Eastern Shore Awarded $919,774 Wildlife Grant

Funding for Bird Habitat Enhancement Precedes Upcoming Birding Festival

NASSAWADOX, VA | September 16, 2009

The Nature Conservancy announced today that it has been awarded $919,774 in North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) funding to be used to protect and restore bird habitat on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. 

This federal NAWCA money is being matched by $2,419,000 from the Virginia Eastern Shore Land Trust, the Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District, The Nature Conservancy, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also contributing $48,920 in non-matching funding.

The Delmarva Peninsula is a globally-important coastal migration corridor for the passage of millions of songbirds, shorebirds, raptors, seabirds, waterfowl, and wading species.  This is especially true in the fall, when millions of migrating birds funnel down towards the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, where they stock up to feed before making their next flight over water.

“Without places to rest and feed on the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, many migrating birds would find it extremely difficult to safely arrive at their wintering habitat,” said Michael Lipford, director of The Nature Conservancy of Virginia. “We are very pleased and proud to receive this funding, and to participate in this important partnership."

Specifically the NAWCA funding will go towards protecting 772 acres of upland forest bird habitat, and restoring another 423 acres in Northampton and Accomack Counties.  This is the third time the "Southern Tip Ecological Partnership" (STEP) has received NAWCA funding for conserving bird habitat.  In previous years the partnership protected/restored 10,770 acres in bird habitat on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

This funding announcement is particularly timely in that it precedes this weekend’s upcoming Eastern Shore Birding & Wildlife Festival in Cape Charles, Virginia, and highlights the economic benefits of conservation.

"The importance of the Fall songbird and raptor migrations to the economy of Virginia's Eastern Shore is reflected in the Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival, which is sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce,” said Stephen Parker, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve. “This latest funding from NAWCA will not only serve the Eastern Shore’s birds, but also our people.”

The Eastern Shore, which lies between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, is well recognized as a critical geographic area for migratory birds and Virginia’s barrier island-lagoon system is arguably the best remaining example of coastal wilderness on the Atlantic Coast of the U. S.  The STEP 3 proposal area is designated a Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a Western Hemisphere International Shorebird Reserve, and contains several globally significant Important Bird Areas (American Bird Conservancy, Audubon).

STEP 3 Partners:
Virginia Eastern Shore Land Trust
Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District
The Nature Conservancy of Virginia
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Coastal Zone Management Program
Ducks Unlimited

Birds that will benefit:

Bald eagleNorthern pintailAmerican widgeon
Peregrine falconLesser scaupBufflehead
American oystercatcherGreater scaupGoldeneye
WhimbrelSnow geeseTurkey
Upland sandpiperAtlantic brantQuail
Salt-marsh sharptailedCanada geeseHooded merganser
sparrowGreen-winged tealRed-breasted merganser
WoodthrushRuddy duckTundra swan
Acadian flycatcherGadwallPrairie warbler
Marsh wrenBlue-winged tealWhite-eyed vireo
Snowy egretWood duckYellow-breasted chat
Black duckRedheadWillet
MallardCanvasbackGlossy ibis
Ring-necked duck  

Other Wildlife:
Delmarva fox squirrel (Endangered Species Act protected)
Northern diamond-backed terrapin (federal species of concern)

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

Contact information

Jon Schwedler
(301) 897-8570

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