The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will receive two grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service totaling $670,000 to protect wetland bird habitat on Little Yarmouth Island in eastern Casco Bay and along the Weskeag River in the Midcoast.
“Part of what makes the Maine coast so special is the incredibly diverse species of birds that breed here or stop over during their migration. Maine’s marshes, tidal flats, and other wetlands serve as essential habitat for these birds, and it’s important that the most significant areas be protected,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, in her press release making the announcement Wednesday. “I’m so glad federal funding will allow the state to acquire and conserve these properties for their beauty and natural significance.”
The grant funding comes from the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment, which has oversight over funding for the program.
The Little Yarmouth Island project will receive $220,000 to acquire and permanently protect 13.2 acres on the southern half of the island in eastern Casco Bay. It also will protect 7,022 feet of shorefront and 27.6 acres of associated coastal and freshwater wetlands, according to the press release. It will benefit numerous waterbirds, shorebirds and wading birds, including 43 of 91 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service priority trust species and several threatened and endangered species. The Maine Department of Natural Resources has identified the project area’s intertidal mudflats as a high-value shellfish growing area for clams and oysters.
The Weskeag River Wetlands conservation project will receive $450,000 to acquire four properties, totaling 238 acres. Ninety-four of the acres are wetlands and approximately 34 acres are intertidal mudflats. The project will protect approximately 60 acres of nationally decreasing coastal wetland types, more than a mile of tributary streams, and two miles of undeveloped tidal shoreline.
The Weskeag River supports some of the highest diversity of species of any marsh in Midcoast Maine and the Penobscot Bay region. The parcels will be added to Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife R. Waldo Tyler Wildlife Management Area in South Thomaston and managed by them, according to the press release.