DOD to grant $850K for tracking western pond turtles, other 'natural resource tasks'

Potential funding ceiling for the program is $25 million.

Updated: August 7, 2021 - 10:56pm

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This week's award goes to the Department of Defense for a planned grant of at least  $851,000 for "natural resource tasks," which includes installing monitoring devices on western pond turtles to track their movements at California's Edwards Air Force Base.

The potential funding ceiling for the program is $25 million.

"The objectives of the work to be performed under this task order are to conduct natural resource tasks on the federal lands belonging to Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), and to prepare reports detailing the results of this work for submission to the USACE Omaha Project Manager (PM), AFCEC Edwards Installation Support Section (ISS) POC, and Edwards Natural Resource POC," the grant notice states.

The request for statements of interest from applicants outlines three mandatory tasks of the funding program. Task 1 is to "collect and monitor the western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata) in potential habitat within Edwards AFB." 

This task involves four stages: trapping and collection; installation of monitoring devices; monitoring and data collection; removal of monitoring devices.

The grant awardee is required to conduct at least two 10-day live trapping sessions during 2022. Once the reptiles have been fitted with tracking devices, monitoring and continuous data collection will ensue for 24 months, with completion expected by May, 2024. Once all the data is collected, the monitoring devices are to be removed from the turtles.

"Little is known about western pond turtle movement within Shuttle Pond and use of the surrounding desert upland area," the funding opportunity notice explains. "This new trapping and monitoring effort will inform that lack of movement knowledge in and adjacent to Shuttle Pond and potentially elsewhere within the Piute Ponds Complex," the grant states.

Two other tasks to be performed under the grant include taking cultures, repairing 1.5 miles of levee road surface, removing cattails below the water surface, and monitoring habitats "that support endangered, threatened, rare sensitive or keystone flora or fauna species." 

Edwards AFB's environmental program ensures that military activities comply with applicable environmental laws, which includes providing research, education and technical assistance related to federal land management and environmental and research agencies, the DOD stated.

The deadline to submit applications for the grant is Aug. 27.