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Pingree Announces $1.5 Million for Coastal Wetland Conservation, Habitat Restoration in Maine

  • Blue Hill Heritage Trust

Today, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) announced $1.5 million in federal funding to protect, conserve, and restore more than 2,000 acres of coastal wetlands and habitats in Maine. With this funding, the Blue Hill Heritage Trust will continue to build on their coastal conservation successes and will add to more than 184,000 acres conserved to date within 5 miles of the Gulf of Maine shoreline. Blue Hill Heritage Trust will work to protect and restore a total of 2,107.9 acres, as well as protect or restore habitats that will specifically support Atlantic Coast Joint Venture’s Flagship Species such as Saltmarsh Sparrow and American Black Duck.

“Countless species rely on the Gulf of Maine’s abundant resources for their survival, including vulnerable bird populations native to the northeastern coast. As we continue to see the worsening impacts of the climate crisis—especially along the coast—it’s more important than ever to fund conservation efforts to protect our wetlands and coastal habitats,” said Pingree. “As a strong supporter of full funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, I’m thrilled these federal dollars will help further Blue Hill Heritage Trust’s conservation and restoration efforts to ensure Maine land, water, and all that inhabit them are protected now and for generations to come.”

The funding for Blue Hill Heritage Trust is part of a $87 million announcementmade by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission—providing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and its partners the ability to help conserve, restore or enhance 315,823 acres of critical wetland and associated upland habitat for migratory birds across North America – including Canada and Mexico.

The Commission approved more than $84.3 million in North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants matched by more than $139.8 million in partner funds. In addition, the Commission approved more than $2.7 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve habitat on two national wildlife refuges across two states. The acquisitions will expand public opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and outdoor recreational access.

“The North American Wetlands Conservation Act is one of the most effective tools we have for migratory bird conservation around the country. Funding for wetland and national wildlife refuge conservation projects will be pivotal in maintaining healthy bird populations, uplifting local economies and improving public access to recreational activities for future generations,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “The funding announced today further supports the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, which is focused on pursuing locally led, collaborative and inclusive efforts to conserve, connect and restore America’s lands and waters.”

“Wetlands are one of the most important ecosystems in the world, providing essential habitat for more than one third of the bird species that breed in North America and billions of migratory birds across the Americas,” said FWS Director Martha Williams.“Wetlands also help buffer communities from storms, sea level rise and are an important natural mechanism for clean water. Projects made possible through these grants will help protect, restore and enhance wetlands vital to migratory birds and many other species of wildlife and provide recreational opportunities and benefits for all Americans.”

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act is the only federal grant program dedicated to the conservation of wetland habitats for migratory birds. Since 1991, more than $6.45 billion in funding has advanced the conservation of wetland habitats and their wildlife across more than 32 million acres of habitat in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico, while engaging nearly 7,000 partners in more than 3,300 projects. Through NAWCA, federal funds are typically leveraged at twice the legally required dollar-for-dollar non-federal match-to-grant ratio. Program partners include private landowners, state, Tribal and local governments, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups, land trusts and corporations.

More than half of Endangered Species Act listed species rely on wetlands for essential habitat. The NAWCA funding approved today will benefit 18 ESA listed bird species and 77 species listed as Birds of Conservation Concern, which helps prevent species from being listed.

Last June, Pingree welcomed FWS Director Williams to Maine for a tour of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge where they got a first-hand look at how the Refuge and FWS are working to protect native Maine shorebirds like saltmarsh sparrows and piping plovers.

Pingree is Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Interior and Environment Subcommittee, which oversees funding for DOI and the FWS. 

More information on these NAWCA grants is available on the Service’s website.


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