According to a Georgia Department of Natural Resources press relaese , there are funding cuts included in the proposed House Budget Continuing Resolution HR1, being debated this week in the U.S. House of Representatives. These cuts would have a significant negative impact on wildlife management in Georgia.
The proposed federal bill would eliminate funding for State Wildlife Grants and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) for the current fiscal year and would greatly reduce the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund.
Here is why this issue is important:
- The State Wildlife Grants program is the nation’s core program that helps states take proactive and collaborative conservation measures to preclude future endangered species listings by implementing voluntary actions to stabilize declining wildlife populations. This program is the main source of funding for implementing State Wildlife Action Plans. Georgia’s Wildlife Action Plan, developed by the Wildlife Resources Division with help from other conservation organizations, scientists, sportsmen’s groups, and land managers, identifies priority species and habitats and key conservation actions needed to maintain the state’s rich wildlife diversity and provide multiple benefits to the public. (F
- The Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act) provides grants to states to participate in a wide array of voluntary conservation projects for candidate, proposed and listed species. The program provides funding for conservation of imperiled plants and animals and their habitats on non-federal lands.
- NAWCA provides matching funds to organizations and individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetlands conservation projects for the benefit of wetlands-associated migratory birds and other wildlife.
These grant programs were designed to ensure states’ involvement in wildlife management regulated by federal laws and have provided funding critical to conservation of wildlife species in Georgia.
Examples of conservation efforts funded through these grant programs in our state include protecting and monitoring loggerhead sea turtle nests, conducting surveys for swallow-tailed kites and wood storks, restoring globally imperiled longleaf pine forests and other natural habitats on state and private lands, working with private landowners to implement the Safe Harbor program benefiting endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, and acquiring key conservation lands such as Zahnd Natural Area, Silver Lake Wildlife Management Area, and Townsend Wildlife Management Area , which are open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, birdwatching and other outdoor activities.
The House could vote on this budget bill (HR1) as early as today. If you wish to contact your representative in Congress about this measure.
For more information on State Wildlife Grants and State Wildlife Action Plans, see the Teaming with Wildlife website at www.teaming.com. Teaming with Wildlife is a coalition of more than 6,300 public, private and nonprofit organizations supporting sufficient public funding for wildlife conservation and related education and recreation.