It had long been recognized by Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) members the North American grasslands in the central portions of Mexico, Canada and United States is the only continuous biome spanning across the three countries like a belt around a waist. With past (agricultural conversion, infrastructure development, and urbanization) and current (invasive species, energy development, and urban sprawl) impacts this region needed a conservation focus. In 2004, the WAFWA directed its Habitat and Nongame and Endangered Species committees to use renewal of an MOU for black-tailed prairie dog conservation as a vehicle for beginning the transition toward an ecosystem approach (i.e. prairie) in the Western Great Plains. In January 2006, WAFWA finalized the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation and Management of Species of Conservation Concern Associated with Prairie Ecosystems (MOU) and directed the two committees to ensure that the prairie effort is fully coordinated with, and complementary to, a companion effort to conserve sagebrush and sage-steppe communities (and associated species of wildlife) in the Great Basin, which shares many important species.This MOU was renewed in 2011 and the latest in 2015. The latest MOU can be found below.
This coordinated conservation effort is detailed in a cohesive, comprehensive, WAFWA prairie conservation strategy which was approved at the July 2011 meeting. This Strategy integrates pertinent components of companion efforts for prairie dogs, black-footed ferret, swift and kit foxes, lesser prairie chicken, mountain plover, burrowing owl, ferruginous hawk, Swainson's hawk, loggerhead shrike, and as appropriate and feasible, other shrub and grassland species in the Western Great Plains.
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