State Wildlife Grants program kicks off for 2011
As I See It
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Media contact: Chairman Rodney Barreto
Keeping common species common is the battle cry for
the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC)
Wildlife Legacy Initiative. This program creates strategic
approaches for conserving all of Florida's wildlife, from the fish
in fresh and salt water to the invertebrates that remain unseen to
the naked eye.
There are many ways the initiative works behind the
scenes to prevent any new species from ever having to be listed as
threatened by extinction. First, it develops the state's Wildlife
Action Plan, the strategy that manages all wildlife in Florida.
Second, it develops and maintains partnerships so resources can be
pooled to conserve wildlife throughout the state. Finally, this is
the place where Florida's State Wildlife Grants program is
These grants, funded by the federal government,
provide the opportunity for some very important conservation work
and research by the FWC and our partners. This year's grant
application period started Aug. 20. Applications will be taken
through 5 p.m. Oct. 15. Grants will be awarded in February, and
selected projects will begin on July 1, 2011.
This is a milestone year as the State Wildlife
Grants program celebrates 10 years of providing funding to states
for managing and conserving wildlife. Teaming with Wildlife Week,
Sept. 4-12, celebrates this occasion by highlighting some of the
projects over the past decade that have benefitted from these
funds. These projects not only keep common species common
throughout the United States, but conserve all species so they
don't become so rare that the price to protect them becomes too
costly economically, socially and environmentally.
The State Wildlife Grants program crosses state
boundaries as well to work throughout the entire habitat of a
species. A project begun in 2008, to restore the habitat of the
red-cockaded woodpecker, involves the states of Alabama, Georgia
and Florida as well as the federal government. Grant funds cover
the cost of restoring sandhill habitat that has disappeared in the
southeastern United States at an alarming rate in the past
half-century. Not only does the restoration conserve the habitat of
the red-cockaded woodpecker, but all other species dependent on the
ecosystem benefit. Project activities include prescribed fires and
thinning dense pine stands.
Another 2008 project, headed by the Florida Natural
Areas Inventory, resulted in the discovery of a new species of
invertebrate. The Auburndale scrub scarab was discovered by a
volunteer, and its known habitat is only in a very small patch of
scrub in Polk County. This gives scientists hope that there are
more species out there yet to be discovered, which points to
healthy habitats and thriving species.
A project completed last year, studied the impacts
of coral bleaching across the South Florida reef tract from Martin
County to the Dry Tortugas. This project provided further detail on
the genetic makeup of the two species of coral studied. Its data
will assist scientists in the future as the stresses on our coral
systems become greater.
Grant applications this year must be relevant to
the Florida's State Wildlife Action Plan and address a conservation
threat to a priority habitat or address the needs of a Species of
Greatest Conservation Need. Priority habitats include coral reef,
sandhill, scrub, softwater stream, spring and spring run, and
seagrass. Preference will be given to projects that address
multiple Species of Greatest Conservation Need and climate change.
In addition, projects must be collaborative in nature and contain a
non-federal match of 35 percent.
Each year Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative
gives out dozens of grants to worthy projects that are feasible,
logical and have a high probability of success. This program stands
for the very best of what we can do as wildlife managers to ensure
the future sustainability of our fish and wildlife resources.
Here's the chance for our partners to come together
in a win-win situation for Florida's species. Doing something now
to conserve our common species will prevent the high price we'll
have to pay in the future to keep a species from going extinct. To
find out more about Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative and
Florida's State Wildlife Grants program, go to