|Overview of the ESMF program|
Protecting Utah's sensitive species one project at a time
The Endangered Species Mitigation Fund (ESMF) is a state program created during the general session of the 1997 State Legislature (Utah Code 63-34-14) that is administered by the Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The purpose of the ESMF is to provide funding to facilitate conservation of fish and wildlife species and their habitats in greatest need of protection (sensitive species). The priority of this program is to fund projects that benefit species identified as sensitive on the state sensitive species list, including those listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. The primary objective is to direct funds towards the protection of federally listed and state sensitive species, to promote their conservation and recovery and to preclude the need for listing additional species under the Endangered Species Act.
ESMF is funded through a portion of a 1/16th percent sales tax on water and by a tax provided for in the Brine Shrimp Royalty Act (Title 59, Chapter 23). A total of up to $3 million ($2.45 million plus $550,000 from water tax and brine shrimp tax, respectively) is available on an annual basis. Through multi-partner cooperative agreements, the state is committed to participating in three recovery implementation programs for federally listed fish species (Upper Colorado River, Virgin River and June sucker recovery programs), and the state's fiscal contribution to these programs is provided through ESMF. Although not required by the legislation, DNR has opted to distribute the remainder of ESMF funds through a competitive grants program.
Organizations are encouraged to apply for funding on an annual basis. There is no guarantee that funding will be available in future years. To receive funding, grant applications must meet the intent of the legislation and be consistent with the mission and objectives of the DNR.
Utah Code 63-34-14 created the Species Protection Account. The legislation including the purpose of the funds allocated to the account (section 4) is as follows:
Utah Code Section 63-34-14. Species Protection Account.