SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. – Wanted: More projects that need a hand helping Georgians enjoy and better understand animals, plants and habitats emphasized in Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan.
The state Department of Natural Resources is again seeking proposals for its Wildlife Viewing Grants Program. Private, public and nonprofit organizations, including local governments, can apply. The deadline is Feb. 1, 2019.
Projects approved last year, the first time the grants had been offered since 2009, varied from bat boxes along the Oconee Rivers Greenway in Athens-Clarke County to an observation platform at Okefenokee Swamp Park and outreach encouraging responsible wildlife viewing on St. Simons Island beaches.
The grants are capped at $3,000 per project and made possible through the Georgia Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund, which is administered by DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section.
Wildlife Conservation Chief Dr. Jon Ambrose said the goal is to provide viewing opportunities that increase awareness and appreciation of native animals not fished for or hunted, rare native plants and natural habitats – particularly those that are conservation priorities in the State Wildlife Action Plan.
Georgia’s Wildlife Action Plan, developed by the Wildlife Resources Division with input from more than 100 organizations, is focused on conserving wildlife and their habitats before these animals, plants and places become rarer and costly to conserve or restore. The plan also stresses the importance of education and outreach in conserving the state’s natural heritage.
“These grants help connect people with wildlife and natural habitats in need of conservation,” Ambrose said. “That connection is critical not only for wildlife but also for the well-being of Georgians. Research shows that conservation of natural environments is an important factor in maintaining human health and quality of life.”
The plan and the grants suit a state where wildlife viewing is big. According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey, about 2.4 million people in Georgia took part in wildlife viewing activities from photography to bird feeding in 2011. The survey estimated related spending at $1.8 billion.
Started in 1999 to support wildlife viewing and education projects, the grants program was sidelined in 2009 by recession-era cutbacks. The Wildlife Conservation Section revived it in 2017 with help from the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation. While the current focus is on viewing opportunities, the hope is to add the original program’s educational component later.
Proposals can include facilities, improvements and other initiatives that provide opportunities for the public to observe wild animals, plants and natural habitats. Notification of awards will be made by Feb. 28. Details, including how to apply, are available at www.georgiawildlife.com/WildlifeViewingGrants.
DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section is charged with restoring and conserving rare and other native species not hunted, fished for or collected and natural habitats through research, management and public education. The section depends largely on fundraisers, grants and contributions. Sales and renewals of DNR’s eagle and hummingbird license plates are the leading fundraiser.
Wildlife Viewing Grants at a Glance
Project proposals should provide public opportunities to observe native wildlife and natural habitats, with an emphasis on species considered conservation priorities in Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan (www.georgiawildlife.com/WildlifeActionPlan).
Deadline to apply: Feb. 1, 2019
Grants are limited to $3,000 each. Funding is provided through Georgia’s Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund.