State Wildlife Action Plans Working together to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered Leaders in Wildlife Conservation Applaud Wildlife Action Plans We are proud to announce a historic milestone in wildlife conservation: the creation of 56 wildlife action plans, one for each state and territory. The wildlife action plans collectively form a nationwide strategy to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered. Our nation’s wildlife agencies collaborated with a remarkable list of partners to address the challenges to wildlife, identifying ways to conserve the lands and waters that are essential to both wildlife and people. The action plans differ from state to state, reﬂecting each state’s unique natural resources and conservation needs. All are based on the solid success record of state wildlife agencies in restoring habitats, managing wildlife and working with local conservation groups and private landowners to ﬁnd solutions for wildlife. The action plans are ﬁrmly grounded in science, and they also balance differing interests in how we use the lands and waters that are essential to wildlife. The result? Practical action plans that will work in every state. Our nation has a long history of success in conserving wildlife. Over the last century, we have brought some of our most treasured wildlife back from the brink of extinction. Today, the challenges to keeping wildlife from becoming endangered are greater than ever before. By taking the next critical step toward implementing the wildlife action plans, we will be closer to meeting our goal of preventing wildlife from becoming endangered. There is a role for everyone to implement the wildlife action plans, whether it is managing land, conserving species, or providing funding opportunities. Join us now to ensure our nation’s children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy wildlife and the places they live. John Cooper, President Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies H. Dale Hall, Director U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Table of Contents Executive Summary Wildlife Action Plans: A Bold New Direction for Conservation 4 A New Era for America’s Wildlife 6 American Wildlife Conservation: Rising to Challenges in Times of Need 6 The Unﬁnished Legacy 7 Teaming with Wildlife: A National Coalition 7 Red Cockaded Woodpecker insert installation/AL DWFF New Federal Funds for Wildlife Conservation 7 Wildlife Action Plans: A Strategic Approach to Wildlife Conservation 8 Eight Elements of Conservation Success 8 Charting the Course 10 Flexible, Innovative Conservation Strategies 10 Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Leads National Effort 10 Working Together: Reaching out to Stakeholders and Citizens 10 Building on Existing Conservation Plans 12 Focusing on Wildlife in Greatest Need of Conservation 13 Collared Lizard/Christine Clinger, NV DOW Identifying Habitat for Wildlife 14 Identifying Challenges to Wildlife and their Habitats 16 Targeting Action at Key Challenges 18 Measuring Success 22 Adaptive Management: Learning by Doing 23 Working Together 23 Taking Action 25 Weighing a bobcat/IADNR Carrying on the Legacy: A Call to Action 29 State Agency Contacts 30 Credits The document was funded in part by grants from the Federal Aid in Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Programs and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional support was provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The document was written by Deborah Richie Oberbillig (www.DeborahRichie.com) with support from Ghost- writers Communications, Inc. (www.gwriters.com). Dave Chadwick, Kate Haley, Rachel Brittin, and Sean Robertson from Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies edited the document. Rocky Beach, Chris Burkett, Naomi Edelson, Jim Greer, Genevieve LaRouche, Jon Kart, and Ron Regan commented on earlier versions. Milkweed survey/Missouri Department of Conservation Graphic design of the document and state summaries was provided by MajaDesign, Inc. (majadesign@adelphia. net). Based on this design, Rachel Brittin, Rebecca Brooke, and Sean Robertson from Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies laid-out the state summaries. Cover photo: Black Skimmers by Bruce Reid. Line art provided by USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database. Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 3 Executive Summary Wildlife Action Plans: A Bold New Direction for Conservation T he wildlife action plans repre- closely through the Association of Fish sent a collective vision for the and Wildlife Agencies and the U.S. Fish future of conservation. For and Wildlife Service on the development the ﬁrst time, states have had of the wildlife action plans. By combining the opportunity to assess the full range the best scientiﬁc information available of challenges and actions that are vital with extensive public participation, states to keeping wildlife developed effective action plans that will from becoming work for wildlife and for people. endangered. The wildlife action plans focus on practi- The impetus for the cal, proactive measures to conserve and historic planning restore important lands and waters, curb effort comes from the establishment of invasive species and Teaming with Wildlife address other pressing conservation coalition, represent- needs. The tools for conservation em- ing more than 3,500 ployed in the action plans emphasize agencies, conservation incentives, partnerships and collabora- groups, and businesses tive management, rather than top-down who for more than a regulations. The action plans also stress decade have tirelessly the importance of gaining the knowledge championed the cause necessary to effectively conserve a broad for funding to keep range of wildlife species. In addition, ev- wildlife from becom- ery state wildlife action plan incorporates ing endangered. The continued monitoring and evaluation in coalition’s work led to order to measure the success of the passage of the Wild- proposed actions in conserving wildlife. life Conservation and Bald eagle/USFWS, Dave Menke Restoration Program Taken as a whole, the wildlife action and the State Wildlife Grants Program in plans present a national action agenda for “The state wildlife 2000. As a requirement of these pro- the conservation of wildlife species that is action plans are grams, Congress asked each state wildlife focused on those that have not beneﬁted setting the stage agency to develop a “comprehensive from conservation attention due to lack of for a bold and wildlife conservation strategy”—a wildlife dedicated funding. The results are already ambitious new action plan—that evaluates wildlife con- apparent in improved relationships at all servation needs and outlines the neces- levels—across public and private owner- direction for sary action steps. ships, across state boundaries, and in the conservation of growing list of new groups and individu- species and While the wildlife action plans share a als working together for wildlife. Taking habitats.” common framework of the eight required the timely next steps to adequately fund – Ron Regan, Wildlife elements, they are tailored to reﬂect these wildlife action plans is crucial in Director, Vermont Fish each state’s unique wildlife, habitat, order to achieve the goal of preventing and Wildlife Department and conservation needs. States worked wildlife from becoming endangered. and Chair, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Teaming With Wildlife Committee 4 State Wildlife Action Plans Wildlife At The Crossroads—The Need For Action Today, we stand at a crossroads for wildlife that deﬁnes America the Beautiful. Across the planet, one in three amphibian species is waning. In the U.S., amphibian declines are particularly serious in California, the Rocky Mountains, the Southwest and Puerto Rico. More than one-quarter of all bird species in the U.S. have dropped in numbers since the 1970s, and more than 200 of 800 native bird species are listed on the Audubon WatchList, which serves as an early warning system for birds that could become endangered. From densely populated states like New Hampshire to the big sky country of Montana, and from the coasts of Florida to California, conserving high quality habitat, restoring degraded lands and waters, and removing invasive species are among the top priorities for conservation. We are clearly at a crossroads, and we have a choice. We can wait for wildlife to decline and react to problems with expensive, last-ditch recovery efforts, or we can act now to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered. Taken together, the wildlife action plans represent the right decision to take action before wildlife recovery becomes costly and controversial. Working together, we can take proactive and cost-effective steps to conserve wildlife before it is too late. Riparian restoration in Oregon/Bruce Campbell Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 5 “It is clear that our agencies have A New Era for America’s Wildlife taken this effort T well beyond he state wildlife action plans Herds of bison, antelope and elk on the anyone’s expecta- represent a new era for Ameri- open plains almost vanished, white-tailed tions. The agency ca’s wildlife. The collective deer fell to one or two percent of their feat of com- original numbers, biologists, planners, pleting the action plans ﬂocks of wild turkey and managers, with took more than three were scarce, and lakes considerable help years and required once abundant with from our conserva- massive mobilization, waterfowl fell silent. tion partners, have cooperation and effort. If we take a closer look Sportsmen and crafted conservation at how these plans women, conservation- plans that identify were developed, we ists and game wardens priority actions see the value both in rallied. Thanks to their to conserve our the completed action Riparian planting/Idaho DFG unceasing efforts, nation’s wildlife and plans and in the process that yielded Congress responded with a key piece of key habitats. This new effective partnerships. legislation in 1937, the Wildlife Restora- tion Act (also known as the Pittman-Rob- tremendous effort ertson Act). The Act established a user fee has illuminated a American Wildlife in the form of an excise tax on hunting national need that Conservation: Rising to equipment to conserve game species calls for securing Challenges in Times of Need and assure conservation of their habitats. additional fund- A similar act passed in 1950, the Sport In America, wildlife is considered a pub- Fish Restoration Act (also known as the ing and exempliﬁes lic trust held by the government for the Dingell-Johnson Act), which extended our leadership role beneﬁt of the common good. This funda- the user fee to ﬁshing gear with a focus in North American mental idea dates back to the American on restoring ﬁsheries. Additional fund- conservation.” Revolution and