At the Wildflower Center, staff know that promoting native plants isn’t just about helping the state’s flora. Among other benefits, native plants provide wildlife with shelter and food, assisting everything from songbirds to salamanders with survival. So the center’s manager of plant conservation was thrilled to oversee grants that would help endangered animal and plant species when she came on board this past spring.
“This is the first time the Wildflower Center has been given the opportunity to fund conservation grants,” says Dr. Karen Clary, “and we were delighted to be recognized for our conservation knowledge and to see that the money assists plants and animals in need.”
The Wildflower Center helps conserve Tobusch fishhook cactus and about 12 other rare and endangered plants. And now the Wildflower Center is awarding grants totaling $637,858 to eight organizations doing work to benefit this and four other Texas species. The one-year grants are to conduct conservation research or set aside habitat to assist the recovery of the two bird and three plant species. The species listed as federally endangered are: the black-capped vireo, golden-cheeked warbler, Navasota ladies’ tresses, Texas prairie dawn and Tobusch fishhook cactus.
The funds for the Endangered Species Conservation Grant program come from mitigation dollars paid voluntarily under the Endangered Species Act. The money from highway departments, municipalities, commercial and other land developers was collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and passed on to the Wildflower Center for distribution through the Endangered Species Conservation Grant program. Mitigation dollars related to destruction of habitat for a federally endangered species will be used for conservation-related grants for that species. “It’s about making something good come from this impact to an endangered species,” Clary notes.
The eight grant recipients were chosen out of 16 submitted proposals. Wildflower Center and outside experts chose the following projects:
The projects will be funded through November 2013. However, Clary hopes that added conservation granting opportunities will be developed in the future. The Center will retain an additional 10 percent of the funds from the Endangered Species Conservation Grants program for grant administration and for its conservation projects.
Story by Barbra Rodriguez