts. Additionally, acquisition and restoration of these properties will provide a buffer between urban development and habitat important for the conservation of the species identified above.

Colorado

Pagosa Skyrocket Acquisition- Pagosa Springs* (Pagosa Springs and Archuleta Counties) – $494,137

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will acquire approximately 83 acres from Archuleta County to protect the endangered Pagosa skyrocket from planned development. This acquisition is key to the survival and recovery of this locally endemic plant because it will protect 90 percent of the largest and most important population of the species as well as designated critical habitat.

Florida

Conservation Easement for Florida Panther Dispersal Zone Project (Hendry County) – $1,500,000

This grant will enable the acquisition of a conservation easement on 1,520 acres to protect Florida panther habitat and expand the panther corridor established with the American Prime acquisition. This conservation easement will also serve to protect listed bird species, such as the Florida scrub jay and caracara, by protecting this open important nesting, roosting and foraging habitat.

Georgia  

Acquisition of the Ironstob Tract within the Raccoon Creek Basin, a Tributary to the Etowah River* (Paulding County) – $116,578

This grant will enable the acquisition of 320 acres along tributaries to Raccoon Creek in the Etowah Basin to benefit two federally listed fish, the endangered Etowah darter and the threatened Cherokee darter. Raccoon Creek has been identified as critical for the long-term survival of these fish, and acquisition of this tract will help meet recovery objectives for these species. Permanent protection of this tract will also provide important connectivity to other protected areas and benefit a number of other rare aquatic and terrestrial species in the watershed.

Hawai’i

Pupukea Mauka Watershed and Habitat Protection Project, O’ahu, Hawai’i (Honolulu County) – $1,183,750

The 3,716-acre Pupukea Mauka Watershed and Habitat Protection Project provides a unique opportunity to protect in perpetuity an entire watershed that contains the headwaters of a stream which flows undiverted into a protected marine life conservation district, unusual on Hawaii’s most populous island. The land acquisition will facilitate public and management access from the ocean (makai) to the mountains (mauka) in an area where access to mauka regions is limited but the need to conduct habitat management is critical. The parcel contains occupied habitat vital to the conservation of three critically endangered O.ahu tree snails, the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat, and more than 20 other threatened or endangered plants and animals. This parcel contains Priority I watershed habitat as identified in the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife’s Watershed Initiative plan, and is within the Service’s Pacific Islands Ecoregion’s Priority Ecosystem Conservation Areas.

Idaho

Spalding’s Catchfly Conservation* (Latah County) – $232,425

This project will protect four properties that will provide a critical link among existing conservation easements and connect some of the last Palouse Prairie or Grassland remnants. Palouse Grasslands are a critically-imperiled ecosystem with less than one percent of their former range remaining and these properties contain some of the largest and best remaining examples of this habitat. The protection of these properties will contribute to the recovery of Spalding’s catchfly, a federally listed species, along with eight species of greatest conservation need, as designated by the State of Idaho, five rare endemic plants, and a critically endangered ecosystem. Because most of the habitat for Spalding’s catchfly is on private land, ensuring long-term recovery will require securing permanent protection of key conservation areas, as defined in the species’ recovery plan. The four project properties are within the only key conservation area in Idaho’s Palouse Grasslands and constitute nearly 75% of this area.

Iowa

Indiana Bat Recovery Land Acquisition Project (Davis County) – $252,960

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will use this funding to acquire 223 acres of existing and restorable maternity habitat for the endangered Indiana bat. The expected benefits include permanent protection, expansion, and management of essential summer habitat for the Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat, and establishment a forested commuting corridor that connects 600 acres of Stephens State Forest with 500 acres of forest on the Soap Creek Wildlife Management Area.

Maryland

Acquisition of a Bog Turtle Site of Global Significance in Maryland* (Harford County) – $153,231

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will purchase a 20-acre property in Harford County, home to the largest known population of bog turtles in the state. The location is one of the most significant in the species’ global range and securing its long-term protection will ensure continued connectivity to other bog turtle wetland sites in the area.

Michigan

Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly and Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Recovery Land Acquisition Project (Branch and Kalamazoo Counties) – $180,000

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy will purchase three parcels of land to protect and assist in the recovery of the endangered Mitchell’s satyr butterfly and the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, a candidate for ESA listing. Land acquisition will occur within the Coldwater Fen Complex in Branch County and the Spring Brook Fen Complex in Kalamazoo County. The Coldwater Fen Complex is home to the second largest population of Mitchell’s satyr butterflies and contains two of the three properties proposed for acquisition. The conservancy will purchase land within the Spring Brook Fen Complex, which historically supported Mitchell’s satyr butterflies and currently supports eastern massasauga rattlesnakes.

