Federal Funding Gives Michigan Wildlife a Boost
Two programs provide matching funds to state programs for wildlife species with the greatest conservation need. Both the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program (WCR) and State Wildlife Grants (SWG) Program funds can be used as match for state funds. For each dollar of Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund money spent on approved projects, the WCR or SWG will provide $3 in match. Combined, Michigan is eligible for over $3 million dollars in federal matching funds. This has allowed the DNR's Natural Heritage Program to expand projects and programming for nongame, threatened, and endangered species.
In 2003, we implemented projects involving inventories on state lands. Over 50 state public land areas were visited involving over 285 site surveys. These surveys found and updated over 100 records of rare species or habitat occurrences. New sightings were found for Henslow's sparrow, Louisiana waterthrush, and grasshopper sparrow. Other locations for Blanding's turtles, eastern box turtles (such as the one to the right found in southwest Michigan), and tamarack tree cricket were found in southern lower Michigan. Additional surveys are planned for summer 2003.
Another portion of the funding was used to update and redesign four herp species posters produced by the Program. There was the Turtle, Frog and Toad, Snakes, and Salamanders posters. Response to the new design was great. Unfortunately, they are no longer available
One of the biggest threats to Michigan's native wildlife populations is the spread of invasive species. Plants like purple loosestrife and buckthorn are replacing important wetland plants. Autumn olive and honeysuckle invade and crowd out important grassland and forest understory plants. A portion of the federal funds has been set aside to take aggressive measures in controlling these invasive plants and restore native vegetation to sites.
Wildlife Viewing Web Site
For people who like to view wildlife, funds are being used to convert the Michigan Wildlife Viewing Guide to a web based format. Soon visitors and wildlife enthusiasts will be able to visit the state website and locate viewing areas, find out information on seasonal wildlife occurrences, or even find out about wildlife shows and events. In addition, work on individual sites will improve the visitor's enjoyment and experience.
In supporting survey efforts, federal funds were used to monitor bald eagles and other raptors as well as support the frog and toad survey. Additionally, 2002 marked the start of the second breeding bird survey. A similar project conducted 20 years ago led to the publication of the first Atlas of Breeding Birds in Michigan. The new atlas project will require five years of survey work with an additional one to two years to produce a second edition of the atlas.
Federal match funds have also supported osprey releases, grassland restorations, and prescribed burns. Future projects will include several surveys, management activities, the dedication of an interpretive site for endangered and threatened species, a children's information booklet on endangered species, and the development of a statewide biodiversity atlas.