the establishment of our ing for ﬁsheries restoration was provided –Ed Parker, Chief, Bureau nation’s democratic ideals. State wildlife with the enactment of the Wallop-Breaux of Natural Resources, agencies have the responsibility to assure Amendments in 1984. Connecticut Department that wildlife remain healthy and to pro- of Environmental vide people with plentiful places to enjoy The state wildlife agencies used the fees Protection; member of the wildlife, whether it is watching animals, generated from these programs effec- National Advisory Acceptance hunting, or ﬁshing. tively. In combination with regulated Team; Vice-President of hunting and ﬁshing harvests, the agencies the Association Fish and As our nation has grown, America’s wild- worked with partners to conserve impor- Wildlife Agencies life agencies have adapted and expanded tant habitats, and they transplanted game their efforts in the face of new, unprec- species to help restore populations. The edented conservation challenges. Time return of the white-tailed deer, striped and again, when faced with new conser- bass and wild turkey are a tribute to the vation challenges, wildlife agencies have wildlife agencies, sportsmen and women, worked together with sportsmen and conservationists, and the outdoor industry women and other conservationists to craft who all worked together. bold, landmark conservation programs. Half a century later, Congress responded The beginning of the twentieth century to another time of wildlife crisis with the marked a pivotal point for wildlife. Until passage in 1973 of the Endangered Spe- then, few regulations protected wildlife. cies Act. By providing emergency protec- 6 State Wildlife Action Plans tions for wildlife in immediate danger of than 3,500 organizations and agencies, extinction, the Endangered Species Act including bird watchers, hunters and helped prevent species from disappearing anglers and other recreational users, forever. Nearly every state also enacted conservationists, professional biologists, state programs to formally identify and wildlife managers, and nature-related protect critically imperiled species. businesses. This combined effort has resulted in the successful recovery of many treasured species such as the bald eagle and New Federal Funds for peregrine falcon. Wildlife Conservation The Unﬁnished Legacy In response to the efforts of the Team- ing with Wildlife initiative, Congress The tremendously successful programs enacted two new programs in 2000, the of the 20th century were focused on Wildlife Conservation and Restoration species that were hunted and ﬁshed or Program and the State Wildlife Grants formally identiﬁed as “endangered”. Program. Both programs provide fund- While these programs have achieved ing to state wildlife agencies for on-the- remarkable successes, the approximately ground conservation projects and wildlife 85 percent of our wildlife that are not conservation planning aimed at prevent- considered “game” or “endangered” have ing wildlife from becoming endangered, lacked adequate conservation attention. and both are administered by the U.S. Consequently, many are declining. This Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service includes thousands of species of birds, distributes funds to states based on each mammals, reptiles, amphibians, ﬁsh and state’s population and land area. Federal invertebrates. Lacking the resources to funds allocated under both programs conserve these remaining species, our must be matched by funding from state nation’s wildlife agencies have been con- or other non-federal sources. Although strained in their ability to realize fully their conservation mission to conserve all wildlife resources. The State-Federal Wildlife Conservation Partnership Wildlife conservation in the United States is a partnership between Teaming with Wildlife: the states and the federal government. While state wildlife agencies A National Coalition have the primary responsibility for managing wildlife, the federal government plays a crucial role in helping conserve migratory In the early 1990s, a coalition of species, managing national wildlife refuges and other federal lands, wildlife agencies and conserva- and providing funding for wildlife conservation. The state wildlife tion organizations launched the agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have a long history Teaming with Wildlife initiative of working closely together to jointly support the national interest in to expand the funding base for wildlife conservation. Federal funds for state-level wildlife conserva- wildlife conservation to include tion are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including species that are not “game” the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs, State Wildlife Grants, or “threatened” or “endangered” Endangered Species programs, and the Landowner Incentive Program. in order to allow state wildlife agencies to take a more com- prehensive approach to conser- the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration vation. The initiative informs members Program was authorized as a permanent of Congress and other decision-mak- program, funding was only provided ers about the importance of this work for the ﬁrst year. Nonetheless, federal and the need for funding. Over time, funding has continued to ﬂow to the the initiative has grown to include more State Wildlife Grants Program. Over the Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 7 last ﬁve years, these two programs have Eight Elements of “The strategies provided more than $400 million in new are large-scale, money for wildlife conservation, funds Conservation Success efﬁcient, effective that have been matched with over $200 Congress required states to address eight million from the states. These programs and will give core elements in the wildlife action plans. have become the federal government’s taxpayers the primary vehicles designed to prevent The states ﬁrst identiﬁed the condition of biggest bang wildlife from becoming endangered. wildlife in terms of wildlife distribution, for the buck.” abundance, locations, and conditions – Amelia Orton-Palmer, of habitats. Next, they analyzed those Wildlife Action Plans: ﬁndings and identiﬁed knowledge gaps Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s lead staff A Strategic Approach to and problems in order to specify actions needed to address conservation needs. person on the wildlife Wildlife Conservation Then they developed monitoring plans action plans in the Mountain-Prairies Region to ensure the conservation of species As a condition for receiving the new and habitats and the effectiveness of the federal funds from the Wildlife Con- actions. During development and imple- servation and Restoration Program and mentation of the plans, the states made State Wildlife Grants Program, Congress great efforts to coordinate with conserva- charged the state wildlife agencies with tion partners, including federal, state, and preparing a strategic assessment and local agencies, Indian tribes, and the action plan for wildlife, known tech- nically as a “compre- hensive wildlife conservation strategy.” The states were required to submit these action plans to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for review by October 1, 2005. The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Advisory Acceptance Team The Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the National Advisory Acceptance Team to review each of the wildlife action plans. Reﬂecting the collaborative spirit that characterized the entire process, this team was composed of assistant regional Karner blue butterﬂy/J&K Hollingsworth directors from each of the eight U.S. Fish and Wildlife public in order to secure expertise and Service regions and ﬁve state wildlife agency directors. opinions. The states included a schedule The group held week-long meetings once a month to of plan review to make sure it would be review the state action plans, with in-depth regional regularly updated. These statewide plans reviews taking place between meetings. The team use all available information to outline carefully scrutinized every wildlife action plan to make the most pressing conservation needs in sure that all eight required elements were addressed each state. fully and then made a ﬁnal recommendation of approval to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director. 8 State Wildlife Action Plans Eight Required Elements of Wildlife Action Plans Congress asked states to address eight elements in order to conserve all wildlife, with a focus on wildlife of greatest conservation need: (1) Information on the distribution and abundance of wildlife, including low and declining populations, that describes the diversity and health of the state’s wildlife. (2) Descriptions of locations and relative conditions of habitats essential to species in need of conservation. (3) Descriptions of problems that may adversely affect species or their habitats, and priority research and survey efforts. (4) Descriptions of conservation actions proposed to conserve the identiﬁed species and habitats. (5) Plans for monitoring species and habitats, and plans for monitoring the effective- ness of the conservation actions and for adapting these conservation actions to respond to new information. (6) Descriptions of procedures to review the plan at intervals not to exceed 10 years. (7) Coordination with federal, state, and local agencies and Indian tribes in developing and implementing the wildlife action plan. (8) Broad public participation in developing and implementing the wildlife action plan. (Fiscal Year 2001 Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, Public Law 106–553, codiﬁed at U.S. Code 16 (2000) 669(c)). “The action plans collectively form the building blocks of a national strategy for the United States to conserve wildlife diversity.” – Nancy Gloman, Assistant Regional Director, US Fish and Wildlife Service Freshwater mussel survey/Beth Swartz Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 9 “We collectively are trying to Charting the Course construct a new comprehensive Flexible, Innovative and created a working group of state vision for the agency personnel, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Strategies future of conserva- Service staff, other agency partners, and conservation groups. The working group tion in our states. State wildlife action plans needed to recommended starting points on issues Make no mistake, meet the eight required elements in order such as deﬁning wildlife of greatest this is uncharted to receive State Wildlife Grant funding, conservation need, identifying and but, ultimately, the opportunity was for territory, so there assessing habitats, and public involve- states to accomplish the larger goal of is no blueprint, no comprehensive conservation in order ment and outreach. off-the-shelf recipe, to prevent wildlife from becoming The Association’s semi-annual