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AI- 6681   4. C. 3.    
Commissioners Court - Regular
Meeting Date: 09/30/2015  
Grant Application to Coastal Community Partners Grant Program
Submitted By: Maria Medrano, Grants Department
Department: Grants Department  

Discuss and consider submission of a grant application to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Coastal Community Partners Grant program for the Habitat Protection and Enhancement for Northern Aplomado Falcons.
The Federal and State-listed endangered northern aplomado falcon (Falco femoralis septentrionalis) currently has two self-sustained breeding populations in southern Texas, one in Cameron County and the other on Matagorda and San Jose islands. Surveys conducted in 2013 documented 14 breeding pairs in the Matagorda and San Jose Island population; since then, falcons have been observed feeding and/or attempting to nest on Mustang and North Padre islands, indicating a potential population expansion. In January 2015, Nueces County (the County) received a grant to acquire 3,680 acres of undeveloped land on North Padre Island in Kleberg County. The new property borders Padre Island National Seashore and contains large expanses of coastal prairie suitable for supporting 2-3 breeding pairs of northern aplomado falcons. This proposal consists of two major activities: (1) installation of nesting structures and (2) installation of signage for general habitat protection.

Northern aplomado falcon nest structures will be installed using elevated artificial platforms and Spanish dagger yuccas (Yucca treculeana). Artificial platforms will follow specifications of successful designs used by The Peregrine Fund and both structure types will include commercially available grapevine wreaths to simulate abandoned raptor nests. To maximize potential for nesting success, exact locations and placement of nest structures will be determined through coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Peregrine Fund, and Nueces County Coastal Parks. The County also plans to enter into a voluntary Safe Harbor Agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which will serve to assist the northern aplomado falcon in recovery on non-Federal property.
The grant application is for $43,800 with no cash match. The County proposes to provide habitat protection (via new signage) on the tract of land prior to the 2016 northern aplomado nesting season. Habitat protection will include installation of appropriate signage and along both sides of an approximately 7-mile stretch of Park Road 22 and along the beach. These habitat protection measures will assist local law enforcement agencies in limiting access to ecologically sensitive areas until a management plan is developed and public access/use is properly administered.

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