CONTACT:
John Kanter: 603-271-2461
Liza Poinier: 603-271-3211
April 16, 2007


N.H. Fish and Game Eligible to Receive $607,549 in Federal Funds to Conserve Nongame Wildlife; To Qualify, Department Must Provide Matching Funds

CONCORD, N.H. -- Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has announced that the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is eligible to receive federal grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, totaling $607,549, to conserve wildlife and their habitats. The State Wildlife Grant Program is designed to provide annual funding to fish and wildlife agencies that have established wildlife action plans.

"We will use these federal funds to implement New Hampshire's Wildlife Action Plan, preventing wildlife from becoming endangered and conserving wildlife and natural places for future generations," said John Kanter, Coordinator of Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. "Efforts include a range of critical activities outlined in the plan, such as training local communities in conservation planning and the use of wildlife habitat maps. New species protection efforts will focus on Blanding's turtles, New England cottontail and marbled salamanders, as well as others."

Starting in Fiscal Year 2008, New Hampshire faces a new challenge in being able to accept State Wildlife Grant money. To receive these federal grant funds, N.H. Fish and Game must provide an equal amount of matching funds. Prior to now, each state dollar was matched with $3 of federal funds.The state General Fund currently provides up to $50,000 to Fish and Game for its Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, funds that the Department uses toward matching its federal grants. The N.H. Legislature is considering a bill, SB 191, which would increase the General Fund contribution from $50,000 to $350,000 to provide part of the required state match for the federal State Wildlife Grant funds. The N.H. State Senate passed an amended version raising the existing General Fund match by $1, to a total of $50,001. While they did not support additional funding through SB 191, the Committee did state that they would take another look at the issue when working on the state’s budget bill. The bill has yet to be considered by the N.H. House.

"The federal State Wildlife Grant matching challenge provides an opportunity for the state to secure critical funding for needed fish and wildlife conservation work," said Kanter. "This work is a smart investment for New Hampshire, because it costs much less to prevent species from becoming endangered than to take action once they are scarce."

All 56 state and territorial agencies have federally approved action plans in place that collectively provide a nationwide blueprint of actions to conserve imperiled species and prevent them from becoming endangered. The action plans were created in a collaborative effort that included biologists, conservationists, landowners, sportsmen and the general public. A national team that included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and directors from state fish and wildlife agencies reviewed the plans. New Hampshire's plan was approved in 2006.

"States know the most about conservation issues within their borders," said Secretary Kempthorne. "Taken together, all 56 state and territorial wildlife action plans represent the most comprehensive national assessment of the health of fish and wildlife resources, and steps needed to ensure healthy populations. The State Wildlife Grant Program demonstrates our support of conservation partnerships with state, tribal and territorial wildlife agencies as well as private partners.

"The action plans describe what species and habitats are declining, but not yet necessarily endangered," continued Kempthorne. "By using this information, we can act now before it's too late. The Administration is excited about this historic milestone, because it represents our best chance for large-scale cost-effective conservation. This sentiment is shared widely by others in the conservation community."

Teaming with Wildlife, a coalition of more than 5,000 conservation-minded organizations and businesses, is calling for $85 million to fund the action plans in 2008-an increase from the final $67.5 million appropriated for 2007. This year, President Bush has recommended $69.5 million to fund the program for next year.

The Teaming with Wildlife Coalition (visit www.teaming.com) works to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered by supporting increased state and federal funding for wildlife conservation. The coalition is also working to support new legislation that will dedicate greater and more reliable funding to wildlife conservation including part of several new climate change bills. New Hampshire's Teaming with Wildlife contact is wildlife educator Judith Silverberg (judith.k.silverberg@wildlife.nh.gov).

To see a state-by-state table of State Wildlife Grant funding, click here to visit federalaid.fws.gov.

For more information on New Hampshire's Wildlife Action Plan, click here.

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