meetings no one size ﬁts all. endangered. Congress and the U.S. Fish and working group meetings provided a Each state may learn and Wildlife Service gave states forum for states to share ideas with each facets of its strategy considerable ﬂexibility in developing other, and to keep the wildlife action strategies that ﬁt each state’s unique from the others, but wildlife resources, management context, plans on track for completion. In 2003, each state is unique the Association and the U.S. Fish and and local issues. The intent was to give Wildlife Service sponsored workshops in its needs.” states the ﬂexibility to reach the goal of in four regions of the country for agency – Dr. Jeffrey Koenings, keeping wildlife from becoming personnel and partner organizations to Director of the Washington endangered in a way that works for review key planning tasks, brainstorm Department of Fish wildlife and for the people in each state. ideas, and test out approaches. In 2004, and Wildlife one year before the action plans were Wildlife agencies worked together to due, the Association hosted a national share information and priorities across ju- “One Year Out” conference where risdictions. The states also gathered ideas participants from almost every state and and suggestions from federal territory shared ideas and discussed the agencies and conservation merits of different planning approaches. groups, drawing on many dif- The conference proved an ideal forum ferent models and approaches for discussing both cutting edge conser- to develop new and innova- vation planning theories and practical tive planning approaches. experience in on-the-ground wildlife management. Throughout the entire plan- Association of Fish ning process, the Association organized smaller meetings, conference calls, and and Wildlife workshops as new topics arose, maintain- Agencies Leads ing an ongoing dialogue across the states and building an active network among National Effort the people writing the plans. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies played a Working Together: pivotal role in convening Reaching Out to states to help them develop high quality action plans that Stakeholders and Citizens Bighorn capture/Utah DWR would guide wildlife conservation in the states. Working through the Association, The state wildlife action plans stand out the state wildlife agencies outlined guid- from many prior conservation plans be- ing principles for the planning process cause of the broad participation and open 10 State Wildlife Action Plans The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ mission is to serve as the voice of ﬁsh and wildlife agencies by helping to foster a deep appreciation and understanding for the public management and conservation of the ﬁsh, wildlife, and natural communities that represent the diversity of North America. In 1902, eight wildlife managers from six states met in Yellowstone National Park on behalf of the country’s beleaguered ﬁsh and wildlife populations. They realized that the nation’s rich ﬁsh and wildlife legacy would survive only with careful planning and vigilance. And they stood together—one voice for ﬁsh and wildlife. Today, more than 100 years since their ﬁrst meeting, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies includes all 56 states and territories, and the federal agencies of the United States. The Association also represents many provinces of Canada and Mexico. Its core functions are inter-agency coordination, legal services, international affairs, conservation and management programs, and legislation. Over the last century, the Association has provided the forum for achieving most of our nation’s landmark ﬁsh and wildlife successes—including the Pitman-Robertson, Dingell-Johnson, and Wallop-Breaux Acts. process. This was not just a technical ex- The range of effective ways employed to “Never tell people ercise carried out by a few scientists and involve people in the development of the how to do things. planners. Thousands of people contrib- wildlife action plans can serve as models uted to the action plans, with input and for future conservation efforts. In devel- Tell them what to advice coming from federal, state and oping the wildlife action plans, many do and they will local government agencies, bird watch- state agencies tried to break free from surprise you with ers, hunters, anglers, private landowners, traditional “public comment periods” their ingenuity.” conservation groups, local industries, and and routine public meetings to ﬁnd new – George Patton, General, many other members of the community. ways to engage resource users and the United States Army The extensive involvement of stakehold- general public in the wildlife action plan ers and the general public demonstrated discussion. Working together led to new a widespread enthusiasm for actions to relationships, fostered greater trust and conserve wildlife and habitats. When it encouraged creative problem solving. comes to caring about wildlife, there is Across the country, people contributed plenty of common ground. time and energy to action plans that they now can claim as their own. Many of the Public participation and stakeholder individuals and groups are taking the next coordination were requirements of the step toward carrying out the action plans wildlife action plan process laid out by as partners in wildlife conservation. Congress. The state wildlife agencies saw beyond this requirement and focused In Action: Nebraska’s Natural Legacy instead on their long-standing role to Project Partnership Team serve both wildlife and people. By working with stakeholder groups and the The Nebraska Game and Parks Commis- general public, state wildlife agencies sion recognized early on the importance could translate pressing conservation of including a diverse array of stakehold- needs into practical, consensus-based ers in their state’s action plan, known actions. The wildlife action plans are as the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project. ﬁrmly grounded in science, and they Wildlife agencies and some stakehold- successfully balance differing interests ers, such as private landowners, have when considering how we use the lands had conﬂicts in the past over endangered and waters that are home to wildlife. species and federal regulations that Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 11 might impede farming and ranching. The Building on Existing state agency created the Natural Legacy Project Partnership Team to involve Conservation Plans stakeholders in the public participation The wildlife action plans built upon process. The members became trained decades of conservation experience facilitators and hosted 16 public meet- and a sizeable volume of prior plans for ings that generated positive discussions individual species, habitats, and land- among private landowners and conserva- scapes. Rather than attempt to duplicate tion groups. or replace prior conservation planning efforts, developing the wildlife action The stakeholders who served on the Part- plans gave the states the opportunity to nership Team remain active in carrying take a new look at them and to synthe- out the action plan’s recommendations. size what they collectively meant for pre- Groups as diverse as The Nature Con- venting wildlife from becoming endan- servancy, Pheasants Forever, gered. By drawing together the ideas from the Nebraska Cattlemen, and these other sources, the wildlife action Audubon Nebraska have tak- plans began with a strong foundation. en an active role in putting the action plan to practice In Action: Building on Florida’s by working with landowners Existing Efforts and implementing much- needed prairie restoration The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conserva- projects that beneﬁt people tion Commission is a leader in conduct- and wildlife. ing species assessments and adopting systematic, landscape-based designs to In Action: Taking New Jersey’s protect connections among important Action Plan to Stakeholders habitats and maintain important natural and the General Public processes. Florida incorporated two of the most signiﬁcant conservation plan- In New Jersey, the Division of ning efforts for statewide wildlife diversity Fish and Wildlife ﬁrst worked in its wildlife action plan. The Florida Fish internally to create a draft and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s that was reviewed by report, Closing the Gaps in Florida’s conservation leaders. Then, Wildlife Habitat Conservation System, the Division of Fish and identiﬁed the minimum amount of land Wildlife and New Jersey in Florida that, if conserved, would Future, an independent ensure the long-term persistence of most foundation, co-hosted a elements of Florida’s wildlife diversity. “Wildlife Summit” that The University of Florida’s Ecological Bobcat/New Jersey DEP drew more than 150 people Network Project identiﬁed a statewide representing a spectrum of agencies, system of landscape hubs and conserva- watershed associations, planning tion corridors to conserve critical ele- councils, conservation organizations, ments of Florida’s native ecosystems and and sportsmen’s groups and foundations, maintain connectivity among ecological who engaged in lively discussion on nine systems and processes. These resources key conservation topics. Their comments were used as building blocks to create provided invaluable guidance to shaping new and innovative conservation efforts the ﬁnal wildlife action plan. in Florida’s wildlife action plan. 12 State Wildlife Action Plans A Strong Foundation of Prior Planning In developing the wildlife action plans, state wildlife agencies drew on a sizeable volume of data sources and prior plans for individual species, habitats, and landscapes. Plans consulted by wildlife agencies ranged from: • Existing Wildlife and Fish Management Plans • State Heritage Programs/Conservation Data Centers • Audubon Important Bird Areas • Regional Species At Risk Conservation Plans • Endangered Species Recovery Plans • Existing Wildlife Diversity Strategic Plans • Partners in Flight Bird Conservation Plans • The Nature Conservancy’s Ecoregional Assessments • North American Waterbird Conservation Plan • US Shorebird Conservation Plan • Bat Conservation Plans • Ducks Unlimited Conservation Plans Regional Marine Fisheries Commission Management Plans Egrets at sunset/USFWS • • GAP Analysis Programs • State Natural Areas Assessments • State and Regional Growth Management Plans • State Outdoor Recreation Plans • National Wetlands Inventory • Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Management Guidelines Focusing on Wildlife in States used a variety of information sources to identify target species, includ- Greatest Need of ing natural heritage programs and other Conservation wildlife occurrence databases, data from other planning efforts and assessments, The wildlife action plans are building a and input from agency biolo- new approach to