North American Wetlands Conservation Act and National Coastal Wetland Conservation  Grants Conserve Saltmarsh Habitat in the ACJV

Special consideration was given to grants that considered ACJV focal species like the Black Rail. Michael Gray

Special consideration was given to NAWCA proposals that considered ACJV focal species like the Black Rail. Michael Gray

2016 was another highly successful year for ACJV partners to conserve wetlands through the USFWS’s North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant (NCWCG) programs. Ten NAWCA Standard ($1 million) Grants were funded in the ACJV, conserving 23,166 acres, two-thirds of which were wetlands. Grant funds leveraged $24.4 million in matching funds and $4.3 million in federal non-match. Nine NCWCG projects were funded in the ACJV in 2016. Grant funds of $8.5 million leveraged an additional $17 million in partner funds, to conserve nearly 12,000 acres of coastal wetlands and associated uplands.

The ACJV ranking committee gave special consideration to NAWCA proposals most likely to benefit our new flagship species (Saltmarsh Sparrow, Black Rail, and Black Duck), and every single Standard Grant funded last year conserved coastal wetlands and directly benefitted one or more flagship species to some degree.

NAWCA Highlights include:

Albemarle/Chowan Wetlands Conservation Initiative – Phase 2 (VA) will permanently protect 2,456 acres, including an easement on 1,275 acres of coastal wetlands (and 1.5 miles of frontage on the North Landing River, part of the Intracoastal Waterway) including 700 acres of globally rare wind-tide oligohaline marsh and scrub-shrub habitat transitioning into 575 acres of cypress-tupelo forest.

Carolina Wetlands Initiative Phases III & IV (NC & SC) permanently protected 5,000 acres, including several parcels (and >1,000 acres) located on the coast, with the rest on tidal rivers like the Cape Fear and Pee Dee.

Chesapeake Rivers Conservation Phases I & II (MD)  permanently protected ~4,900 acres on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, including nearly 3,300 acres of wetlands. Most of the protected tracts include high-quality saltmarsh, or buffering uplands needed for marsh migration in the future.

Connecticut Coastal Initiative II (CT) will result in the protection of nearly 2,000 acres near the coast of Long Island Sound, as well as the restoration/enhancement of  over200 acres. This project will conserve over 200 acres of prime habitat for Saltmarsh Sparrow, including tracts with some of the most extensive habitat in the state for this species.

Lowcountry Protection Phases III & IV (SC) protected 1,900 acres and enhanced nearly 1,200 acres on or near the coast. Phase III will protect lands near ACE Basin and Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuges, including bottomland hardwoods and tidal freshwater wetlands important to Black Rail. The Phase IV project will install or replace rice trunks to improve nearly 1,200 of managed wetlands on Santee Delta Wildlife Management Area, plus protect nearly 400 acres of saltmarsh on the Intracoastal Waterway, near Charleston.

Sansavilla Phase III (GA) permanently protected ~600 acres of saltmarsh on the Georgia coast, near Little St. Simon’s Island, as well as adding over 2,600 acres to the 164,000 acres of protected lands along the Altmaha River.

South Carolina Wetlands Lowcountry VIII (SC) will protect 1,848 acres and enhance 613 acres, which include hundreds of acres of tidal freshwater or saltwater wetlands.

NCWCG Highlights include:

Musgrove Plantation Acquisition Phase 3 (GA) protected 112 acres of maritime forests and freshwater wetlands adjacent to extensive protected saltmarsh on St. Simons Island.

Sansavilla Acquisition Phase 4 (GA) protected some 2,091 acres including tidal wetlands and adjacent uplands in the lower Altamaha River watershed.

Texas Plantation Protection and Wetlands Restoration (NC)  will protect a 1,453 acre property and restore the hydrology on 251 acres of palustrine emergent wetlands on six managed wetland units on the Texas Plantation, which is part of North Carolina’s coastal Alligator River system.

Ocean View Farm (MA) protects the last large (72 acre) tract of unprotected farm land fronting Allens Pond, a relatively pristine saltmarsh complex in Buzzards Bay, which provides excellent breeding habitat for Saltmarsh Sparrow, wintering habitat for American Black Duck, and staging habitat for many shorebird and waterbird species.  Allens Pond is an especially high quality coastal embayment with high water and sediment quality, extensive eelgrass beds, and 1.5 miles of beach with nesting Piping Plover and Least Tern.

Cape May Delaware Bayshore Acquisition Project (NJ) will acquire and protect a 210-acre property known as Delsea Woods in Cape May County, New Jersey, which includes decreasing coastal wetlands types, along with beachfront and a seasonal recreational vehicle campsite and associated structures that will be removed and demolished prior to acquisition. Delaware Estuary is a globally significant stopover site for shorebirds, raptors, and other Neotropical migrant birds;  it is a Ramsar wetland of International Importance; and is one of the few US sites designated as Hemispherically Important by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.