Grants to protect coastal wetlands in 11 states, PR

Department of the Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced that twenty-nine conservation projects encompassing nearly 10,000 acres of coastal wetlands will be funded with $20.5 million from 2008 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants. The grants will be used to acquire, restore or enhance coastal wetlands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish, wildlife and habitat. These federal grants will be matched by nearly $46 million in partner contributions...

ARLINGTON, VA, Jan. 4, 2008 -- Department of the Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced today that twenty-nine conservation projects encompassing nearly 10,000 acres of coastal wetlands will be funded with $20.5 million from 2008 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants.

The grants will be used to acquire, restore or enhance coastal wetlands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish, wildlife and habitat. States receiving funds include California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, Maryland, and Massachusetts, along with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. These federal grants will be matched by nearly $46 million in partner contributions from state and local governments, private landowners and conservation groups.

"By tapping into the power of partnership through these grants, we are joining with states, local governments, conservation organizations and other partners across the country to conserve and restore our vitally important coastal wetlands," Kempthorne said. "The projects offer enormous benefits. Coastal wetlands filter pollution, reduce storm surge from hurricanes, protect coastlines from erosion, provide habitat for many species of fish and wildlife, and offer recreational opportunities for millions of Americans."

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.

"The number of plant and animal species that rely on coastal wetlands for their health and well-being is remarkable, and I include people among that group," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. 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."

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.

For more information, see the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program home page.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 548 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations.

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