WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior today announced that through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Cooperative Recovery Initiative (CRI) more than $3.74 million is being committed to nine projects on 12 national wildlife refuges across 12 states to help recover some of the nation’s most at-risk species on or near national wildlife refuges.
“We are targeting our work where it will do the most good for America’s resources,” said FWS Acting Director Jim Kurth. “This initiative is a unique way to engage in conservation work with states and partners, giving the taxpayer a good return on investment.”
Species to benefit from CRI funding include the Miami blue butterfly, ocelots, Puritan tiger beetles, masked bobwhite and spectacled eiders.
Since 2013, FWS has funded 66 projects for nearly $27 million through the CRI. Other species that have benefited include the Oregon chub, the first fish in the nation to be taken off the endangered species list; Sonoran pronghorn; dusky gopher frog; and red-cockaded woodpecker. These projects often provide conservation benefits to other imperiled species and encourage partnerships with states and private groups.
Protect Two Endangered Hawaiian Waterbirds and Core Wetland Habitats at Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
A project team will establish long-lasting protections for two endangered birds, the Hawaiian coot and Hawaiian stilt, against predators and ungulates and create new habitat, resulting in a large-scale restoration of Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, a critically important wetland habitat in Hawaii.
Enhance the Conservation Status of Spalding’s Catchfly
A project team will establish five additional viable subpopulations of 500 individual threatened Spalding’s catchfly on protected habitat at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in Washington and three other partner and privately-owned locations within the Channeled Scablands and Palouse Prairie regions in Washington and Idaho.
Protect Endangered Species Corridors in the Rio Grande Valley
Staff at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Texas will work with partners to acquire a 400-acre conservation easement to expand habitat between the refuge and Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge for the endangered ocelot. The increased habitat will also aid the endangered northern aplomado falcon.
Establish Second Captive Breeding Population of Masked Bobwhite Quail in North America
A project team will expand the endangered masked bobwhite population by creating a captive population in a rearing facility at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma and establish a second captive population and biosecurity program at Sutton Avian Research Center.
Protect and Enhance Watercress Darter Habitat at Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge
A project team will maintain the current pool habitats on Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama for the endangered watercress darter to improve migration and genetic diversity, promote additional aquatic habitats on the refuge, and monitor restored and developed habitats. They will also remove a failing water control structure, promote connectivity for fish passage between pools, and enhance habitats downstream or adjacent to the pools.
Habitat Restoration through Prescribed Fire at Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge for 11 Listed Plant Species and the Florida Scrub Jay
A project team will restore fire-suppressed scrub and sandhill habitat to enhance populations of 11 listed plant species and the endangered Florida scrub jay at Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. In particular, the staff will augment the only protected population of endangered Garrett’s mint through seed collection and strategic dispersal, which will significantly increase the population.
Restore Populations of the Critically Endangered Miami Blue Butterfly
A project team will establish new viable populations of the endangered Miami blue butterfly over a much larger geographic range in south Florida, including on National Key Deer Refuge, Great Heron National Wildlife Refuge, and local state parks.
Puritan Tiger Beetle Habitat Enhancement and Population Stabilization in the Connecticut River Watershed
Two new viable subpopulations of the threatened Puritan tiger beetle will be established by a project team from Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge on state-owned lands in New Hampshire and Vermont, within the Connecticut River watershed. The project will optimize a captive rearing protocol, enabling the beetle to be reared in the lab and translocated to protected habitat sites.
Estimate Global Abundance and Evaluate Changes in At-Sea Distribution of Threatened Spectacled Eiders.
A project team will estimate the global population of threatened spectacled eiders as well as evaluate changes in distribution at marine molting, staging, and wintering areas, including in Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The team will also evaluate changes in non-breeding distribution of adult females captured on the refuge breeding area.
For more information on the 2017 projects and those in previous years, please visit: https://www.fws.gov/refuges/whm/cri/.