More than two million dollars will help public and non-profit groups restore and protect high priority wetlands and other natural resources across Maine.
The Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program – which is administered by The Nature Conservancy in collaboration with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – announced awards totaling $2.2 million to help restore, enhance or preserve wetlands and other important habitats at 14 project sites around the state.
The program provides flexibility for both regulators and the regulated community to choose a fee in lieu of more time-intensive traditional mitigation options. These so-called In Lieu Fees are collected by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and then transferred to the Natural Resource Conservation Fund at The Nature Conservancy.
“After four rounds of these awards, we’re starting to see real progress toward conserving Maine’s aquatic resources,” said Alex Mas, who manages the program for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “Traditional mitigation projects can often be scattered, small or poorly located; this program allows us to focus wetland mitigation funds in high priority areas to help ensure they continue to provide important benefits for people and for wildlife into the future.
“All of us who live, work and play in Maine value the state’s natural resources and are committed to their protection. This collaboration between Maine DEP, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has become one of Maine’s most meaningful tools for that work as it facilitates important environmental enhancements and responsible development,” said Commissioner Patricia Aho of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “When conservationists and developers come together as allies instead of adversaries, we are able to do great things for Maine’s natural environment, and its economic one.”
“After all efforts have been made to avoid or minimize wetland impacts, this program provides permit applicants an efficient and workable alternative to traditional mitigation, while providing a better outcome for our wetland habitats,” said Ruth Ladd, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District. “The fees are used to restore, enhance, preserve or create ecologically significant aquatic resources and their associated uplands.”
This is the fourth round of awards from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program to advance important land and water conservation around the state:
Other 2012 award recipients include: Atlantic Salmon Federation, Bangor Land Trust, Georges River Land Trust, Great Works Regional Land Trust, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Sebasticook Regional Land Trust, Three Rivers Land Trust, Western Foothills Land Trust and York Land Trust.
How the grants were awarded:
Public agencies, non-profit conservation organizations and municipalities applied, through a competitive process, for funding from this program for restoration and preservation projects in Maine. Proposals were evaluated and ranked by a Review Committee, which was convened by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and made up of public and non-profit entities. The final funding decisions were made by an Approval Committee, which was comprised of state and federal agencies.
The Nature Conservancy administered the process and is responsible for seeing that the projects are executed. The Conservancy did not vote as part of the Review Committee or Approval Committee on which proposals were approved for funding.
For more information about the Maine Natural Resource Conservation program, visit http://mnrcp.org/.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy in Maine
207-729-5181 ext. 284
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers