Tuesday, April 28, 2009

$950,000 destined for private land habitat management in Driftless Area

MADISON – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank today announced the state has received a $559,602 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant Program to enhance privately owned prairie and savanna habitat throughout the driftless area of Wisconsin in coming months along with $397,486 in state and private matching funds. Funds will be distributed through Wisconsin’s Landowner Incentive Program (LIP).

The federal dollars are part of nearly $9 million in State Wildlife Grant Competitive Program funds awarded to12 state wildlife agencies across the country to help imperiled mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, dragonflies, and their habitats. State matching funds include $180,000 from the Stewardship Program and approximately $190,000 from conservation groups and the University of Wisconsin.

“The grant will help federal, state and nongovernmental organizations work with private landowners for successful species and habitat conservation in the driftless region,” Frank said. “It is great news that we are able to offer landowners financial and technical assistance to protect the future of these species and improve this important habitat.”

Species of greatest conservation need include those that are listed as either endangered or threatened, as well as some not yet listed but showing signs of decline. In many cases, habitat loss is a major factor for their decline. Efforts to prevent species from becoming endangered or threatened are less costly and help avoid regulation.

“The driftless area of Wisconsin is largely under private ownership and contains unique habitat that supports a number of wildlife and plant species of great need,” Frank said. “The driftless area contains some of the best remaining remnants of oak savanna, prairies, forests and stream in the upper Midwest and provides habitat for unique plant and animal species.”

Available only for use on private lands within the target area, the nearly $250,000 in assistance grants are designed for projects benefitting animal species such as grassland birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. Examples of likely projects include prescribed burns to rejuvenate prairie and savanna areas, removal of invasive brush such as honeysuckle and multi-flora rose and conservation easement purchases for areas supporting very rare species like the Hines emerald dragonfly.

Estimated at roughly 24,000 square miles, the driftless area consists of two ecologically important regions, the southwest savanna and western coulee and ridges.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Heidi Nelson - 608-267-0797

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