Tribal Wildlife Grants Benefit Rare and Endangered Species
WASHINGTON, DC, March 25, 2008 (ENS) - In Idaho, the Nez Perce Tribe will receive $200,000 in federal grant funding to assist in the restoration of bighorn sheep and their habitat along the Salmon River.

The Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes will receive $197,000 to restore the swift fox on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and across northeastern Montana.

In Alabama, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians are awarded $200,000 for gopher tortoise reintroduction in restored longleaf pine habitat and to benefit the red cockaded woodpecker.

And in New Mexico, the Mescalero Apache Tribe will receive a grant of $186,762 to conduct a comprehensive habitat inventory for restoration of Rio Grande cutthroat trout on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation.

A herd of bighorn sheep runs alongside the Salmon River. (Photo courtesy Destination Wilderness)

These are a few of the grants totalling more than $6.2 million that were awarded Friday to 38 Native American conservation projects in 18 states by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The total amount is up slightly over the total of $6 million distributed in fiscal year 2007.

Bird species that will benefit include winter seaducks in Alaska's Pribilof Islands, California condors, and greater Sage-grouse in Idaho and Nevada.

Buffalo in Iowa, wolves in Minnesota, and black-footed ferrets in South Dakota are among the mammals that will be helped to thrive, and many tribes will undertake habitat enhancement for a wide variety of species on their reservations.

"Tribal wildlife grants are much more than a fiscal resource for tribes," said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. "The projects and partnerships supported by this program have enhanced our commitment to Native Americans and to the United States' shared wildlife resources."

The grants provide technical and financial assistance for the development and implementation of efforts that benefit fish and wildlife resources and their habitat, including species that are not hunted or fished.

"The Tribal Wildlife Grants program has helped the Service to collaborate more effectively with Native American tribes in conserving and restoring the vast diversity of fish and wildlife habitat that they manage," said Lyle Laverty, Interior assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks.

The grants are provided exclusively to federally recognized Indian tribal governments and are made possible under the Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2002, and through a component of the State Wildlife Grant program.

The grants have enabled tribes to develop increased management capacity, improve and enhance relationships with partners including state agencies, address cultural and environmental priorities, and heighten interest of tribal students in fisheries, wildlife and related fields of study. Some grants have been awarded to enhance recovery efforts for threatened and endangered species.

During the current grant cycle, tribes submitted a total of 110 proposals that were scored by panels in each Service Region using uniform ranking criteria. A national scoring panel recommended 38 proposals for funding.

The grants cover a wide range of conservation projects.

In Rhode Island, the Narragansett Indian Tribe will receive a grant of $199,931 for riparian and wetland restoration along Indian Cedar Swamp Brook.

A grant of $62,604 to the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma will help manage the tribe's wildlife conservation area, which includes the Grey Snow Eagle House, or Bah Kho-Je Xla Chi, the first federally funded eagle rehabilitation facility in the United States. Located in Perkins, Oklahoma, this facility was completed in January 2006 for the protection of bald eagles and golden eagles. The facility is cares for injured eagles that cannot return to the wild, rehabilitates eagles that are returned to the wild, and utilizes the eagles' natural molting process to provide eagle feathers for Native American ceremonies.

A grant for $49,791 will assist the Pomo Native Americans in California with the Big Valley Rancheria Clear Lake Hitch Study Project. The Clear Lake hitch is a culturally significant native fish in Clear Lake. With this grant three separate bands will work together to accelerate the recovery of this fish and to provide stock to other streams in the watershed.

The Lummi Nation of Washington state will receive a grant of $200,000 to support endangered species recovery work in the Nooksack River Basin. It will seek to restore degraded habitat identified as limiting the production of bull trout, steelhead, chinook and other salmon.

More than $34 million has been awarded to Native American tribes through the Tribal Wildlife Grants program in the past six years, providing funding for 175 conservation projects administered by 133 participating tribes.

A complete listing of the 2008 Tribal Wildlife Grants is online here.

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