Utah’s Endangered Species Mitigation Fund allocates $4.4 million to conservation projects in 2023

UTAH –The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Endangered Species Mitigation Fund meeting, which took place on May 3, has allocated $4.4 million to be used on 42 wildlife conservation projects over the 2023 fiscal year, July 1, 2023, thru June 30, 2024.

The amount is an increase over previous years due to a $1 million increase that the Utah Legislature approved during the 2023 legislative session. The fund dates back to 1997 and is overseen by a seven-person committee comprised of diverse stakeholders. Each allocation is meant to be used on projects determined to be of the greatest conservation need, according to Utah’s Wildlife Action Plan.

Money allocated from the Endangered Species Mitigation Fund is meant to be used to prevent additional species from needing to be listed under the Endangered Species Act and work toward helping to create stable populations of currently endangered species in the hopes of significant enough to recover from being downlisted or delisted all together from the Endangered Species list.

“Conservation funding for species that are not hunted or fished is hard to come by,” DWR Assistant Habitat Section Chief Paul Thompson said. “Those of us in Utah working to better understand and maintain healthy populations for our lesser-known species are fortunate that our state legislature had the foresight to establish the Endangered Species Mitigation Fund to help preserve Utah’s biodiversity.”

A June sucker.
A June sucker. Photo: Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Among the many species currently listed under the Endangered Species Act that will be helped in the projects are the Utah prairie dog, June sucker, Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, bonytail, Virgin River chub, woundfin, California condor, desert tortoise, and several plant species. These projects will receive around 40% of the funding.

Another portion of the funding will go toward studies with an emphasis on monitoring native species populations. The information gained will help biologists determine effective management goals and better understand the current situation of species that are moving closer to needing to be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Three projects are focused on further defining the distribution of mountain snails, spring snails, and freshwater mussels. Other species that will be targeted are boreal toad, least chub, bluehead sucker, roundtail chub, flannelmouth sucker, pygmy rabbits, black rosy finch, and other native bats and pollinator species.

The allocated funding will also match Federal State Wildlife Grant funding, helping stretch funds further to create additional conservation projects with even more benefits. The funds are also in addition to $3.4 million coming from the Habitat Council funds and $3.9 million in conservation permit funds which in turn receive funding from Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative.

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