The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide more than $3.3 million to support 68 fish habitat projects in 36 states across the nation under the National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP). An additional $9.9 million in partner contributions, over $13.2 million in total, will go toward restoring and enhancing stream, lake and coastal habitat, as well as to improving recreational fishing and helping endangered species.
The funding is provided for priority projects identified through fifteen Fish Habitat Partnerships established under the NFHAP. The partnerships formed help direct funding and other resources to habitat improvement projects offering the highest long-term conservation returns.
Aquatic ecosystems are especially vulnerable to changes in climate. Healthy habitats help fish and other aquatic life withstand flows and temperatures that are altered due to climate change. Thirty of the projects, supported by $2 million of the Service funds, will improve stream flow, remove barriers or acquire scientific information needed for long-term protection against the effects of climate change.
“The Service is pleased to work side-by-side with our partners to improve habitat for fish. These projects represent the mutual priorities of broad locally-based partnerships,” said Dan Ashe, Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
More than 40 percent of U.S. fish populations are currently considered declining, half of the waters in the U.S. are somehow impaired, and fragmented conservation efforts are not reversing these declines. Besides climate change, principal factors contributing to these declines include: habitat destruction and fragmentation, toxic substances, invasive species, harmful algal blooms and altered thermal regimes.
In addition to helping stem these declines, NFHAP projects also enhance fishing opportunities for the public by putting more dollars on the ground for fish conservation.
Highlights of this year’s funding for NFHAP Partnership projects include:
* Alaska (Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership) – $8,100 in Service funds and $47,600 in partner funds to restore stream banks eroded by motorized trail use on Beaver Creek on the Kenai Peninsula.
* Arizona (Western Native Trout Initiative) – $130,000 in Service funds and $292,000 in partner funds to re-establish habitat for threatened Gila trout in West Fork Oak Creek.
* Hawaii (Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership) – $46,064 in Service funds and $60,050 in partner funds to begin remediation of He’eia estuary and wetland, Kane’ohe Bay, Oahu.
* South Carolina (Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership) – $121,429 in Service funds and $96,700 in partner funds to restore Crabtree Swamp, a tributary to the Waccamaw River, to benefit sturgeon and other migratory fish species.
* South Dakota (Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership) – $21,429 in Service funds and $7,250 in partner funds to demonstrate lake-friendly landscaping techniques using native lakeshore buffers to reduce sedimentation and fertilizer runoff.
* Utah (Desert Fish Habitat Partnership) – $90,000 in Service funds and $150,000 in partner funds to provide fish passage in the Duchesne River for Colorado pikeminnow and other imperiled fish species.
* Virginia (Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture) – $21,428 in Service funds and $21,000 in partner funds to restore instream and riparian habitat for native brook trout in Garth Run, Rappahannock River watershed.
* Washington (Western Native Trout Initiative) – $115,000 in Service funds and more than $3 million in partner funds to increase flows in the Lower Wenatchee River by improving irrigation systems to benefit bull trout, steelhead and Chinook salmon.
* West Virginia (Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture) – $64,285 in Service funds and $183,500 in partner funds to remove 9 fish passage barriers in Thorn Creek, Pendleton County to benefit severely impaired native brook trout populations.
For a complete listing of funded projects, please visit: www.fws.gov/fisheries/fwco/nfhap.
NFHAP is a national investment strategy to maximize the impact of conservation dollars on the ground. Under the plan, federal, state and privately-raised funds are the foundation for building regional partnerships that address the Nation’s biggest fish habitat issues. This comprehensive effort will treat the causes of fish habitat decline, not just the symptoms.
For more information about the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, its partnerships and programs please visit: www.fishhabitat.org
source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service