Bobcat, Nevada - Photo Credit Tim Torell

Bear, Alaska - Photo Credit Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Mountain Goats, Colorado - Photo Credit Wayne D. Lewis

Black-tailed Deer, Washington - Photo Credit Patrick Armstrong

 
 
 

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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

Easements for Endangered Species

The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) published a case study about collaborative efforts to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken in five western states.


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


Oct 05

ON THE HORIZON- Issue 8-October 2017

Sagebrush website, conservation easements & chasing native trout. Find out about the latest efforts to conserve the lands, waters and wildlife in the West.


Sep 29

WAFWA Issues Call for Sagebrush Social Science Research Projects

 

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has announced a call to prepare and submit proposals for funding social science projects to better understand the human dimensions aspects of managing and conserving the sagebrush ecosystem. Funds will be provided through the Sagebrush Science Initiative, a collaborative effort of WAFWA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Project results will be included in the Sagebrush Conservation Strategy, the development of which is being coordinated by WAFWA, and are expected to inform collaborative, multi-organizational efforts to sustainably manage sagebrush systems. WAFWA has previously released two Requests for Proposals, which subsequently funded nine projects for biological science to inform management of sagebrush-dependent species. This will be the first call for social science research.  

“We recognize that conservation of the sagebrush ecosystem must recognize and provide for human perspectives and needs from this system,” said Tom Remington, WAFWA’s science coordinator. “To be successful, we need to understand the stakeholder’s needs and concerns, their perspectives on potential conservation strategies, and other human dimensions of sagebrush conservation.”

Approximately $200,000 has been earmarked for social science grants, and several are expected to be awarded. The deadline for submitting proposals is Nov. 30, 2017. Proposals will be reviewed and ranked by the Sagebrush Science Initiative Oversight Committee, a group of scientists and managers familiar with sagebrush conservation from federal and state agencies as well as universities.  Final selection of project awards will be made by Dec. 29 2017.

 

Full details are available HERE

Media Contact: Tom Remington

970-221-3310, remingtontom@msn.com 

 

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.


Sep 26

Kansas Conservation Easement Protects Lesser Prairie-chicken in the Shortgr...

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has finalized permanent conservation agreements with three private landowners to conserve 3,682 acres of high-quality lesser prairie-chicken habitat in northwestern Kansas.


Sep 20

Grants Benefiting Native Trout Awarded in Six Western States

The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) has awarded $18,800 out of its small grant program for eight projects, which will be matched by $98,014 in other public and private funding. More than $116,814 in conservation efforts benefitting western native trout will occur as a result.

“We’re very grateful to our partners at Rocky Mountain Flyathlon, Orvis, and all our individual donors for supporting our 2017 Small Grants Program,” said Therese Thompson, WNTI Project Coordinator. “The community-based projects were selected because of their emphasis on collaborative action and outreach to help address challenges facing the restoration and recovery of western native trout.”

Project summaries:

Arizona and New Mexico: Get To Know Your Native – Gila Trout                                                              $1,500
Applicant: Arizona Council, Trout Unlimited
This project is a coordinated education and outreach effort focusing on raising awareness for the native Gila Trout in Arizona and New Mexico. 

California: Research Opportunities for Undergraduate Training at West Hills CCD                                  $3,000
Applicant: West Hills Community College District
Work with the National Park Service focuses on the establishment of an environmental education program and undergraduate research program focused on the biology and habitat of the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, which is supported with this small grant.   

Colorado: Habitat Monitoring and Stream Assessment Program                                                                $3,000
Applicant: Colorado Trout Unlimited
This project will coordinate efforts among Colorado Trout Unlimited chapters with input from state and federal agency partners to monitor water temperature profiles in existing Greenback and Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout habitat, use stream temperature analysis to identify new habitats that could support the fish within their native ranges, and promote community engagement in native trout restoration through citizen science and public outreach.

Colorado: Middle Fork Carnero Creek Culvert Replacement                                                                        $3,000
Applicant: US Forest Service - Rio Grande National Forest
The objective of this project is the replacement of an aged culvert with an open arch design, which will provide road safety while re-opening 7.2 miles of habitat for Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout. 

