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Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 512-389-8046, tpwd.news@tpwd.texas.gov [KE]

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — Nov. 1, 2004

TPWD Gets $1 Million To Protect Coastal Habitat

AUSTIN, Texas — U.S. Department of Interior officials announced Oct. 28 that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its partners will receive a $1 million grant towards a $1,508,000 project that will acquire 1,500 acres in the West Bay Conservation Corridor, which is adjacent to West Bay in Galveston County.

The land includes marsh and coastal prairie that provide habitat for many migratory birds, finfish and shellfish. In addition, another 42 acres of shallow open water will be restored to an estuarine marsh. Partners in the project include Harborwalk-Watkins Properties, Trust for Public Lands, Scenic Galveston, Inc., Galveston Bay Estuary Program, the Galveston Bay Foundation, the Texas Nature Conservancy and the landowner. Partners will provide matching funds of $508,000, as well as inkind services.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is awarding more than $13 million to 10 states for fiscal year 2005 under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. The grants provide funding for 16 projects.

Coastal wetland loss in the Galveston Bay system is a continuing concern because of the essential roles that wetlands perform for water quality as well as for fish and wildlife species. “Galveston Bay has one of the highest rates of wetlands loss compared with other coastal estuary systems. The funds will help us and our partners recover from that loss. It’s a welcome addition to a whole range of efforts we’re working on,” said Larry McKinney, Ph.D. and director of TPWD’s coastal fisheries division.

National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grants are awarded to states through a competitive process. The program is funded by the 1990 Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act. Funding for the program is generated from excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat and small engine fuels. These taxes are deposited into the Sport Fish Restoration Account of the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund.

To date, the Service has awarded almost $152 million in grants to states and a U.S. territory under the program. Almost 189,000 acres will have been protected or restored since the wetlands grant program began in 1990.

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