3/12/2014 2:00:00 PM DRA Awarded Conservation Grant Submitted article
More than $1.2 million will help public and nonprofit groups, including the Damariscotta River Association in Damariscotta, 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 - announces awards totaling more than $1.2 million to help restore, enhance or preserve wetlands and other important habitats at 12 project sites around the state.
The Damariscotta River Association in the Midcoast, with $107,000, will purchase 97 acres of a forested tract that connects the Bureau of Public Land's Dodge Point preserve with the Maine Department of Inland and Fisheries Wildlife Sherman Marsh Wildlife Management Area. This will represent the first significant connection between the Sheepscot and Damariscotta Rivers corridors.
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 DEP and then transferred to the Natural Resource Conservation Fund at The Nature Conservancy.
"I'm excited that this announcement marks the fifth year that the Maine DEP, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have come together and done great things for Maine's natural and economic environments.
"By providing in lieu fees as a mitigation option for developers, we are able to support important environmental enhancements in areas susceptible to development," said Commissioner Patricia Aho of the Maine DEP.
"This collaboration between regulators and developers reflects our mission to steward our environment and natural resources and ensure a strong and sustainable economy," Aho said.
"Five years since this important program began, we're starting to see progress toward conserving Maine's aquatic resources," said Alex Mas, who manages the program for The Nature Conservancy in Maine.
"This program results in outstanding projects to protect and improve aquatic resources throughout Maine. At the same time it provides the regulated public and regulatory agencies a streamlined process to obtain compensatory mitigation for a wide variety of authorized projects," said Colonel Charles Samaris, Commander of the New England District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"I am extremely proud of the collaborative work by federal, state, and nonprofit agencies to solicit high quality projects, review them in detail, and make difficult choices to best employ the appropriate and meaningful grants available through the program," he said.
This is the fifth round of awards from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program to advance important land and water conservation around the State, and joining the DRA are:
In Central Maine, the Atlantic Salmon Federation will use $62,000 toward restoring sea-run alewives and other migratory fish to Souadabscook Stream in the Penobscot River watershed by building a fishway on an impassable town owned dam currently blocking the stream.
In Southern Maine, $136,000 will be used by the Loon Echo Land Trust to purchase and permanently protect approximately 150 acres on the shoreline of Perley Pond and the Northwest River in Sebago.
In the Midcoast, the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust will use $199,5000 to protect an 86 acre property in Georgetown, which is a valuable and critical parcel to the protection of the Morse Pond area. The property connects 325 acres of other KELT properties and creates a new connection between them and Reid State Park.
Other 2013 award recipients include: Great Works Regional Land Trust, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Western Foothills Land Trust.
For more information about the Maine Natural Resource Conservation program, visit http://mnrcp.org.