conservation by looking gists, academics, and other beyond wildlife that is formally listed as scientiﬁc experts. While the “endangered” or managed as a traditional selection process included game species. Congress asked states species under state-level to assess the health of a “full array” of programs and formal wildlife with particular attention to the protection of the federal wildlife species that have low or declin- Endangered Species Act, ing populations and are “indicative of the the effort placed a major diversity and health of wildlife” of each emphasis on identifying a state. Most of the wildlife action plans broader set of species of refer to these targeted species as “species concern that would include of greatest conservation need.” In iden- at-risk species not yet iden- tifying these species, the intent was not tiﬁed by other conservation to deﬁne a new “ofﬁcial” status like the efforts. States identiﬁed Little Fishing Creek freshwater mussel distribution survey/NCWRC Endangered Species list. Instead, the goal wildlife of greatest conservation need was to identify the wildlife species that based on a variety of criteria: if a spe- need proactive attention in order to avoid cies had low populations, or had already additional formal protections. been formally identiﬁed as a conservation Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 13 priority, or showed other signs of In Action: Identifying North Dakota’s “North Dakota’s imminent decline, it was ﬂagged for Species of Greatest Conservation Need wildlife action plan attention. Some states, such as Montana, does a good job of Alabama and Virginia, opted for a tiered The North Dakota wildlife action plan highlighting the approach, prioritizing their state’s identiﬁes 100 species in need of conser- wildlife of concern in two or more vation including birds, mammals, reptiles, important systems, levels of concern or priority. amphibians, ﬁsh and freshwater mussels. like native grass- The list was developed with expert input lands and wetlands, Because each state developed a different ranging from federal and state agency that are critical to approach, the wildlife identiﬁed as staff to non-governmental organizations, maintaining healthy species of conservation need vary tribes and private citizens. The species signiﬁcantly. For example, the South were initially categorized by degrees of populations of a Carolina action plan identiﬁes more than rarity, geographic range, and breeding myriad of species 1,200 species in need of conservation, status of species. However, fewer of wildlife for while the North Dakota wildlife action categories more accurately represented future generations plan identiﬁes 100. There are also the level of knowledge of a broad of North Dakotans. differences that reﬂect special state-based range of species and facilitated those considerations, such as including marine species being placed in order of priority. I am hopeful this wildlife in coastal regions or urban Several species included on the list are plan will generate wildlife in heavily populated areas. considered common in North Dakota, a diverse suite of or, at least, not declining. These species partners who can In Action: Identifying South Carolina’s were included because of the state’s focus their efforts Species of Greatest Conservation Need importance as a last stronghold for that particular population, or because of their on protecting these The South Carolina action plan identiﬁes contribution to species diversity in North critical components more than 1,200 species in need of Dakota. North Dakota has a long-term of North Dakota’s conservation. South Carolina formed stewardship role for these species, even natural heritage.” groups of experts on birds, mammals, if there is no immediate need for conser- – Scott Stevens, Ducks reptiles, amphibians, ﬁsh, and inverte- vation there. For example, the American Unlimited, Bismarck, brates who shared knowledge to help white pelican is found in great numbers North Dakota build a list of wildlife meeting criteria in North Dakota, but is designated as for conservation. The species on the list vulnerable, imperiled, or critically include species that are rare or at-risk, imperiled in 27 states and provinces. those about which scientists have in- sufﬁcient knowledge, and Identifying Habitat those that have not received adequate conservation for Wildlife attention in the past. The list also includes As a critical ﬁrst step in conserving wild- “responsibility” and life, scientists must identify the lands and “indicator” species. The waters that species need in order to sur- Carolina pygmy sunﬁsh vive. Identifying, locating, and describing appears on the list as a re- habitat for wildlife is complex. Biologists sponsibility species because must look at an animal’s habitat needs the ﬁsh exists almost entirely for each day, season, and over the course Oystercatcher/South Carolina DNR in this state. If it disappears of their lives. For example, long-eared here, it will likely become extinct. Fid- owls nest and roost in woody draws, but dler crabs are an indicator species of the they forage in grasslands and thus require health of aquatic systems. Crabs accumu- both kinds of habitats. What do marine late toxins and serve as a warning sign for mammals need for food, for resting, for the health of aquatic systems. breeding areas and seasonal needs? How about ﬁsh like salmon that spawn in 14 State Wildlife Action Plans streams and swim to the sea? Or eels that In Action: Deﬁning Essential Habitats do the opposite, spawning in oceans and for Virginia’s Imperiled Wildlife “It comes down to swimming up rivers? habitats. You cannot To identify both aquatic and terrestrial build conservation Habitats are interdependent and each habitats for the wildlife action plan, species by species. will affect and be affected by others, Virginia created the Habitat Afﬁnity Da- The task is too big. especially those geographically adjacent tabase, which matches species with their to each other. Additionally, most species required habitat features. Using these Habitat is the move freely across habitats and are de- relationships, the habitats for each of the common ground pendent upon a diversity of resources for most imperiled species were mapped for biologists, land life. The concept within the action plans where possible. This process involved managers, agencies is that by taking actions that sustain the an exhaustive review of the literature, and the public to health and integrity of the habitats, the coordination with experts, and min- broad array of wildlife that lives within ing of species observation databases to work together to each will be conserved and maintained. identify essential habitat and to deﬁne conserve wildlife.” distributions. Then the necessary spatial – Dennis Figg, Wildlife While many of our great wildlife restora- data were assembled to create maps of Programs Supervisor, tion efforts have restored one species at a where these habitats occur within each Missouri Department time, today it is not practical or effective species’ known range in Virginia. Spatial of Conservation to take a species-by-species approach data included a series of terrestrial habitat as our country experiences widespread factors such as land cover, distance from loss and fragmentation of natural land- water, and topography. The aquatic habi- scapes. In many of the wildlife action tat classiﬁcation grouped streams into plans, states used a habitat or ecoregion different classes depending on the region approach to arrange wildlife species into in which they are located, their size, meaningful and manageable groups. the geology underlying the stream, the These groups were typically identiﬁed by elevation of the stream, and the stream’s large-scale vegetation or geographical as- biological community. These processes sociations across each state for terrestrial, involved the use of sophisticated freshwater and marine ecosystems. Geographic Information Systems soft- ware and techniques. Tennessee River Watershed mussels/VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 15 In Action: Identifying Priority Habitats why wildlife are at risk, we can decide “For the ﬁrst time, for Mississippi’s Wildlife on action steps that will effectively and Illinois has a road efﬁciently prevent them from becoming map for where Mississippi approached its habitat classiﬁ- endangered. wildlife and habitat cation based on different planning needs in their wildlife action plan. They used A wide variety of factors contribute to the conservation wants the Bailey/US Forest Service Ecological decline of wildlife. The lands and wa- to go! That is an Units as modiﬁed in 1998 by The Nature ters that provide habitat for wildlife can incredible tool Conservancy for larger scale planning be destroyed, fragmented, or altered by that anyone and efforts. These ecoregions are widely ac- development, roads, and resource extrac- everyone can ﬁnd cepted within the ecological community tion. The elimination of natural cycles like and have a close association with other ﬁre and ﬂooding can also change habitats a piece to take planning efforts such as the Partners in and reduce their value for wildlife. Non- ownership of, and Flight regional plans. In order to associ- native, invasive plants and animals can do the work that ate species of greatest conservation need compete with native species for habitat will make a real with their habitats, Mississippi combined and food. Contaminants can degrade the difference.” the Ecological Communities List from the quality of habitat and directly harm ani- – Jeff Walk, author of Illinois’ state Natural Heritage Program into a list mals. Human actions can directly disturb Wildlife Action Plan, of core habitat types and subtypes. The or injure animals, both intentionally and Illinois Department of habitat types and subtypes were used accidentally. Natural Resources to identify threats and actions to abate the threats. In addition to the breadth of issues facing wildlife, the speciﬁc challenges can vary greatly from state to state. An animal Identifying Challenges to threatened in one part of the country by Wildlife and their Habitats habitat loss can be subject to competition with invasive species in another state. Effective conservation depends on an as- sessment of the speciﬁc issues, challeng- To lay groundwork for practical, effective es, and problems that are contributing conservation actions, the state wildlife to declines in wildlife and their habitat. action plans undertook an exhaustive Once we have identiﬁed the reasons assessment of the threats affecting species Red-eared slider/USFWS, Gary M. Stolz 16 State Wildlife Action Plans and habitats. By consulting with experts, In Action: Assessing Stresses to Illinois’ reviewing existing research, and conduct- Wildlife and Habitats ing new ﬁeld studies, states investigated the speciﬁc issues driving wildlife into In assessing the stresses on Illinois’ wild- decline. The impact of these threats life and habitats, the Illinois Department were evaluated at many different scales of Natural Resources reviewed published including species, habitats, ecoregions or literature and consulted with experts. basins, and statewide. The challenges for spe- cies and habitats were In Action: Identifying New York’s State- assessed at the level wide Threats to Habitats and Species of habitat, community, population, and direct As a core step in setting their conser- human-caused stresses. vation priorities, the New York State Experts convened by Department of Environmental Conserva- the DNR ranked stresses tion looked at the array of threats to that according to their effect state’s wildlife and habitats. The magni- on a species’ or habitat’s tude of each threat was assessed based viability or abundance. on species life history traits, population trends, habitat type and location, and The Illinois wildlife other key factors. After identifying threats action plan’s assessment for individual species and habitats, the of the challenges facing Department of Environmental Conser- the state’s forest habitats vation’s planning team evaluated the illustrates the complexity highest magnitude threats to New York’s of the issues facing this wildlife at the statewide level: important habitat type. While the amount • Habitat loss, fragmentation, and disrup- of forest has been tion of natural functions increasing in Illinois over most of the last • Degraded water quality, acid rain, and century, the exclusion of alteration of natural river and stream natural ﬁres, the spread hydrology of invasive plants and Wildﬂowers/Illinois DNR disease, and poor timber • Invasive exotic plants and animals harvest practices have resulted in forest structure and composition that is very dif- • Incompatible forest management and ferent from what the state’s native wildlife agricultural practices depend on for survival. In addition, the state’s forests are highly fragmented by • Direct human-wildlife conﬂicts, includ- development and infrastructure. By look- ing vehicle collisions and illegal harvest ing at the full spectrum of issues facing this important habitat type, the Illinois • Climate change affects on the distribu- wildlife action plan identiﬁes the man- tion of plants and animals and small or agement and restoration interventions isolated populations and the potential that are needed to improve the condition impacts of severe weather patterns. of the forests for the state’s wildlife. Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 17 Targeting Action at In Action: Cooperative Conservation for New Hampshire’s Blanding’s Turtles Key Challenges New Hampshire’s Appalachian Oak Pine The heart of the wildlife forest habitat is undergoing a high rate action plans is the identiﬁca- of loss due to development. Those forests tion of the action steps that include freshwater marshes that are home are needed to recover and to the Blanding’s turtle, identiﬁed by New conserve imperiled wildlife Hampshire’s wildlife action plan as a spe- by protecting their habitat cies of conservation need. The Blanding’s and addressing other press- turtle is declining in numbers, due to high ing conservation issues. mortality from collisions with automo- Many prior conservation biles and lack of suitable nesting habitat. planning efforts have con- The state wildlife action plan calls for ducted assessments—iden- innovative private and public partnerships tifying critical conservation to strategically conserve the refuge and needs or describing pressing movement corridors that are essential for challenges—but they have the Blanding turtle’s conservation: stopped there. The wildlife action plans take the process • Incorporate habitat conservation into one step farther and actually land use planning, including advising identify the actions that need conservation commissions and planning to be taken to address those boards, and working with regional plan- problems and keep wildlife ning agencies to conserve large blocks of Oak Barrens Habitat, Juneau Co., WI/Armund Bartz healthy. Because they draw unfragmented habitat. on a wide range of past efforts and new “We can really do input, the action plans also provide a Develop tools for habitat conservation more for sensitive statewide, strategic picture of how differ- • through existing programs, such as species conserva- ent projects and activities can ﬁt together. the Landowner Incentive Program, tion by working Land and Community Heritage Invest- The actions identiﬁed in the wildlife proactively through ment Program. action plans are built on a foundation of farmers and cooperative conservation that emphasizes Supply habitat maps to towns that have ranchers than we the importance of species and habitat • passed open space bonds to assist local can through the health and prevention of problems rather decision makers with land purchases that federal listing of than regulatory ﬁxes or top-down man- will conserve the Blanding’s turtle and sensitive species. dates. There are often many different other declining wildlife and provide for actions that we can take to address the The Utah Division of challenges facing species and habitats. nature-based recreation. Wildlife Resources By working closely with stakeholders In Action: Restoring Wisconsin’s Oak & Utah Farm Bureau and local communities, wildlife agencies Savanna Federation share were able to identify practical and the same goal appropriate conservation actions that Fewer than 500 acres of intact oak will work in each state. of making it savanna remain in Wisconsin. These unnecessary to oak openings are home to red-headed The actions recommended by states have woodpeckers, ornate box turtles, wood- federally list species similar and important themes like re- land voles and a host of other wildlife as endangered or search, species management, education, identiﬁed in the action plan as species threatened in Utah.” habitat restoration, and land conserva- of greatest conservation need. The action – Mark Petersen, Utah Farm tion. What also emerged from the action plan helps the state prioritize restoration Bureau Federation plans are similar tools applied differently, efforts by locating oak savanna that have depending on each state’s needs. major opportunities for restoration and by 18 State Wildlife Action Plans identifying species of greatest conserva- In Action: Putting Prairies Back into tion need that have a signiﬁcant associa- Oklahoma’s Landscape tion with the habitat. Historically, natural ﬁres in eastern Bringing back the savanna will require Oklahoma created open woodlands and considerable effort in order to focus on prairies that supported the red-headed restorable sites and to hone restoration woodpecker, prairie warbler, brown- techniques. Education is also important headed nuthatch, Bachman’s sparrow, to success; the action plan recommends prairie butterﬂies and reptiles. Without setting up education demonstration areas ﬁre, forests have grown dense and shady to give people a ﬁrst-hand look at the and prairies are overgrown. Consequently, kinds of active management it will take to these species are declining. restore the savanna, includ- ing the rejuvenating force of prescribed ﬁres. In Action: Strategies to Prevent and Control Invasive Species in the Great Lakes Region Michigan’s wildlife action plan identiﬁes preventing and controlling invasive species as a high priority. Today, more than 200 invasive species are in the Great Lakes basin, making invasive species one of the greatest threats to Michigan’s lands, waters and wildlife. Control efforts and monitoring for one problem species alone, zebra mussels, Yellowlegs/Oklahoma DWC may cost millions over the next ten years. The state’s wildlife action plan sets the The wildlife action plan outlines what is stage for using controlled burns to needed to stave off new invasive species restore the prairies and open woodlands, from gaining entry into the Great Lakes which will reverse wildlife declines. The region, including: action plan recommends using prescribed burning in a way that is feasible, safe, • Develop and apply invasive species and economically viable to restore monitoring and inspection systems for native prairies. private aquaculture, the bait industry, the ornamental ﬁsh and plant industries, In Action: North Carolina’s Landowners the shipping industry, and recreational and Partners Team Up for Bog Turtle boaters. Conservation • Coordinate efforts between agencies, Almost half of the nation’s wetlands lie non-governmental organizations, busi- in the Southeast, and in North Carolina nesses and individuals to develop a they add up to close to a ﬁfth of the state. response strategy to contain and prevent However, more than half of the state’s establishment of newly introduced original wetlands are gone—drained and invasive species. converted for other uses. Wetlands are Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 19 vital to the survival of a majority of the Alabama’s wildlife action plan spells “The ancient state’s rare wildlife and are important to out what is needed for longleaf pine longleaf forest everyone for absorbing ﬂood waters and communities, including the restoration presented a vista protecting water of longleaf pine on of great beauty quality. The North state-owned lands Carolina wildlife and coordination matched by few action plan ranks with local and in the world.” wetlands such as federal agencies to – John Powers, biologist, mountain bogs as conserve additional Alabama Department of priority habitats large tracts of long- Conservation and for conservation leaf pine forests. Natural Resources action, and it ranks By working with Common Murre/USFWS, R. Rohleder the rare bog turtle partners like the as high on the list for conservation atten- US Forest Service, local land trusts, and tion. To conserve and restore mountain The Nature Conservancy, the state will bogs that support the bog turtle, speciﬁc conserve and restore these high priority strategies in the action plan include: tracts, conserving habitat for hundreds of important wildlife species. • Engage in voluntary cooperative agree- ments with landowners to keep wetlands In Action: Protecting Alaska’s Bird intact. Nesting Islands from Invasive Predators • Coordinate with the North Carolina Invasive species are negatively impacting Department of Transportation to con- Alaska’s island-nesting birds. Wherever serve mountain bogs when planning new ships have landed and stowaway Norway roads. rats have escaped, they have become predators of eggs, young birds, and even • Join with partners to search for wet- adult birds that Alaska’s state wildlife lands that still support the bog turtle and action plan names as species of greatest other rare wildlife. conservation need, such as the common murre, black-legged kittiwake, least and In Action: Conserving Alabama’s Long- crested auklets, and storm-petrels. leaf Pine Forests The Alaska wildlife action plan outlines Longleaf pine forests are considered one proactive measures to prevent Norway of the most endangered habitats in the rats from infesting islands through rigor- country. Alabama’s wildlife action plan ous “rat-spill” procedures for shipwrecks, identiﬁes longleaf pine education of ship crews and removal of conservation as one of its rats that arrive at harbors, warehouses, statewide priorities—with and other points of entry. The action plan 31 species of greatest further addresses conservation actions conservation need and 34 within bird nesting islands to monitor kinds of wildlife on an ad- islands where invasive predators have ditional watch list associ- been removed to detect if the birds have ated with the habitat. That started nesting successfully again. The ac- list includes species like tions will help prevent these species from the ﬂatwoods salamander, undergoing additional declines that could Flatwoods salamander/Pierson Hill the eastern indigo snake, lead to these birds becoming endangered. mimic glass lizard, Raﬁnesque’s big- eared bat, as well as game species like the northern bobwhite and eastern wild turkey. 