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RALEIGH, N.C. (April 24) - Most people will never see a Bachman's sparrow, a green salamander or a bog turtle. These animals are secretive in nature but not extinct-not yet anyway, and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is working hard to keep it that way.

The agency announced this week that it will receive nearly $1.5 million to help fund projects and programs that protect and manage nongame wildlife in the greatest need of conservation, as identified in the N.C. Wildlife Action Plan.

The money is awarded by Congress through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the State Wildlife Grant Program. Since 2001 when North Carolina received its first state wildlife grant, the Commission and conservation partners have spent more than $8.7 million on programs and projects benefiting nongame wildlife and their habitats. A few of these programs and projects include:
* A native fishes restoration effort in the Pigeon River;
* A monitoring and survey program for northern flying squirrels in the mountains;
* Surveys and management of colonial nesting waterbirds;
* Inventories of songbirds, small mammals and salamanders;
* A tagging and monitoring program for the robust redhorse in the PeeDee River.

The State Wildlife Grant program provides annual funding to all 56 state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies with established Wildlife Action Plans. The action plans collectively provide a nationwide blueprint of actions to conserve species with conservation needs and prevent them from becoming endangered. They were created in a collaborative effort that included biologists, conservationists, landowners, sportsmen and the general public. The action plans were reviewed by a national team that included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and directors from state fish and wildlife agencies.

North Carolina was the first state agency in the nation to submit its Wildlife Action Plan in October 2005 and has continued to lead the nation in implementing projects that benefit nongame wildlife.

"We will use the money to help prevent wildlife from becoming endangered by studying the current status, habitat needs and threats to wildlife and developing management programs that will address these conservation challenges," said Chris McGrath of the Commission's Wildlife Diversity Program, which manages nongame animals in the state. "Collaboration with academia, state and federal agencies, private organizations and North Carolina citizens is the key to meeting these challenges successfully."

Department of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said that nationwide, the State Wildlife Grant program will distribute $60 million to states and United States territories although a state may receive no more than 5 percent or no less than 1 percent of the available funds. The apportionment is based on a formula that uses the state's land area and population.

"States know the most about conservation issues within their borders," Secretary Kempthorne said. "Taken together, all 56 state and territorial wildlife action plans represent the most comprehensive national assessment of the health of fish and wildlife resources, and steps needed to ensure healthy populations. The State Wildlife Grant Program demonstrates our support of conservation partnerships with state, tribal and territorial wildlife agencies as well as private partners."

Teaming with Wildlife, a coalition of more than 5,000 conservation-minded organizations and businesses, is calling for $85 million to fund the action plans in 2008. President Bush has recommended $69.5 million to fund the program for next year.

The coalition works to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered by supporting increased state and federal funding for wildlife conservation. The coalition is also working to support new legislation that will dedicate greater and more reliable funding to wildlife conservation including part of several new climate change bills.

To read North Carolina's Wildlife Action Plan, visit the Commission's Web site, www.ncwildlife.org. To learn more about Teaming with Wildlife, visit: www.teaming.com or http://statewildlife.nwf.org/nc.
 
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