RCN Grants Program enters 8th year

The Northeast Regional Conservation Needs (RCN) Grants program is currently accepting proposals for the 2015 funding year.  Up to $250,000 will be awarded in 2015; 50% non-Federal matching funds are required, proposals are due March 1, 2015.  The RCN program allows states in the region to leverage limited funds and use the best available science to prioritize shared species and habitats in need of conservation.  This is the 8th year of the RCN grants program – to date, 35 projects have been awarded over 2.4 million dollars and pledged an additional 2.4 million dollars in matching funds.  This funding has helped produce species and habitat assessments, maps, and tools to help conservationists protect and manage the shared biological heritage in the northeast.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Wildlife Management Institute work with the northeastern states to pool a portion of each state’s State Wildlife Grants Funding to support the RCN grants program.  With oversight from the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Fish and Wildlife Diversity Technical Committee, the RCN projects are guided by priority topics selected by Northeastern State and Federal partners. The RCN program revisits the priority topics each year, and through adaptive management, the priorities are refined to address both emerging and long standing conservation needs.  Additional funds and expertise are leveraged though partnerships with four of the 22 Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs).

RCN projects focus on northeastern Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and priority habitats with the intent to aid all conservation activities in the northeast region and help state agencies revise their State Wildlife Action Plans. Projects have ranged from individual species assessments to region wide habitat models.  For example, the recently completed Wood Turtle status assessment and conservation strategy provides valuable information to the 75% of northeastern states that list the species as a regional SGCN.  Another product completed this year is the Identification of Tidal Marsh Bird Focal Areas – a document that helps identify state responsibility for conservation of this incredibly diverse and threatened habitat along the Atlantic coastline from Virginia to Maine.  This year also saw the completion of an RCN project, Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis, a valuable document that synthesizes almost 50 plans, resource documents and tools to provide guidance and information that states can incorporate into their Wildlife Action Plans and inform further cooperative efforts to protect and conserve the Northeast’s vulnerable fish and wildlife and their habitats.

The final report for the first phase of the RCN program is below. Abstracts, progress reports and final products for each RCN project, as well as information on the program and submission procedures for the 2015 RFP, can be found at RCNgrants.org.