WASHINGTON — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners are providing $12 million during the next three years to support 75 fish habitat conservation projects in 27 states, ranging from restoring submerged aquatic vegetation and oyster beds in Florida and New York to restoring degraded stream and estuary habitat for native fish in Hawaii.
“Together with our partners, we identified the 75 projects through the National Fish Habitat Partnership, a diverse coalition of public and private organizations that works to reverse declines in fish habitat through voluntary, non-regulatory actions,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “The projects will benefit aquatic species by protecting, restoring and enhancing stream, lake and coastal habitat as well as anglers by improving recreational fisheries. In doing so, they will also give a boost to local communities that benefit from the outdoor recreation economy.”
The National Fish Habitat Partnership helps Service biologists prioritize conservation work to get the greatest benefit for fish and other aquatic resources and ultimately for the American people. The partnership recently completed the first nationwide scientific assessment of the status of fish habitats and identified conservation priorities across the country.
To fund the projects, the Service is providing $3.17 million this year, with nongovernmental organizations, state resource agencies and other partners contributing an additional $9.45 million during the next three years.
Through the funded projects, partners will work in priority areas to restore stream banks, remove man-made barriers to fish passage, reduce erosion from farm and ranchlands, and conduct studies to identify conservation needs for fish and their habitats. Expected results of the projects include more robust fish populations, better fishing and healthier waterways. Many of the projects also are designed to help fish populations adapt to the effects of climate change and other environmental disruptions.
“Better fishing is a big benefit of these projects,” said Kelly Hepler, Assistant Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. “With better fishing come more tourism, tackle sales and other economic activity, as well as a better quality of life in local communities.”
Projects sponsored by the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership will restore submerged aquatic vegetation and oyster beds in Florida and New York. The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture will remove barriers in Maine and Pennsylvania and remediate acid mine drainage in Virginia. The Western Native Trout Initiative will restore habitat that is crucial to cutthroat trout, Gila trout and bull trout, all of which are imperiled. Projects sponsored by the Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership will restore degraded stream and estuary habitat for native fish.
The list of projects can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/fisheries/whatwedo/NFHAP/documents/2013_FWS_funded_NFHP_projects_listed_by_State.pdf