Utah Endangered Species Mitigation Fund Gives 4.4 Million To Wildlife Projects
$4.4 million will go to 42 wildlife-related projects in Utah over the next year, announced the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
A Tuesday press release said that the DWR Endangered Species Mitigation Fund meeting on May 3 approved funding for several projects. In 1997 the Endangered Species Mitigation Fund was created to assist with making sure funds went to the recovery, conservation, and protection of federally (or in need) endangered species. These species are identified in the Utah Wildlife Action Plan.
The goal is to get species that are endangered to be downlisted or delisted under the Endangered Species Act. It is also to help prevent any more animals from making their way onto the endangered species list.
The projects will begin on July 1 of this year through June 30, 2024. This year’s funds have actually increased from last year. An additional $1 million of ESMF restricted funding got the green light for spending during the 2023 Utah legislative session.
"Conservation funding for species that are not hunted or fished is hard to come by," DWR Assistant Habitat Section Chief Paul Thompson said. "Those of us in Utah working to better understand and maintain healthy populations for our lesser-known species are fortunate that our state legislature had the foresight to establish the Endangered Species Mitigation Fund to help preserve Utah's biodiversity."
The seven-person committee that makes up the Endangered Species Mitigation Fund Advisory Committee funded and approved these projects. Here are the projects funds are being allocated to this year:
- Programs and recovery efforts to help Utah species currently listed under the Endangered Species Act, including the Utah prairie dog, June sucker, Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, bonytail, Virgin River chub, woundfin, California condor, desert tortoise and several plant species. Approximately 40% of the total funds will go toward these species' recovery efforts.
- Conducting studies to better monitor Utah's native species populations so they can be more effectively managed in order to prevent additional listings under the Endangered Species Act. Three projects in particular will be funded this year to better understand the distribution of Utah's mountainsnails, springsnails and freshwater mussels. Additional projects to better understand other native species include projects focusing on boreal toad, least chub, bluehead sucker, roundtail chub, flannelmouth sucker, pygmy rabbits, black rosy finch and other native bats and pollinator species.
- Matching federal State Wildlife Grant funding, which will stretch funds even further to help with additional conservation projects that benefit Utah's native species.