$2 Million Plus In Natural Resource Conservation Funds Available Across Maine

June 22, 2012

Alex Mas, The Nature Conservancy in Maine, 207-729-5181 ext. 284, amas@tnc.org / Dawn Hallowell, Maine Department of Environmental Protection 207-557-2624, dawn.hallowell@maine.gov / Ruth Ladd, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 978-318-8818, ruth.m.ladd@usace.army.mil

BRUNSWICK – More than $2 million will soon be available for those seeking to protect wetland and significant wildlife habitat in Maine.

The Nature Conservancy is seeking initial proposals for a new round of competitive grants from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program, which the organization administers on behalf of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The program helps offset impacts to natural resources by funding the restoration, enhancement or preservation of similar habitats. It provides regulatory flexibility for agencies to allow a fee payment in lieu of traditional mitigation options.

“Traditional mitigation projects can often be scattered, small or poorly located,” said Alex Mas, who manages the program for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “This program allows us to focus wetland mitigation funds in high priority areas to help ensure their resiliency in the face of climate change and other threats.”

Grants are awarded annually. The third round of grants from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program was awarded earlier this year:

-In rural Penobscot County, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will protect more than 2,000 acres of habitat, expanding the Mattawamkeag River System Wildlife Management Area. The majority of the property is wetland associated with the river and with Eagle Pond. Nesting bald eagles and rare Clayton’s copper butterflies – verified at just eleven sites worldwide – have been seen in the area.

-In the Midcoast, the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is protecting 150 acres along the Upper Cathance River that connect a significant stretch of existing conservation lands and provide high quality habitat for inland waterfowl and wading birds.

-In Southern Maine, the York Land Trust is protecting just over 22 acres within the watershed of Boulter Pond, which supplies drinking water for thousands of residents of Kittery, York and Eliot. The area is also important habitat for woodpeckers and great blue herons.

-In Franklin County, the Androscoggin Land Trust will protect 42 acres of forestland in the town of Jay as part of their Expanding the Androscoggin Greenway project. The property will be managed for wildlife habitat, water quality protection and low-impact recreation.

Other recent award recipients have included: Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Council; Blue Hill Heritage Trust; Georges River Land Trust; Greater Lovell Land Trust; Kennebec Land Trust; Sebasticook Regional Land Trust; Trout Unlimited; Western Foothills Land Trust; and the towns of Wells and Falmouth.

“This collaboration between Maine DEP, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps is facilitating a systematic and strategic process for comprehensive compensation projects that are saving and strengthening our state’s highest value wetland habitats,” said Commissioner Patricia Aho of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

“In just a few years, this program has become one of Maine’s most meaningful tools used in partnership by conservationists and developers to ensure important environmental protections. It’s a win-win for Maine’s natural environment, and its economic one,” Aho said.

“After all efforts have been made to avoid or minimize wetland impacts, this program provides permit applicants an efficient and workable alternative to traditional mitigation, while providing a better outcome for our wetland habitats,” said Ruth Ladd, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District. “The fees are used to restore, enhance, preserve or create aquatic resources and their associated uplands.”

How to apply: Public agencies, non-profit conservation organizations and private individuals are encouraged to submit a letter of intent for eligible restoration and preservation projects in Maine. All letters of intent must be submitted by July 20, 2011 at http://mnrcp.org/. Applicants whose proposed projects meet the program’s requirements will be invited to submit full proposals. Proposals will be evaluated and ranked by a Review Committee convened by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and made up of public and nonprofit entities. The Nature Conservancy administers the process but does not decide which proposals receive funding. Final grant awards are expected to be made in early 2013.

For more information about the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program, or to apply for funding, visit the program’s new website at http://mnrcp.org/.