Local Conservation Partners Secure $1M for Wetlands Conservation

by Spencer Busler, Assistant Director

In July, TILT, along with several local conservation partner organizations, received a grant contract with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for wetland conservation, restoration and enhancement in the St. Lawrence River Valley. With Ducks Unlimited, Inc. (DU) as the lead grant applicant, another $1,000,000 will be allocated to TILT, DU, the Indian River Lakes Conservancy, the St. Lawrence Land Trust, and Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust. The proposal seeks to protect or improve a total of 2,698 acres of critical waterfowl, shorebird and upland bird habitat within the region.

The grant funding will be delivered from the USFWS North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) program. NAWCA grants are very competitive, being judged against proposals from across the country. This grant program also requires a two-to-one match, which means that for every federal grant dollar received, the matching conservation partners provide two dollars toward the proposal. In total, the St. Lawrence River Valley grant proposal is matching the $1M federal share with over $2.3M in match value. “We are very grateful to have such a strong and dedicated group of conservation partners in the region. Without their participation and support, this opportunity wouldn’t have been possible,” said Jake Tibbles, TILT’s Executive Director.

TILT’s share of the grant contract exceeds $573,000 for the permanent protection of 1,125 acres within its service area. TILT’s projects slated in the proposal include the Picton Island Conservation Easement Phases III and IV, a conservation easement on Grindstone Island, and the protection of over 900 acres within the bottleneck of the Algonquin to Adirondacks (A2A) wildlife corridor. This includes the acquisition of a 500 acre wetland parcel adjacent to Payne Lake and the Pulpit Rock State Forest, and enhancement of 25 acres of emergent wetlands on TILT’s Blind Bay parcel in the Town of Hammond. DU’s enhancement project will restore water flow through this wetland, reduce invasive cattail cover and increase habitat heterogeneity for wetland birds including Mallard, American Black Duck and American Bittern.

“We’re excited to be putting these grant dollars to work, and protecting some of the most important landscapes in the 1000 Islands,” said Spencer Busler, TILT’s Assistant Director. “Wetlands are undervalued. They lessen the impacts of flooding, provide us with clean water, and rear the fish and game that we pursue. By protecting the wetlands, we are protecting so much more.”

This is the second Standard NAWCA grant that TILT and its partners have been awarded since 2015.

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