In the past week, two large-scale multi-stakeholder projects that will include the use of Gulf Coast Prairie LCC tools and science received the green light to proceed in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.
State Wildlife Grant (SWG) for the Southern Plains Pollinator Conservation Implementation Program
The Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. will receive $500,000 in federal funds to be matched by $403,607 in nonfederal funds. This is one of numerous grants totaling $5.5 million that have been awarded in 2016 to state fish and wildlife agencies through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program.
The project partnership includes Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Oklahoma tribes, and state universities. The Pollinator Conservation Implementation Program will create and enhance habitat for a variety of Endangered Species Act (ESA) candidate and petitioned pollinator species including monarch butterfly, regal fritillary, and rattlesnake master borer. Using ecological niche modeling, the partners will examine potential impacts of climate change on targeted species, which will inform management activities. Outcomes of prescribed fire and seeding activities will be measured, with an anticipated increase of up to 15% in targeted pollinator species occurrence within the project areas.
The Louisiana Federal Partnership Project
This initiative includes four federal agencies collaborating to protect, enhance and restore pollinator habitat in Southwest Louisiana. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide $330,000 for financial assistance on private land conservation; U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists will monitor floral and pollinator diversity and abundance to evaluate the effectiveness of applied conservation practices; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will provide $100,000 through grants to partners working on pollinator habitat and outreach; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will increase pollinator habitat on National Wildlife Refuges and prioritize pollinator habitat in the Partners Program, which also assists private landowners.
The agencies have joined forces to address significant pollinator declines over the past few decades. Pollinators are essential to the sustainability of U.S. food production systems. The Gulf Coast Prairie LCC will collaborate with USGS and the Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries in the landcover mapping portion of the project, using the Grassland Management Inventory Tool to assist with inventory and monitoring of grassland restoration and other conservation efforts.