20 State Wildlife Action Plans In Action: Pika Alert: Tracking Climate Change in Nevada Since the 1990s, this engaging denizen of the mountain peaks has disappeared from nine of 25 research sites in the moun- tains of Nevada, California and Oregon, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey study. The pika may be one of the ﬁrst U.S. mammals to be impacted by global warming. Unlike other species that live at lower elevations, the pika cannot move higher to ﬁnd cooler grounds that ﬁt its needs because its home already lies at high elevations. The pika depends on insulating snows to survive the winter in its den, and in summer, it retreats to the rocks to stay cool. Without enough snow cover, the pika freezes in the winter, and if the rocks become too hot in summer, the pika succumbs to heat. Tracking the long-term responses of the pika to global climate change is listed as a high priority research need in Nevada’s Wildlife Action Plan, which also calls for assessments of the effects of increased access and recreation on alpine and Mountain stream/Carl Heilman tundra vegetation and wildlife species. Montana’s wildlife action plan lists prairie In Action: Montana: New Information streams as a community type of great- Leads to Proactive Steps est conservation need. Armed with new knowledge of the rich wildlife present Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologists in these little-known streams, the action surveyed thousands of miles of prairie plan identiﬁes proactive conservation streams that had never been surveyed steps with the support of public and for ﬁsh. Crews explored the seemingly private partners. For example, to pre- ﬁshless streams and discovered close vent diverting and dewatering streams, to 40,000 individual ﬁsh, with up to 10 the recommended action is to apply different species at the average site. Most water conservation or ﬂow manage- were minnows or small ﬁsh such as the ment practices that will restore essential brook stickleback, goldeye, emerald habitats. To make sure ranchers continue shiner, shorthead redhorse and sand to have needed water for livestock dur- shiner. The crew found a total of 48 ing drought, the strategy is to increase species during the summer and 30 were stockwater wells in place of irrigation native to Montana. ditches. Sometimes, fairly simple changes in practices can make the key difference for wildlife survival. Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 21 “Like the resource it seeks Measuring Success to protect, wild- T he wildlife action plans begin action plans describe how each state life conservation with an assessment of the will monitor the status of wildlife and the must be dynamic, issues facing each state’s wild- effects of conservation actions. By col- life and then identify the full lecting and analyzing information on the changing as range of actions that are needed to pre- status of wildlife and the lands and waters conditions vent them from becoming endangered. they need to survive, we can determine if The success of this approach hinges our management actions are having the change, seeking on taking one more step: evaluation. desired effects and what, if any, adjust- always to Once we have implemented a project to ments are needed to improve outcomes. reintroduce sturgeon to a river system, become more protect an important parcel of habitat for Wildlife monitoring activities range effective.” bobcats, or restore a degraded freshwater from the long-term collection of data to – Rachel Carson marsh ecosystem, how do we know if our establish large-scale population trends, actions have had the desired effects? Are to focused investigations into the cause- the projects and programs we are under- and-effect results of speciﬁc management taking translating into beneﬁts for target- actions. Monitoring is also about keep- ed ﬁsh and wildlife? Are we using limited ing track of the activities, programs, and resources efﬁciently and effectively? Are projects that each state is undertaking. we ultimately succeeding in preventing Taken as a whole, the wildlife action wildlife from becoming endangered? plans embody a new, strategic approach To answer these questions, the wildlife to measuring conservation outcomes. Pallid sturgeon/Louisiana DWF 22 State Wildlife Action Plans Adaptive Management: mentation of their Wildlife Action Plan, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Learning by Doing will link several existing databases with new systems speciﬁcally focused on There are many uncertainties in conserv- Wildlife Action Plan priorities. These ing and managing wildlife. While we databases include several pre-existing know a lot about some animals and their individual species databases, the Utah habitats, we lack a complete understand- Natural Heritage Program’s rare spe- ing of the issues and solutions that are cies occurrence database, and a habitat needed for every species and habitat. monitoring database. All of these systems This is especially true when it comes to will be uniﬁed under an umbrella of a the state wildlife action plans. Because new master database that provides uni- the action plans are focused on wildlife form codes to link species, habitat, and species that have received very little prior conservation action information together. conservation attention, they identify thousands of species about which we have very little information. Similarly, we lack basic information on where some critical habitats occur and how these complex systems function. In the face of incomplete information, the state wildlife action plans offer an adap- tive management approach to conservation. This ap- proach views conservation as a process of implementing conservation actions as prac- tical experiments to test what we know about wildlife and habitats. By evaluating the outcomes of our actions, we Trumpeter Swan/Wyoming GFD can revise and improve our Through these links, database users will original conservation approaches in order be able to identify threats, proposed con- to improve future outcomes. By work- servation actions, implemented actions, ing adaptively, we can still take action to and, ultimately, the response of species conserve declining wildlife in the face of and habitats identiﬁed as priorities in the uncertainty. The more action we take, the Utah Wildlife Action Plan. more we improve our understanding of how we can ultimately bring about even better outcomes for ﬁsh and wildlife. Working Together In Action: Unifying Information to Collecting information and tracking Measure Outcomes in Utah the results of conservation projects and programs can be expensive and resource- Managing information on wildlife and intensive. Even monitoring the needs habitat condition and status is a core of a few species in a small project can challenge to effectively measuring con- require a substantial investment of time servation outcomes. To support the imple- and energy. Undertaking this effort for Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 23 thousands of species across entire states In Action: Partnerships to Meet could quickly overwhelm any one agency Monitoring Needs in Wisconsin that is working alone. Although the Wisconsin Department Instead of proposing extensive, inde- of Natural Resources has the primary pendent new monitoring programs, responsibility for managing and monitor- the wildlife action plans place a strong ing the state’s wildlife and other natural emphasis on partnerships. By working resources, the job is too big to manage together, across state boundaries and with alone. Therefore, the WDNR is work- federal agencies, nongovernmental orga- ing with its many local, state and federal nizations, and the private sector, we can partners to tackle the monitoring of conduct monitoring initiatives and build species of greatest conservation need and consistent and coordinated monitoring their habitats. programs that will be use- ful at multiple scales and for The WDNR is already taking some multiple purposes. For rare, actions in working with partners on wide-ranging wildlife that improving monitoring efforts in the state. do not recognize political The Wisconsin EcoAtlas is a web-based, boundaries, multi-state and searchable system that compiles exist- regional monitoring efforts ing inventory, monitoring and research may be vital to ensuring con- projects from around the state with the servation success. Standard- goal of helping scientists and manag- izing protocols and measures ers identify where work is already being and improving data sharing done. It can link the partner with existing among state agencies, federal databases of information on biological agencies, and nongovern- diversity such as the Natural Heritage mental organizations will Inventory Portal and the Aquatic and improve our collective ability Terrestrial Resource Inventory. Another to compare the effectiveness ongoing effort is focusing on obtaining in- of strategies and programs. put from partners on improving the coor- dination of natural resources monitoring. In Action: Citizen Scientists The ﬁrst step was the Wisconsin Resource Play a Vital Role in Moni- Monitoring Summit. The Summit brought toring Wildlife Diversity in together individuals from sixteen local, Washington state, regional and federal organizations to share information about monitoring Washington’s wildlife action programs and identify issues related to plan proposes developing a various elements of a monitoring pro- Puget blue butterﬂy/Kelly McAllister, WA DFW Biodiversity Index to track gram. A set of recommended actions long-term changes in wildlife and their and next steps from the Summit will help habitats. The scientiﬁcally developed WDNR move forward with a coordinated index will focus on the action plan’s spe- framework for monitoring the state’s natu- cies of greatest conservation need, prior- ral resources. ity habitats and ecoregions. To help carry out the massive task of collecting this information, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife proposes a program of volunteer citizen scientists. The beneﬁt of involving citizens is two-fold: it is cost- effective and it involves people in helping wildlife, which in turn builds conserva- tion understanding and support. 