WASHINGTON — The most ambitious effort in the history of fisheries management to enhance and protect fish habitat is now underway, thanks to a partnership announced by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation. As the partnership evolves, it aims to protect and preserve fish habitat while putting more fish on the hooks of recreational anglers.
The National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP) is the impetus for that objective, and the catalyst putting it into motion is the "More Fish Partnership Fund," a $500,000 grant program supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation.
The Federation Nation's support of the partnership is considered vital as its nationwide network of volunteers spread across 47 states will provide the grass-roots manpower required to complete community-based projects spearheaded by state fish and wildlife agencies.
"BASS and the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation conservation programs view this partnership as an opportunity to identify and implement grass-roots fish habitat programs on a variety of levels," said Noreen Clough, former BASS conservation director. "As avid anglers, Federation Nation members are acutely aware of the need for restoration and conservation of declining reservoirs and other aquatic habitats."
NFWF's executive director, Jeff Trandahl, added, "As anglers and conservationists, we cannot stand by and accept the dramatic loss of our fish populations. Our nation's top biologists from state and federal agencies have developed a nonregulatory, science-based action plan to reverse the declines seen all over the country. The B.A.S.S. Federation Nation and the NFWF will reach out to anglers, industry and conservation groups to join us in achieving the goals of the plan."
Since its inception, the NFHAP was created to cast a collective net over the nation's fisheries, from streams to rivers and lakes to the coastlines, and provide a means of coordinating a massive effort to protect, preserve and enhance fish habitats.
Everything comes with a price, the NFHAP concluded. And that is where the "More Fish Partnership Fund" comes into play. The fund will essentially serve as the bank for the plan, awarding the grant money necessary to roll out habitat enhancement and preservation projects across the nation.
With the grants in place, the only missing piece of this massive plan is the manpower required to help state agencies get the work done at the ground level. That is where the Federation Nation membership will help put the dollars to good use.
The fund will support Federation Nation clubs and other local conservation partners in community-based aquatic restoration projects that involve volunteers, youth, and other anglers in improving awareness about aquatic resources. That awareness will be fueled by the volunteers who come together to work on completing projects big and small.
Under the program, small grants of between $10,000 and $30,000, and leadership grants from $75,000 to $100,000 will be awarded competitively by the NFWF. Proposed activities eligible for funding will include aquatic habitat restoration, water quality improvement, aquatic vegetation management and watershed planning and management.
The program will provide what is seen as a significant opportunity to demonstrate on-the-ground commitment to improving conditions for sportfisheries nationwide. Priority will be given to projects that directly implement priorities under the NFHAP.
Matching funds will be required on a 1:1 basis or higher.
This joint public/private fund will serve as one of the first important vehicles through which federal and state agencies, foundations and corporations can provide financial support to projects aimed at fulfilling priority conservation objectives for sport fish habitat restoration with conservation-minded organizations like the Federation Nation. The BASS conservation program and the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation have been NFHAP partners since its inception.