DNR offers grants for wildlife viewing projects

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SOCIAL CIRCLE – Georgia is offering a helping hand to projects that help people experience the animals, plants and natural habitats emphasized in Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan.
The help comes by way of the state Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Viewing Grants Program. The agency is now accepting proposals for 2021. The deadline to apply is Jan. 8.
The grants (georgiawildlife.com/WildlifeViewingGrants) are capped at $3,000 per project and supported through the Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund, which DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section manages.
Wildlife Conservation Section Chief Dr. Jon Ambrose said the goal is to provide viewing opportunities that raise awareness of native animals not fished for or hunted, rare native plants and habitats – particularly those considered conservation priorities in the Wildlife Action Plan. This comprehensive strategy (georgiawildlife.com/WildlifeActionPlan) is focused on conserving Georgia wildlife and their habitats before these plants, animals and places become rarer and costly to conserve or restore.
“Offering opportunities for people to get outdoors and see and better appreciate wildlife in need of conservation is not only crucial for these species, it’s crucial for Georgians,” Ambrose said. “Research shows that conservation of natural environments is an important factor in maintaining human health and quality of life. And even more so during these challenging times.”
The six projects approved last year varied from installing a viewing scope by a freshwater pond where wood storks nest at Savannah’s Oatland Island Wildlife Center to adding bat houses and native plant plots in a Watkinsville park and building a chimney swift tower at Atlanta’s Freedom Park. Despite delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the projects have made progress, and some are complete.
Although the wildlife viewing grants are small, the interest they tap is big. About 2.4 million people took part in wildlife-viewing activities in Georgia in 2011. The same U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey estimated related spending at $1.8 billion. Nationwide, the number of people involved in wildlife viewing surged from about 72 million in 2011 to 86 million in 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service reports.
Grant proposals can include facilities, improvements and other initiatives that provide opportunities for the public to observe nongame animals, plants and natural habitats. Notification of awards will be made by Feb. 22, 2021. Visit georgiawildlife.com/WildlifeViewingGrants for details, including how to apply.
DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section is charged with restoring and conserving rare and other native species not hunted, fished for or collected and natural habitats through research, management and public education. The section relies largely on fundraisers, grants and contributions. Sales and renewals of DNR’s eagle, hummingbird and monarch/pollinator license plates are the top fundraiser annually.

Grants at a Glance
Project proposals should provide public opportunities to observe native wildlife and natural habitats, with an emphasis on species considered conservation priorities in Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan (georgiawildlife.com/WildlifeActionPlan).
Deadline to apply: Jan. 8, 2021
Grants are limited to $3,000 each. Funding is provided through Georgia’s Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund.
Details, including how to apply: georgiawildlife.com/WildlifeViewingGrants

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