24 State Wildlife Action Plans “It is just Taking Action unbelievable to see the results that The wildlife action plans are already initiative to restore habitat for birds of the Rich County being implemented both by state wildlife greatest conservation need, including Coordinated Re- agencies and their partners, including the Henslow’s sparrow. State biologists source Management federal, state, and local governments, and mine regulators are teaming up to group (a landowner/ conservation groups, private landowners, locate active surface mines that can be and a variety of other individuals reclaimed in grass instead of trees. Since government part- and organizations with an interest in 90 percent of the state’s grasslands are nership) has had in wildlife. States are working with partners in private ownership, conserving and Rich County. I have to develop shared priorities based on restoring these habitats takes the kind seen landowners their wildlife action plans, and to adjust of strategic partnerships that are the who would not give the wildlife action plans to local and hallmark of the state’s action plan. regional scales. Implementation actions the time of day to address problems or threats to habitats In Action: Restoring Sagebrush [government and species by creating partnerships, Communities in Utah agencies] say, ‘well, restoring habitats, monitoring species, what can we do for and ﬁlling in data gaps. States developed Shrubsteppe, which includes sagebrush, wildlife?’ and on a variety of approaches to taking action is a high priority for habitat conservation based on the issues they identiﬁed in the Utah Wildlife Action Plan. Wildlife the other side, and the circumstances of each state. species of conservation need that depend the government Implementation projects are built on a on sagebrush include Greater Sage- agencies have said, foundation of cooperative conservation grouse, Gunnison’s Sage-grouse, Brewer’s ‘well, these are the that emphasizes the importance of Sparrow, Sage Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, beneﬁts that will species and habitat health and the and Pygmy Rabbit. Fire suppression and come to livestock prevention of problems, rather than invasive species, such as cheatgrass, have regulatory ﬁxes or top-down mandates. impacted the health of sagebrush com- [through habitat munities by altering the work to help Action Plans as a Common Platform for Action natural shrubsteppe plant wildlife].’” composition. These fac- – Bill Hopkin, Former Desert The wildlife action plan provides a common platform tors have also decreased Land and Livestock for action and can be a tool for partners to use to develop forage quality for cattle, Ranch Manager projects based on shared priorities. Now, all those in- which is an important terested in wildlife can work toward the same goals and component of Utah’s move from opportunistic conservation to coordinated, rural economy. strategic conservation. Utah’s Wildlife Action Plan pro- vides new information pinpointing In Action: Pennsylvania: Restoring the sagebrush areas in greatest Mining Sites Revives Grassland Wildlife need of restoration and a better understanding of the intricacies of In the mining country of western its wildlife inhabitants. The Utah Pennsylvania, reclaimed strip mines will Division of Wildlife Resources offer hope for the return of declining and its partners are taking action Sage grouse/USFWS, Dave Menke grassland birds that in turn attract avid to rejuvenate sagebrush communities to birdwatchers to spend money in rural support native species and Utah’s econo- areas. Pennsylvania’s wildlife action plan my. Reintroducing ﬁre is not often an op- calls for a grassland mining reclamation tion, because high temperatures in thick Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 25 stands of trees and old sagebrush would In Action: Working Together to Restore kill native seeds in the top soil layer. the American Eel in New York Instead, land managers are using heavy equipment to remove non-native plants, The wildlife action plans are helping rejuvenate sagebrush stands, and states improve coordination both beyond their borders and within their states. In New York, as a result of the development Taking Action with Public Lands Partners of the wildlife action plan, the biolo- gists in different ﬁelds are now working Many western states have signiﬁcant federal land ownership—National together to restore the American eel. The Forests, Bureau of Land Management, National Parks, National Wildlife American eel is an unusual species that Refuges, military bases and more. Public lands compose 83 percent of breeds in the ocean and matures in fresh- Nevada and 62 percent of Idaho. State wildlife action plans for these water. The eel is a declining and impor- states emphasize coordination among public land managers and state tant species for commercial ﬁsheries, as wildlife agencies for the beneﬁt of the wildlife resource. well as within ocean and freshwater food webs. Before the state wildlife action In regions like the Southeast where public lands are few, the national plan, freshwater biologists studied eels forests, national parks and national wildlife refuges are critical sanctuaries along the St. Lawrence River and marine for wildlife diversity. They also serve a growing number of outdoor biologists followed the eels in the Hud- recreationists. The U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, son and Long Island bay area. As a result National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have demon- of the planning process, the biologists strated their commitment to the action plans—both in helping develop are now working together to develop a them and supporting efforts to enact the strategies in every state. statewide conservation strategy to restore the American eel. reseed native grasses and In Action: Teaming Up to Clean forbs. In addition, grazing Missouri’s Waters practices are being altered to maintain Missouri’s wildlife action plan identiﬁes quality shrubsteppe Tumbling Creek Cave Ecosystem as one habitat. Using Utah’s of its Conservation Opportunity Areas wildlife action plan —landscapes where conservation to carry out sagebrush actions will result in healthy habitats. restoration to improve Each conservation area has its own team ecosystem health has the of partners who drafted the proﬁle and enthusiastic endorsement the resulting conservation tools. of landowners, conservationists, and local com- The Quest for Knowledge to Take Action munities. During the development of the wildlife action plans, states identiﬁed information gaps on species and habitat distribution, status and trends along with other conservation needs. Filling data gaps is an important step in carrying out the wildlife action plans. Some gap analyses may identify a need for an appropriate future conservation action, while others may identify current limitations of Otter Release/Utah DWR time and resources. 26 State Wildlife Action Plans Tumbling Creek Cave offers an excellent outdoor classroom/community space that example of the solutions we can expect will help local residents better understand “The future of across the state in Conservation Opportu- the connections between surface and three-quarters nity Areas. Here, groundwater and cave subsurface ecosystems in this important of Georgia’s conservation go hand in hand. Recent cave. The outdoor classroom vision ﬁts woodlands rests studies revealed that 88 percent of the within a larger strategy to expand envi- in the hands of ronmental education pro- grams. Rather than taking private non-indus- Working Across Boundaries a regulatory approach to trial landowners. mandate cleaner water, As development Wildlife knows no boundaries and often the quest to the solution is coop- conserve wildlife requires working across ownership spreads throughout erative and beneﬁcial to lines of public and private lands, as well as state and the state, it is people and wildlife alike. international borders. Neotropical migratory birds—from critical to help scarlet tanagers to Arctic terns—nest in the U.S. and In Action: Bringing Back private landowners winter south of the border. Salmon in the Paciﬁc North- Oklahoma’s Grassland conserve adequate, west swim from the ocean up the Columbia River to spawning streams as far away as Idaho. Elk, bighorn Wildlife healthy forests for sheep, and mule deer in the Rocky Mountain states all of our wildlife If a grassland looks like descend from higher elevation National Forest lands to a grassland is it always and for the citizens spend winters in the mild foothills. suitable for wildlife? The of this state who answer might be no—if cherish their the grasses are not native. natural lands so Mark Twain school’s sewage lagoon was That is why the Texas horned lizard, the much. That’s why we leaking into the groundwater that feeds mountain plover, and other grassland Tumbling Creek Cave—the most biologi- species in trouble. In western Oklahoma, took an active role cally diverse cave west of the Mississippi the Conservation Reserve Program has in helping develop River and home to at least six animals played a tremendous role in preventing the Wildlife recently discovered by science, such as soil erosion by taking the most sensi- Action Plan.” the Tumbling Creek Cavesnail—the only tive lands out of production. Farmers are – Steve McWilliams, known location in the world for this compensated for not farming the lands. Georgia Forestry Association endangered species. However, those lands traditionally were Executive Vice President planted with exotic grasses. Oklahoma’s With the aid of State Wildlife Grants, wildlife action plan proposes to replant local residents have come together to im- those lands with native grasses and bring prove the sewage treatment system for the back native wildlife. school. The next step will be to create an Prairie dogs/Oklahoma DWC Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 27 In Action: Wildlife Workshops for In Action: Where the rubber meets the “When wildlife Georgia’s Private Landowners road—new partnership with Vermont’s conservation is highway department integrated with Offering guidance to private landown- transportation ers to manage rare wildlife and sensitive Wildlife is literally on a collision course habitats on their properties emerged as with the automobile. Vermont’s road sys- planning, wild- one of the top priorities in the Georgia tem grew by more than 14,000 miles over life, motorists and wildlife action plan. The Georgia