Rendell Announces Investment to Protect PA’s Wild Resources

HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell said more of Pennsylvania’s native plants, fish and animals will be conserved with the investment of $1.2 million in the Wild Resource Conservation Program.

“Pennsylvania is blessed with a wealth of species, and we have a duty to conserve these treasured natural resources for future generations,” Rendell said. “These grants to environmental groups, educators and researchers committed to the study and examination of wildlife resources are part of our ongoing efforts to improve and enhance our environment.”

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources administers the Wild Resource Conservation Program, which is providing 26 grants through the state’s Growing Greener program. The program works with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commission to operate the program.

“All of the projects aided by these grants will make important contributions to the three pillars the Wild Resource Conservation Program uses to support biodiversity in Pennsylvania: research, conservation, and education,” said DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis. “Whether it’s tracking migration of the eastern red bat or charting mussel populations in the Susquehanna River, each one of these studies is invaluable in the conservation of our natural resources.”

Launched in 1982, the Wild Resource Conservation Program primarily finances research and protection efforts for native, non-game and wild plant species. Funds from the program have supported the reintroduction of otters, osprey, peregrine falcons and fishers to Pennsylvania; identified new plant and animal species; located rare plant species within the state; researched habitat for migrating birds; and provided educational materials to schools.

In addition to Growing Greener funds, the Wild Resource Conservation Program relies on state income tax refund donations, license plate proceeds and donations to support its work to protect and identify species of special concern.

2007 WILD RESOURCE CONSERVATION PROGRAM GRANTS

RESEARCH PROJECTS

• Carnegie Institute: $16,500 to conduct herbarium and field studies of Pennsylvania plants of special concern; discover and document new rare and endangered species.

• Western Pennsylvania Conservancy: $48,000 for conservation and management of fish and other aquatic species while working with state agencies.

• Western Pennsylvania Conservancy: $24,600 for use of wet scrub/shrub-dominated habitat by willow flycatcher and other bird species in Pennsylvania.

• Clear Water Conservancy: $15,000 to define scrub oak barrens of central Pennsylvania; map parcels and identify private and public segments for conservation and restoration.

• Wilmington College: $24,300 to determine conservation status and management guidelines for endangered northeastern bulrush.

• Mountain Watershed Association Inc.: $45,000 to conduct migration telemetry for the eastern red bat along the Allegheny Mountains.

• Carnegie Institute: $70,300 to derive quantitative assessments of the distribution, abundance and habitat associations of breeding birds in Pennsylvania. Counts will be conducted at 13,000 randomly selected roadside sites.

• Western Pennsylvania Conservancy: $34,200 to study the yellow lamp mussel and its distribution in the Juniata River at 25 locations.

• Western Pennsylvania Conservancy: $400,000 to conduct county inventories of rare species, natural communities and intact landscapes, with new phases in counties with developing greenways and comprehensive plans.

• Western Pennsylvania Conservancy: $55,000 to conduct field and herbarium studies of rare and other significant plant species and their habitat; document occurrences of at least 60 plant species of special concern and evaluate their rarity status.

• Carnegie Museum of Natural History: $27,600 to research freshwater crayfish in Pennsylvania, assisting in conservation, management, law enforcement and public awareness issues in waterways across the state.

• Pennsylvania State University: $49,300 to study home range, habitat use and ecology of the endangered northern flying squirrel — as well as the southern flying squirrel — in northeastern Pennsylvania.

• Cleveland Museum of Natural History: $17,500 to inventory rare plants in Northwestern Pennsylvania, to include stewardship projects in state parks, Erie National Wildlife Refuge, and Edinboro Lake Fen. Also, provide advice on invasive species removal.

• Philadelphia University: $37,500 to study threatened red-bellied turtle, concentrating on habitat use, threats in southeastern Pennsylvania; develop public education and teacher training materials related to habitat protection.

• Morris Arboretum of University of Pennsylvania: $34,700 to conduct field surveys gathering data on plant species listed as “tentatively undetermined.” These species are believed to need protection, but not enough information exists to determine what level of protection is needed.

• Pennsylvania State University: $34,900 to conduct ichthyologic survey of navigational channels including, deepwater habitats in the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela rivers; determine the influence of dredging; develop a protocol for surveying fish on big rivers; and provide data for review of fish species.

• Pennsylvania State University: $16,000 to study factors influencing long-term reproductive success and fitness of ovenbirds; monitor nesting success and determine importance of habitat, male age, and variation of weather and gypsy moths on ovenbird fitness.

• Pennsylvania State University: $26,100 to conduct third-year study testing the hypothesis that local soil parameters are correlated with bird territory size, abundance and diversity, and egg shell thickness and variability. Also, examine relationship between soil conditions, snail abundance, bird abundance, ovenbird territory size, and egg shell thickness.

• Missouri Botanical Garden: $18,000 to summarize all published information on Pennsylvania mosses and verify the presence of moss species in the state; produce county-level distribution maps.

• Indiana University of Pennsylvania Research Institute: $38,700 to undertake a golden-winged warbler conservation initiative in Pennsylvania, focusing on one of the most critically threatened, non-federally listed species in eastern North America. The project will evaluate population sources, associating demographics with habitat characteristics.

• California University of Pennsylvania: $19,700 to conduct a comprehensive inventory of fish biodiversity in the South Fork of Tenmile Creek. This is the second year of a three-year project evaluating the diversity of fish species in Tenmile Creek, which is affected by agricultural runoff and acid mine drainage.

CONSERVATION PROJECTS

• Western Pennsylvania Conservancy: $10,125 to produce a logical, ecologically-based habitat protection plan for the endangered Eastern massasauga rattlesnake; specifically working to prevent further decline of the snake’s habitat and known populations in Pennsylvania.

• Natural Lands Trust Inc.: $18,704 to prepare a site management plan for Pine Swamp Natural Area, French Creek State Park, and Berks and Chester counties that would maintain an open meadow undergoing succession after grazing was stopped. Pine Swamp contains a bog turtle population and at least eight rare plants.
• Pennsylvania State University: $49,979 to identify sites and manage the restoration of Eastern native grasslands and the repatriation of the regal fritillary butterfly from the last viable population at Fort Indiantown Gap, Lebanon County.

• Wildlife Information Center Inc.: $45,000 to continue the Lehigh Gap Wildlife Refuge Ecological Assessment, including biotic surveys, a focus on ecological interactions, and the establishment of monitoring protocols and management plans for all refuge habitats.

EDUCATION PROJECTS

• Pennsylvania Environmental Council: $31,000 to identify priority conservation issues and implement conservation education efforts as part of the Northern Allegheny River Conservation Literacy Project.

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