Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

MUCC, DNR seek federal funds for state wildlife

By Tom Watts

Correspondent

Lansing – For the first time, Michigan United Conservation Clubs
is taking part in a unique federal program that advocates for
federal funding to support state wildlife programs.

The program, Teaming with Wildlife, was formed at the national
level in the 1990s, and according to Amy Spray, a resource policy
specialist for MUCC, gaining federal funding to support Michigan’s
wildlife programs will benefit the state and outdoorsmen.

‘Prior to 2000, there existed a federal source of money for
threatened and endangered species, but there was no funding to
support general wildlife conservation to keep common species
common,’ Spray told Michigan Outdoor News.

Teaming with Wildlife is made possible through a joint effort of
MUCC and the Michigan DNR, as well as a grant from the Wildlife
Conservancy Society.

‘We are now in the process of re-engaging and growing the
Michigan coalition members to continue to advocate for state and
federal funding and policy changes that promote wildlife
conservation,’ said Spray, who noted that through advocacy from the
Teaming with Wildlife coalition, Congress created the State
Wildlife Grants Program in 2000.

But in order for Michigan or any state to qualify to receive
grant monies, the DNR had to create a State Wildlife Action Plan,
which provides a strategic framework for wildlife conservation and
management, Spray said.

‘This plan outlines 14 priority threats to wildlife and habitats
in our state,’ she said. ‘Land fragmentation and invasive species
are at the top of this list.’

The plan offers several recommendations to address these
threats, Spray said.

‘Michigan has received approximately $1.75 million per year
since the program’s inception,’ she said, noting that a state match
is required.

Spray said the Teaming with Wildlife coalition embraces the
DNR’s philosophy of conservation, protection management, and use
and enjoyment of the state’s natural resources.

‘In order to conserve wildlife and protect their habitats, we
need research management, policy changes, and funding,’ she said.
‘This coalition has been formed to assist the state in prioritizing
its actions and help the DNR implement them.’

Amy Clark-Eagle, coordinator of the DNR’s Wildlife Action Plan,
has been instrumental in the Teaming with Wildlife program since
its inception.

‘MUCC wanted to start a Wildlife Action Opportunity Fund: they
were asking the DNR what we felt were the most important things
that needed to be done,’ Clark-Eagle said. ‘The thing we came up
with was the Teaming with Wildlife coalition. And out of that came
the grant Š Amy Spray is working on implementing.’

Clark-Eagle said since the DNR’s mission is to protect and
conserve Michigan’s natural resources, the new plan will be used to
help identify ‘hot spots.’

‘The DNR does not have the funds to do the necessary things that
need to be done,’ Clark-Eagle said. ‘This way, we work as partners;
this coalition is one way for us to not just pull together
information, but to combine powers and move forward for
funding.’

Spray said the DNR realizes it cannot fully implement the
recommendations in the Wildlife Action Plan alone. ‘Especially with
their limited resources and during this time of a budget crisis in
Michigan,’ Spray said.

Clark-Eagle said the DNR utilizes its $1.7 million state
wildlife grant, but it’s not enough.

‘We have used those funds that benefit the greatest conservation
needs in the state,’ she said. ‘One reason Teaming with Wildlife is
important (is) it helps provide a framework to best use grant funds
in the future. This gives us a way to determine what are the best
projects.’

Spray said the time is now to join and help make a difference in
Michigan.

‘We will be making a big push in the coming months to add new
members and also encourage local chapters of statewide
organizations to join,’ Spray said.

Volunteers will have a direct impact on making the coalition
work.

‘We are also working on developing a volunteer hands-on habitat
improvement program with the DNR,’ Spray said.

For more information on Teaming with Wildlife, visit
www.teaming.com or contact Amy Spray at aspray@mucc.org.

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