$1.7 million in Resource Conservation Funds available for projects across Maine

June 2, 2014

CONTACT:
Jessamine Logan, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, (207) 287-5842 or Jessamine.Logan@maine.gov Misty Edgecomb, The Nature Conservancy in Maine, (617) 532-8317 or medgecomb@tnc.org

AUGUSTA– Nearly $1.7 million will soon be available for those seeking to conserve 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.

“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.

Grants are awarded annually, and over the first five funding rounds, MNRCP has distributed close to ten million dollars to important efforts to conserve Maine’s natural resources. Recently funded projects include:

The Casco Bay Estuary Partnership was awarded $115,000 to restore tidal flow and enhance estuarine tidal wetland in Harpswell by replacing two undersized, failing culverts. The Damariscotta River Association used a $107,000 grant to purchase 97 acres of a forested tract that connects the Bureau of Public Land’s Dodge Point preserve with the Maine Department of Inland and Fisheries Wildlife Sherman Marsh Wildlife Management Area. This will represent the first significant connection between the Sheepscot and Damariscotta Rivers corridors. In Sebago, the Loon Echo Land Trust received $136,000 to purchase and permanently protect approximately 150 acres on the shoreline of Perley Pond and the Northwest River. Other 2013 award recipients included: Atlantic Salmon Federation, Great Works Regional Land Trust, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and the Western Foothills Land Trust.

“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.”

“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, including a project summary form and map, for eligible restoration and preservation projects in Maine. All letters of intent must be submitted online by 5:00 pm, June 30, 2014 at http://mnrcp.org/. Applicants whose projects meet the program’s requirements will be invited to submit full proposals. All 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 2015.

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/

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