A new Maine conservation fund which collects fees from developers has awarded $1.8 million to projects that help restore or preserve wetlands and other wildlife habitats.
The Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program was created last year to allow developers to pay fees when projects require the filling of wetlands or other impacts on habitat.
Fees are collected by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and then transferred to the Natural Resource Conservation Fund at The Nature Conservancy. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also works with the fund to identify priority projects.
The $1.8 million is the first round of grants from the fund and will help 11 public and nonprofit groups move forward on resource protection projects across Maine.
“At a time of limited resources, this program has awarded crucial funding that will allow us to preserve a diversity of wetlands, waterfowl and wading bird habitat, and deer wintering areas,” said John Pratte of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in a press release. “The funding also enables our department to begin restoration projects that increase wetland health and function.”
Alex Mas, of The Nature Conservancy in Maine, said, “Traditional mitigation projects can often be scattered, small or poorly located. This program allows us to focus wetland preservation and restoration in priority areas and help to ensure their resiliency in the face of climate change and other threats.”
The recipients of these competitive grants are the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Chewonki Foundation, Great Works Regional Land Trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Maine Coastal Habitat Foundation, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance, Three Rivers Land Trust, Town of Falmouth, Trust for Public Land and the Western Foothills Land Trust.
A second round of awards is expected to be announced later this year.