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Maine Awarded Nearly $490K to Boost Wetlands Protection
Release Date: 01/09/2009
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017
(Boston, Mass. – Jan. 9, 2009) – Nearly a half-million dollars of EPA grant money will help Maine advance projects to protect wetlands.
The Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Maine Natural Areas Program (NAP) will share over $487,000 in grants designed to assist the state with four projects: developing and improving its wetland monitoring and assessment program; collecting information on rare wetland types in the state’s central and western mountains; and inventorying wetland restoration and protection opportunities statewide.
“Wetlands are incredibly important to the health and well-being of our environment, and provide tangible benefits to our communities,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Wetlands help store floodwaters, purify and increase our drinking water supplies, provide habitat for wildlife and recreation for citizens. We’re proud to work to improve wetland protection here in New England.”
For nearly two decades EPA has awarded Wetland Program Development Grants to state agencies, federally-recognized Native American tribes, local governments, and interstate associations seeking to improve wetland protection though research, training, mapping, and other mechanisms. In recent years, EPA identified three priority areas for grant applicants to address in their proposed projects: developing a comprehensive wetland monitoring and assessment program; improving the effectiveness of wetland compensatory mitigation; and refining the protection of particularly vulnerable wetland types, such as vernal pools.
The Maine DEP is developing standardized approaches to assess the health of wetland systems based upon an evaluation of aquatic insects and algal communities. The grant award will enhance DEP’s ability to evaluate ecological condition and consistently interpret and present wetland monitoring results so that the data may be more easily used by other programs.
The Maine NAP received three grants. Under the first award, the Landowner Collaboration Program will work with private and public landowners to gather, assess, and synthesize information on rare or significant wetlands in the central and western mountains of Maine. By analyzing certain landscape features and performing associated field work, the Maine NAP will locate and evaluate state- or globally-rare wetland community types; outstanding examples of common wetland types; and, wetland animal and plant species considered rare or imperiled.
Under its second award, the Maine NAP will develop a systematic inventory of wetland restoration and preservation opportunities within eastern coastal and interior Maine for use in the State’s newly implemented In-Lieu Fee Compensatory Mitigation Program.
With its third award, the Maine NAP will update and improve ecological documentation for 74 wetland systems in southern and mid-coast Maine that are considered most at risk from existing and future development pressures. Using improved evaluation methods and mapping procedures, the NAP will produce detailed information suitable for use in regulatory and planning review.
The Maine grants are part of a region-wide funding pool for wetland grants in New England totaling more than $1.7 million. Other wetlands projects are being funded by EPA in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
More information: Wetlands issues in New England (epa.gov/ne/topics/ecosystems/wetlands.html)
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