September 15, 2008

$2.6M in Grants to Aid Wetland Projects


Three Maine projects have been awarded $2.6 million in grants from a federal program aimed at protecting valuable wetlands and bird habitat.

More than $26 million was distributed to projects nationwide through the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service's North American Wetlands Conservation Act program.

The Maine Coast Heritage Trust received $1 million to permanently protect 2,335 acres of high-value wetlands and adjacent upland habitat along the Bold Coast area of Cobscook Bay in Washington County.

The area has been recognized as offering high-quality habitat for water-dependent birds and some rare or endangered species, such as the yellow rail and least bittern. The area also offers relatively undisturbed habitat for 14 species of breeding waterfowl, 29 species of migratory ducks or geese and 16 species of wintering sea ducks, according to information from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust's partners in the project are Quoddy Regional Land Trust, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a private individual.

Downeast Lakes Land Trust received a $640,000 grant toward the organization's effort to permanently protect more than 6,600 acres near Wabassus Lake in the Grand Lake Stream area. The project, which is part of a larger conservation effort in the Machias River and St. Croix River watersheds, will protect 550 acres of wetlands and nearly 9 miles of undeveloped lakeshore.

Protecting the property will benefit various bird species, including American black ducks, wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, American woodcocks, sedge wrens and rusty blackbirds.

The Sam Shine Foundation, Timbervest LLC and the U.S. Forest Service are partners on the project.

The Maine DIF&W also received a $1 million grant to protect roughly 2,400 acres of wetlands and upland habitat in the Merrymeeting Bay-Lower Kennebec River estuary.

The estuary is described by the Fish and Wildlife Service as one of the nation's largest intact systems of saltwater, freshwater and brackish tidal marshes. The area provides critical breeding, migrating and wintering habitat for shorebirds, waterfowl, wading birds and fish, including several endangered and threatened species.

DIF&W's partners on the project are The Nature Conservancy, Lower Kennebec Regional Land Trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Ducks Unlimited.

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