The Land Trust has been awarded a $1 million grant toward its efforts to acquire and preserve miles of shoreline on the Indian River Lagoon. The award was received through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the North America Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). Through NAWCA, the Fish and Wildlife Service assists local government and qualified non-profit organizations with large grants to preserve diminishing wetland areas that are critically important to waterfowl and other migratory birds.
The Land Trust's grant will allow it to permanently protect Bee Gum Point, a 111-acre bird sanctuary located directly along the Atlantic Flyway, a narrow corridor along the east coast of the United States used by millions of migrating birds each year. The Land Trust acquired Bee Gum Point in March 2011 with financial assistance from The Conservation Fund (TCF), a national land conservation organization which provided a bridge loan for the acquisition. TCF quickly recognized the importance of this property, which contains a mile of mangrove shoreline and acres of interior ponds that provide food and shelter for dozens of species of birds, and jumped at the opportunity to assist in the effort last year.
In obtaining this significant grant, the Land Trust also has become a partner with the most important government agency in the nation for protecting wildlife habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service relies on partnerships with local organizations, like IRLT, that are working within local communities to protect and restore environmentally sensitive areas that it otherwise would not be able to reach.
IRLT Board Chairman, Bill Helmly was ecstatic when he heard about the grant and summed up the sentiments of the Board and staff well - "Through this grant I look forward to strengthening our partnerships with both The Conservation Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow the Land Trust and its supporters to protect the remaining shoreline of our Lagoon in Indian River County.