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Feb 10

WAFWA Applauds Secretary Zinke's Executive Order 3362

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) commends today's signing of Executive Order 3362 by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The executive order is aimed at improving western big game habitat and associated migration corridors. The signing and announcement was made by the Secretary while attending the Western Conservation and Hunting Expo in Salt Lake City. 

"We applaud Secretary Zinke for recognizing and highlighting the importance of big game populations in the western United States, along with his efforts to bring a new and heightened focus to maintain key big game habitats and crucial migratory linkages," said Curt Melcher, Director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and WAFWA President. "The state fish and wildlife agencies represented by WAFWA are eager to work with the Secretary and others on this legacy initiative to ensure a healthy future for western wildlife and wildlife-based recreation."

Click here for DOI press release

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 23 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.
 


Feb 01

ON THE HORIZON- Issue 10 - February 2018

CWD recommendations, collaborative conservation & songbird maps. Find out about the latest efforts to conserve the land, water and wildlife of the West.


Jan 31

WAFWA Conservation Partners Forum Aims to Amplify Lesser Prairie-chicken Co...

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) recently convened a forum of conservation professionals working on lesser prairie-chicken recovery efforts to share information and strategize how conservation efforts for the bird can be enhanced. The meeting took place at the Arcadia Conservation Education Area in Edmond, OK Jan.17-18, 2018, and was hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, WAFWA, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

More than 60 professionals attended, including representatives of state and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations that are working on a variety of efforts to conserve the grassland bird. The lesser-prairie chicken was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2014, a listing that was vacated in 2016 as a result of a lawsuit and subsequent federal court ruling. Several environmental groups petitioned that decision, and a species status review is currently underway by USFWS, which could result in the species being listed again.

The conservation partners forum was designed to identify paths forward to enhance current conservation strategies and develop new strategies to conserve grasslands and the lesser prairie-chicken. The focal point of the meeting was WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan.

“We view the range-wide plan as a road map for comprehensive recovery of the lesser prairie-chicken,” said attendee Tim Griffiths, West Working Lands for Wildlife Coordinator with NRCS. “We were glad to participate, because we believe there is ample opportunity to scale up private lands conservation in the Southern Great Plains. Having a diverse group of partners aligned and all working towards productivity of working rangelands will yield much larger results.”

The partners shared information on current efforts and then spent time brainstorming specific ideas and suggestions on how to move forward to amplify collective efforts.

"Everyone at the table during the meeting shares the same goals of improving habitat and ultimately increasing populations of the lesser prairie-chicken across its range," said J.D. Strong, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and Chairman of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative Council. "Now comes the real work of executing our action items, and I am confident that we can make a real difference for long-term health of the prairie chicken population and the working landscape where it lives."

Action items included improving reporting, better coordination of conservation efforts, enhanced communication, and developing precise interim measures tied to the long-term goals of the range-wide plan. Ensuring grassland and lesser prairie-chicken conservation funding is included in the Farm Bill that will be before Congress soon was another item highlighted.

“This gathering has really exceeded expectations,” said Amy Lueders, USFWS Regional Director for the Southwest Region. “We all share a passion for this and it’s encouraging to celebrate the conservation successes we’ve had so far and work together to amplify all of the efforts out there.  We all need to stay focused on the goals of the range-wide plan and the bigger picture of restoring prairie ecosystems that are at risk, not only for the lesser prairie-chicken, but for all species that depend on healthy habitat.”

The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA; the state wildlife agencies of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas; U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and many non-government conservation organizations. It was developed to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken by providing another voluntary conservation program for landowner and industry, and improving coordination between state and federal conservation agencies. Funding for WAFWA’s conservation efforts comes from voluntary mitigation payments by industry partners that are enrolled in the plan.

Media Contact:
Roger Wolfe, 785-256-3737
roger.wolfe@wafwa.org

Photo Credit: Grant Beauprez

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 23 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future


Dec 06

ON THE HORIZON - Issue 9 - December 2017

Grassland and creek restoration & smiling for conservation. Find out about the latest efforts to conserve the lands, waters and wildlife in the West. 


Dec 01

New WAFWA Grassland Program to Benefit Lesser Prairie-chicken

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has launched a new program to restore degraded rangeland to high quality lesser prairie-chicken habitat and reduce grassland habitat losses. The WAFWA Grassland Restoration and Retention Program will be fueled by voluntary donations from conservation-minded individuals, organizations, businesses and industry. The program will complement other efforts being implemented through the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan and expedite progress towards the plan’s goals.

Donations will help increase the amount of usable habitat for lesser prairie-chickens within high priority conservation areas. The program will provide financial support to landowners for mechanical removal of invasive trees, grass planting, and conversion of idle grasslands to grazing lands. WAFWA will maximize the benefits to the bird by utilizing donations to secure additional funding through matching grants or leverage existing USDA programs such as the Lesser Prairie-chicken Initiative administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“This is a new tool in our conservation toolbox that will enable us to advance conservation efforts for the lesser prairie-chicken,” said J.D. Strong, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Director and Chair of the Lesser Prairie-chicken Initiative Council. “We’ve received significant support for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan from industry and landowners, and we’ve also received support from various entities and conservation partners outside of the range-wide plan. We’re hopeful that this new program will provide another way for people who are interested in the bird’s long-term survival to get involved in its conservation.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the status of the lesser prairie-chicken, which could result in the bird being placed on the endangered species list again. The bird was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2014, but a 2015 court decision vacated federal protections on procedural grounds. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service commenced another status review of the lesser prairie-chicken in 2016 which is scheduled to be completed this winter. WAFWA scientists believe that additional habitat restoration in addition to the existing conservation efforts is needed to minimize the risk of a federal listing. The initial goal for the program is to create 75,000 acres of new habitat over the next three years to increase the population of birds in priority areas.

“We plan on focusing initial efforts on mechanical brush management in the mixed grass and shinnery oak ecoregions,” explained Roger Wolfe, WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-Chicken Program Manager. “This management practice gives us the most bang for our buck because it immediately improves degraded rangeland to a condition where it can be utilized by lesser prairie-chickens.”

WAFWA is seeking $10 million in donations to fund the first phase of the effort. Funds will be leveraged or matched with other funding sources to the maximum extent possible. Interested donors can make contributions to WAFWA’s Foundation for Western Fish & Wildlife. The foundation is a 501c(3) non-profit so all donations are tax deductible. Interested donors should contact Sean Kyle for more information about contributing to this program.

Sean Kyle
WAFWA, Industry Services Director
Phone: 806-252-2766
Email: sean.kyle@wafwa.org

WAFWA Grassland Restoration and Retention Program

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan

Media Contact:
Roger Wolfe, 785-256-3737
roger.wolfe@wafwa.org

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 23 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.

Photo Credit: Grant Beauprez


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