Depart- the past 25 years and the number of ve- taxpayers all win. ment of Natural Resources worked with a hicle miles traveled by Vermont residents Roads and wildlife variety of stakeholders including private is growing at seven times the population are safer, mainte- forestland owners and managers through- growth. Now, thanks to a partnership that out the state to develop the plan, and the has blossomed from the state wildlife ac- nance costs may agency strengthened its participation in tion planning effort, the Vermont Fish and be reduced, and the Georgia Sustainable Forestry Initia- Wildlife Department and the Vermont projects speed tive Implementation Committee. Through Agency of Transportation (VTrans) have through the that committee, Georgia DNR is putting formed a wildlife steering committee to permitting and its action plan on the ground by offering pinpoint wildlife travel corridors. They wildlife workshops and technical guid- are planning for wildlife underpasses and regulatory process.” ance for foresters, timber harvesters and overpasses at key road crossings that will – Gina Campoli, private landowners. cut down on mortality for black bear, Environmental Policy bobcat and amphibians. The committee Manager, VTrans also steers highway development away from important habitats and corridors. Taking Action to Help Private Landowners State Wildlife Grants are helping fund improved culvert designs to allow ﬁsh Private landowners play a vital role in conserving passage—good news for lamprey and habitats that support wildlife that are at risk of becoming brook trout. endangered. Action plan tools emphasize incentives and other positive approaches that foster cooperation across public and private boundaries. States with high levels of private land ownership and few public lands strongly emphasize the role of private lands in their action plans, as well as the need to conserve key wildlife habitats that are not yet conserved. Culvert assessment/C. Alexander 28 State Wildlife Action Plans “The nation behaves Carrying on the Legacy well if it treats the A Call to Action natural resources as assets which it We now have the guidance we have develop plans to carry out the actions. must turn over to long sought as a nation to make sure our The cooperation, collaboration and the next generation wildlife conservation efforts are efﬁcient goodwill that are the stamp of every increased and not and directed to the habitats, wildlife and action plan also offer hope for positive impaired in value.” actions of highest need. The wildlife solutions to balance growth and wildlife – Theodore Roosevelt action plans are the result of unprec- conservation. The action plans are full of edented cooperation. It is critical that the examples of such solutions, and they give plans not sit on a shelf. The action plans a strong indication of what we can expect collectively outline a national effort—we ahead of us. Our country is poised to need to adequately fund them and to follow a plan in every state so that we provide resources and commitments from can keep wildlife from declining to the partners to make them a reality. brink of extinction. We know that once wildlife has slipped to dangerously low Our nation has risen to the challenge to numbers, it is much more difﬁcult and conserve our wildlife in great times of more costly to recover the species. Louisiana Pine Snake/Louisiana DWF need. When our game species were in peril- ous straits, our country State Wildlife Grants Increases Capacity of States to Conserve rallied to pass the 1937 Wildlife Diversity Wildlife Restoration Act. We pulled together State Wildlife Grants have signiﬁcantly increased the capacity of states to keep again to conserve our wildlife from becoming endangered. Prior to State Wildlife Grants, in 1992 ﬁsheries in 1950 for the Montana had a wildlife diversity budget of $130,000. In 2005, State Wildlife Grants Sport Fish Restoration alone provided more than $1 million to Montana’s wildlife diversity program. Act. When we saw wild- Alabama increased its wildlife diversity budget from $462,000 in 1998 to more life faced with extinc- than $2.5 million in 2004. The great majority of this was derived from State Wildlife tion we passed the 1973 Grants. While State Wildlife Grants have helped states make huge strides in wildlife Endangered Species Act. diversity there is much more to be done. All states and territories have a great need Most recently, Congress for more funding to keep our wildlife populations healthy. approved the 2000 State Wildlife Grants program to promote a more comprehensive Carrying out state wildlife action plans approach to wildlife conservation. Today, will conserve wildlife and vital natural we stand at another juncture where places, protecting clean water and air acting now to fund the action plans that are essential to our health, bringing requested by Congress will demonstrate peace and relaxation to our busy lives, our generation’s commitment to keep and ensuring that nature continues to wildlife from becoming endangered. play a part of our important family traditions. As our communities grow, we We have a clear strategy to prevent will depend on the actions in the plans Camp Marydale joins the Natural Areas wildlife from falling through the cracks, to fulﬁll our responsibility for the next Registry Program/Louisiana DWF by taking actions to restore the lands and generation to safeguard our precious waters that all wildlife depends on. State birds, ﬁsh, mammals and other wildlife wildlife agencies will lead the way— before they become more rare and more working closely with the individuals, costly to conserve. organizations and agencies that helped Working Together to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered 29 Teaming with Wildlife State Agency Contacts Teaming with Wildlife is a national coalition of more Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks than 3,500 organizations (334) 242-3849, www.conservation.alabama.gov (406) 444-3186, www.fwp.mt.gov working together to Alaska Department of Fish & Game Nebraska Game & Parks Commission (907) 465-614, www.adfg.state.ak.us (402) 471-5539, www.ngpc.state.ne.us/default.asp prevent wildlife from becoming endangered Arizona Game & Fish Department Nevada Department of Wildlife (602) 789-3278, www.azgfd.com (775) 688-1599, www.ndow.org by supporting increased Arkansas Game & Fish Commission New Hampshire Fish & Game Department state and federal funding (501) 223-6305, www.agfc.com (603) 271-3422, www.wildlife.state.nh.us for wildlife conservation, California Department of Fish & Game New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife outdoor recreation and (916) 653-7667, www.dfg.ca.gov (609) 292-9410, www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw conservation education Colorado Division of Wildlife New Mexico Game & Fish Department in every state. This (303) 291-7208, www.wildlife.state.co.us (505) 476-8008, www.wildlife.state.nm.us coalition includes wildlife Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (860) 424-3010, www.dep.state.ct.us/burnatr (518) 402-8924, www.dec.state.ny.us biologists, state wildlife agencies, conservationists, Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (302) 739-9910, www.dnrec.state.de.us/fw (919) 707-0010, www.ncwildlife.org hunters, anglers, bird- District of Columbia Natural Resources Division North Dakota Game & Fish Department watchers, businesses, and Fisheries & Wildlife Branch (701) 328-6305, www.gf.nd.gov many others who support (202) 535-2273, www.dchealth.com/dcﬁshandwildlife Ohio Division of Wildlife the goal of restoring and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (614) 265-6304, www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/default.htm (850) 488-2975, www.MyFWC.com conserving our nation’s Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation wildlife. Visit Teaming Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (405) 521-4660, www.wildlifedepartment.com (770) 918-6401, www.georgiawildlife.dnr.state.ga.us for Wildlife at: Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (503) 947-6044, www.dfw.state.or.us www.teaming.com (808) 587-0401, www.hawaii.gov/dlnr Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Idaho Fish & Game Department (717) 705-7801, www.ﬁsh.state.pa.us (208) 334-5159, www.ﬁshandgame.idaho.gov Pennsylvania Game Commission Illinois Department of Natural Resources (717) 787-3633, www.pgc.state.pa.us (217) 785-0075, www.dnr.state.il.us Rhode Island Division of Fish & Wildlife Indiana Department of Natural Resources (401) 789-3094, www.dem.ri.gov/index.htm (317) 232-4091, www.in.gov/dnr/ﬁshwild South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Iowa Department of Natural Resources (803) 734-4007, www.dnr.sc.gov (515) 281-5385, www.iowadnr.com South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks (605) 773-3387, www.sdgfp.info/Index.htm (316) 672-5911, www.kdwp.state.ks.us Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Kentucky Department of Fish/Wildlife Resources (615) 781-6552, www.state.tn.us/twra/index.html (502) 564-7109 X333, www.kdfwr.state.ky.us Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (512) 389-4802, www.tpwd.state.tx.us (225) 765-2623, www.wlf.louisiana.gov Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, (801) 538-4703, www.wildlife.utah.gov/index.php (207) 287-5202, www.maine.gov/ifw/index.html Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife Maryland Department of Natural Resources (802) 241-3730, www.vtﬁshandwildlife.com (410) 260-8549, www.dnr.state.md.us Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries Massachusetts Department of Fisheries, Wildlife & (804) 367-9231, www.dgif.virginia.gov Environmental Law Enforcement (508) 792-7270, www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/dfw_toc.htm Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (360) 902-2225, www.wdfw.wa.gov Michigan Department of Natural Resources (517) 373-2329, www.michigan.gov/dnr West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (304) 558-2771, www.wvdnr.gov Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (651) 259-5180, www.dnr.state.mn.us Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (608) 266-2621, www.dnr.state.wi.us Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks (601) 432-2001, www.mdwfp.com Wyoming Game & Fish Department (307) 777-4501, www.gf.state.wy.us Missouri Department of Conservation (573) 522-4115, www.mdc.mo.gov 30 State Wildlife Action Plans “It is our task in our time and in our generation, to hand down undiminished to those who come after us, as was handed down to us by those who went before, the natural wealth and beauty which is ours.” —John F. Kennedy Watching wildlife in Oklahoma/ODWC 444 No. Capitol St. NW, Suite 725 Washington, DC 20001 Tel: 202.624.7890 www.teaming.com www.ﬁshwildlife.org Printed on recycled paper with vegetable based inks.
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