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----- Forwarded by Rich Greenwood/R3/FWS/DOI on 03/26/2001 08:23 PM -----

March 23, 2001
Mitch Snow 202-208-5634

Thanks to a new Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program, State and
Territorial fish and wildlife agencies will share $50 million in new funds.
These funds are targeted at wildlife species deemed most in need of
additional conservation efforts, acting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Acting Director Marshall Jones announced today.

According to Jones, the law authorizing the new program directs States to
provide priority funding for species with the greatest conservation need.
AInitially, we=re asking each State to describe how it will determine which
species are in the most need of assistance, and how they anticipate these
species will benefit from this new program," Jones said.

The agencies may use the money from the new program for wildlife
conservation through land acquisition, habitat improvement, research,
education, and other areas.   A percentage of the funds may also help pay
for wildlife-related recreation projects, such as the construction or
improvement of wildlife viewing areas, observation platforms, and land and
water trails.

As provided by law, no State may receive more than 5 percent or less than 1
percent of the available funds. The District of Columbia and the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will receive one-half of 1 percent and Guam,
American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the
Northern Mariana Islands will receive one-fourth of 1 percent.  A copy of
the preliminary apportionments table is available at http://fa.r9.fws.gov.

The new program was created by Congress last year during passage of the
Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001. Like the
Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program which it expands, the program
pays for up to 75 percent of the cost of each project while the States
contribute at least 25 percent of the cost.  These funds are meant to
supplement, but not replace, existing funds available from the Federal Aid
in Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs for new projects and
activities as well as to enhance ongoing ones.

The popular user-pays, user-benefits Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration
Program and the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program are financed
by excise taxes on sporting arms, fishing and boating gear, and motorboat
fuels.  Collectively, these programs have raised more than $5.2 billion to
assist States in the conservation and restoration of sport fish and
wildlife species.  While these programs are funded by permanent
appropriation, the new Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program
requires Congressional approval of funding on an annual basis to continue.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System which encompasses more than 530 national wildlife refuges, thousands
of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66
national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological
services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws,
administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations,
restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife
habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their
conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that
distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and
Hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

                                  - FWS -

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