Colorado: Butler Creek Riparian Restoration                                                                                                 $1,150
Applicant: Middle Colorado Watershed Council
This project will restore native vegetation along a riparian corridor by re-establishing native riparian vegetation, specifically willows, to benefit Colorado River Cutthroat Trout habitat.

Idaho: Bates Access Signs and Stewardship                                                                                                  $2,500
Applicant: Friends of the Teton River
Project partners will print interpretive signage and construct 2 interpretive kiosks at a new Teton River access point bridge near Driggs, Idaho, focusing on conservation and stewardship of water resources and current efforts to conserve Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. 

New Mexico: Gila Trout Restoration Project informational sign on Willow Creek                                     $1,650
Applicant: Gila/Rio Grande Chapter of Trout Unlimited
This project will create an informational sign, printed on an aluminum panel using a 4-color process describing the effects of recent wildfires on Gila Trout habitat and ongoing conservation and stream habitat restoration work.

Utah: Jacobs Creek Upper Culvert Fish Passage                                                                                           $3,000
Applicant: Trout Unlimited
The project will improve accessibility of spawning habitat and fish migrations for Bonneville Cutthroat Trout through a culvert on Jacobs Creek, a tributary to the Weber River. This project is a continuation of work on the Weber River featured in the Blueheads and Bonnevilles film produced in 2016 by the Western Native Trout Initiative and Desert Fish Habitat Partnership and is partially funded by a crowdfunding effort specifically for additional conservation projects on the Weber River.

 

Media Contact:Therese Thompson, 303.236.4402  tthompson@westernnativetrout.org 

For more information about the Small Grants Program, visit http://www.westernnativetrout.org/

WAFWA news releases available at http://www.wafwa.org/news/

Photo Credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources - Bear Lake Bonneville Cutthroat Trout

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. 


Aug 22

Kansas Conservation Easement Increases Protection for Lesser Prairie-chicke...

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has finalized permanent conservation agreements with a private landowner to conserve 968 acres of high-quality lesser prairie-chicken habitat in south-central Kansas. In addition, a 160-acre tract owned by another private landowner that is fenced and managed with the property will be protected under a 10-year conservation agreement that was finalized this week. These two tracts of land are immediately adjacent to a 1,781-acre tract which was placed under a permanent conservation agreement earlier this year. The conserved acreage is all native rangeland currently being managed for livestock production, and this historical use will continue.

“Thanks to conservation-minded landowners, we now have a complex of 2,909 acres being managed with the needs of the lesser prairie-chicken in mind,” said Roger Wolfe, WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-Chicken Program Manager.  “The ranch is in very good condition due to a long history of good management and there are two active leks on the property.”

The permanent conservation easement on the 968-acre tract was purchased by WAFWA and will be held and monitored by Pheasants Forever. The easement restricts future development and activities that would be detrimental to the habitat for the bird. All other property rights associated with historical use of the land will be retained by the private landowner.  WAFWA has also established an endowment that will provide the landowner with sufficient payments to implement a lesser prairie-chicken conservation plan in perpetuity. This transaction not only permanently protects key prairie habitat, but also ensures that this property will remain a working cattle ranch.

"Pheasants Forever is proud to partner with WAFWA and the private landowners to complete this voluntary conservation easement,” said Jordan Martincich, Director of Development for Pheasants Forever. “The conservation values associated with this project will have a positive impact on wildlife habitat for future generations.  We hope other landowners will partner with Pheasants Forever and WAFWA to perpetually protect their working lands for the benefit of wildlife and the benefit of the ranching community."

The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. It was developed to ensure conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken by providing a mechanism for voluntary cooperation by landowners 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. The plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat. Landowners interested in participating in one of the short-term, long-term or permanent conservation options available under the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Plan should contact Roger Wolfe at roger.wolfe@wafwa.org

 

WAFWA news releases available at http://www.wafwa.org/news/

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan can be found HERE

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

Photo Credit: Conservation Media

 

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.


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