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WASHINGTON — Thirty-three Native American and Alaska Native Tribes are getting a $5.9 million boost in Tribal Wildlife Grants to benefit fish and wildlife resources and their habitats. 

The Tribal Wildlife Grant is a program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within the Department of the Interior intended to help fulfill federal trust responsibilities and achieve tribal sovereignty by expanding tribes’ natural resource capacity. 

This year’s funding will support tribes in conservation projects across 16 states, benefiting a wide range of wildlife and habitat, including species of cultural or traditional importance to Indigenous communities.

Among the 33 tribes awarded is the Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska, which received nearly $199,000 to develop a plan to restore the blue mussel habitat within Unalaska Bay to increase food security, reduce paralytic shellfish poisoning, and improve water quality and aquatic ecosystem health. 

Additionally, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan and Indiana will use its award of $199,000 to conduct vegetative and butterfly surveys across 750 acres of restored tallgrass prairie, with a focus on culturally important and federally listed butterfly species.

In Maine, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians’ award of nearly $117,000 will improve fish habitat along the Meduxnekeag River to improve sustenance fishing and increase awareness of watershed restoration.

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“Our success in achieving shared conservation goals depends on our relationships, knowledge-sharing and co-stewardship with federally recognized Tribes,” USFSW Director Martha Williams said in a statement. “By respecting and supporting Tribal interests and needs, we can improve and enhance fish, wildlife, and natural and cultural resources for the benefit of all — a main pillar of the America the Beautiful initiative.”

Since its inception in 2003, including this year’s grants, the competitive Tribal Wildlife Grants Program has awarded more than $111.6 million to Native American and Alaska Native Tribes, supporting 626 conservation projects.

The grants have enabled tribes to develop increased management capacity, improve and enhance relationships with conservation state partners, address cultural and environmental priorities, and help train the next generation of conservationists by engaging tribal students interested in fisheries, wildlife and related fields of study. Some grants have been awarded to support recovery efforts for federally listed threatened and endangered species.