State Wildlife Action Plan Received Federal Approval
A Wildlife Action Plan submitted by Wisconsin has been approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All 50 states and six U.S. territories submitted plans earlier this year establishing a blueprint for conserving imperiled species so they don’t become threatened or endangered.
The Wildlife Action Plans are the first of their kind -- a thorough state-by-state look at wildlife and the actions needed to ensure their survival. An approved action plan allows states and territories to continue to receive grants under the federal State Wildlife Grant program created in 2001. Since then, the Fish and Wildlife Service has provided $400 million in grants to states and territories for conservation efforts.
“We developed Wisconsin’s plan with the help and input of dozens of people throughout the state who are familiar with our native animals,” says Signe Holtz, director of the Bureau of Endangered Resources for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “Thanks to this help, we’ve identified which of our native species face the greatest conservation need, the threats affecting them and potential conservation actions. Our plan offers a statewide strategy for looking at all of Wisconsin’s wildlife – game and non-game, land- and water-based, large and small – so we can conserve those species at greatest risk and their habitats.”
The Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan, like the others, establishes a coordinated strategy to help all wildlife species. In the past, most of the states and territories have had great success in managing game species. This new program will help fund expansion of that conservation work to include all wildlife species and their habitats.
Addressing the impact of the Wisconsin plan as well as other states’ plans, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall noted that all the plans were required to address similar issues yet every plan was different in that they were developed at the state level by cooperating state partners with solutions and strategies tailored to a state’s unique needs and resources. “No two plans are alike but they all address specific needs and that is their strength”, he said.
“The Wisconsin plan considers the unique natural resources, historic trends and interests of the state,” said Robyn Thorson, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Director. “The Service was pleased to participate in the development of the Wisconsin plan by identifying key natural resources at our national wildlife refuges, as well as shared responsibilities such as migratory birds. We now look forward to continued partnership with Wisconsin to help address priority actions identified in its plan.”
Federal law required states and territories to submit individual plans to the Fish and Wildlife Service by October 2005. The Service will distribute $68.5 million in grants next spring for states and territories to implement approved action plans.
Wisconsin’s plan sets a framework for safeguarding various native birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates such as dragonflies, butterflies, and freshwater mussels that live in a variety of Wisconsin’s native habitats, including oak savannas, barrens, grasslands, forests, wetlands and shorelines.
State Wildlife Grants Wisconsin has received to conserve wildlife helped create the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail system, remove a dam along the Baraboo River to restore spawning areas for native fish, and restore wetlands in the Turtle Valley State Wildlife Area located in heavily-populated southeast Wisconsin. A survey of forest songbirds, a bat conservation plan, an inventory of native mammals, and grassland restoration work are among the 29 wildlife conservation projects that Wisconsin funded this year using $1.5 million in federal State Wildlife Grant dollars.
“These plans represent a future for conservation in America that is rooted in cooperation and partnership between the federal government and states, tribes, local governments, conservation groups, private landowners and others with a commitment to the health of our land and water, fish and wildlife,” said Department of Interior Secretary Gail Norton. “Working together, we are tapping into the expertise of those who live and work on the land so that we can conserve our fish and wildlife before they become threatened or endangered.
“Through State Wildlife Grants, we are empowering states, territories, and their many partners to do what the federal government cannot do alone,” she said. “The grant program is now our nation’s primary conservation program for keeping species healthy and off the list of threatened and endangered species.”
Norton said she has instructed the Fish and Wildlife Service to work with all Interior land management agencies as well as other federal land management agencies to support the goals and objectives outlined in the wildlife action plans in their agencies’ land management strategies and plans
States may use State Wildlife Grant funds for either planning or project implementation activities. Each state plan had to contain information on low and declining populations of wildlife and the habitats they require, identify problems that affect these populations, identify research and survey efforts to improve their conservation efforts, determine actions and priorities. State plans must be updated at least once every 10 years.
Wisconsin’s Wildlife Action Plan can be found on the DNR Web site.