Oregon

Beaver Creek Forest Acquisition Project (Lincoln County) – $980,000

The Beaver Creek Forest Reserve Acquisition Project will protect 160 acres of nesting habitat for the federally threatened marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl as well as the red tree vole, a candidate species. The parcel is located within one mile of the Pacific Ocean and contains pristine late seral coastal forest. The Beaver Creek Forest Reserve is part of a contiguous stand known to be occupied by marbled murrelets and is adjacent to designated reserve habitat for the species. The acquisition will become part of the adjacent Beaver Creek State Natural Area at Brian Booth State Park, joining an existing 1,414 acres of protected lands managed by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, The Wetlands Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management.

Tennessee

Scott’s Gulf: Protecting key habitat for endangered mammals, fish, mussels, and plants (Davidson County, Tennessee) – $800,000

This grant will enable the acquisition of 2,435 acres of important riparian and upland habitat adjacent to the Caney Fork River to directly benefit two federally listed endangered aquatic species, the bluemask darter and Cumberland pigtoe (mussel). This acquisition will also serve to protect endangered bats, such as Indiana and gray bats, by protecting important roosting and foraging habitat. This acquisition will help further by protecting natural springs and additional caves in the area to conserve habitat quality for these listed species.

Texas  

Land Acquisition of Fries Ranch, Bandera County, Texas* (Bandera County) – $1,246,937  

This grant will support land acquisition to connect The Nature Conservancy’s Love Creek Preserve and the Bandera Corridor Conservation Bank, which provide habitat for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireo and Tobusch fishhook cactus. Acquisition of the 338-acre Fries Ranch as an addition to the Love Creek Preserve will add high quality habitat for both of these endangered songbirds and protect a population of Tobusch fishhook cactus. It will also protect approximately two miles of Clark Creek and several springs, which support salamanders and potentially the Love Creek roundnose minnow.

Virginia

Purchase of Lee County Cave Isopod Habitat, Mason Cave – Thompson Cave System and the Cedars Lirceus Autogenic Zone (Lee County) – $479,250

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, will use this grant funding to acquire three properties totaling approximately 300 acres in the globally important Powell River/Cedars area of Lee County. The lands include biologically significant caves, karst features and subterranean stream flows central to the recovery of the federally listed Lee County cave isopod. This acquisition, combined with proper land management of the acquired parcels, will assist Service in recovery efforts for the species. Once this critical habitat is acquired, the properties will be added to the existing Cedars State Natural Area.

Wisconsin

Dwarf Lake Iris Recovery Land Acquisition Project (Brown County) – $40,500.  

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will use these grant funds to purchase an 11.2-acre parcel of land within the Red Banks Alvar State Natural Area that harbors a significant population of the threatened dwarf lake iris and its associated habitat. The parcel is in an area undergoing rapid residential development and is threatened by accelerated ecological succession to conditions unfavorable to the iris.

Sep 092014
 

In what the National Audubon Society calls "the broadest and most detailed study of its kind," the group is predicting that 314 bird species will lose more than half of their current "climatic range" by 2080. (The link is to "an overview of three papers that make up the report," Audubon spokesman Nicolas Gonzalez said. "Those papers are currently in the late stages of peer review so we are not sharing the full report at the moment.")

[Go here for the society's web page on the report.]

Of those species, the report classifies 126 as "climate-endangered," Audubon says. "These birds are projected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2050. The other 188 species are classified as climate-threatened and expected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2080 if global warming continues at its current pace."

Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold called the findings "heartbreaking."

"Nearly half of the bird species in the United States will be seriously threatened by 2080, and any of those could disappear forever," Yarnold said. "As global temperatures rise, as weather patterns shift, as vital bird habitats dwindle and disappear, familiar and beloved species will leave for more suitable locales or die out completely."

Gary Langham, Audubon’s chief scientist, put it another way. “Half of the birds of North America are at risk of extinction,” he said.

But Yarnold called on citizens to act in any way they felt most comfortable — locally, regionally or nationally — and said that the model used by Audubon scientists "has identified so-called 'strongholds' — geographic areas that will offer shelter against the decades-long wave of climate change that is already washing over us. Those strongholds will be the key to many birds’ continued success in North America."

Coverage/opinion

N.Y. Times

Op-ed by Yarnold and Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham, in which they write, "Conservation planning must take into account both the projected loss and potential shift in geographic ranges of bird species for the next 10 to 80 years. Our report shows, for example, that three-fourths of the most important habitats for climate-threatened species are not protected or even being considered for protection. We can buy birds time by protecting those places that the report describes as “strongholds,” areas identified as the most climatically stable for birds. They are the bridges to the future."

National Geographic