Wildlife Department and Partners to Co-Host Public Meetings

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The Oklahoma Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy will be the focus of a series of statewide public meetings to be held April 4-8. The meetings will be co-hosted by a diverse group of partners including the Noble Foundation, OG&E, Weyerhaeuser Inc., The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club and Cameron University.

“We are certainly looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on this important strategy,” said Andrea Crews, responsive management specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “This is a historic effort, because this type of comprehensive plan has never been done before in our state.”

The Strategy, which is being created by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in collaboration with wildlife stakeholders, addresses the needs of fish and wildlife species in the state that are rare or declining.

“This strategy is designed to answer three questions. What are the species and habitats in trouble? Why are they in trouble? Most importantly, what are we going to do about it,” Crews said.

It will use a habitat approach rather than a species-by-species management approach. All 50 states are creating similar Strategies such that, when fit together like a puzzle, will show the current state of America’s wildlife and identify the actions needed to keep fish and wildlife populations healthy.

“We want to keep common wildlife species common and work to prevent populations from being added to the endangered species list,” Crews said.

A wide variety of stakeholders have provided information for Oklahoma’s Strategy, including technical experts from federal and state agencies, conservation organizations, landowner, sportsmen and others interested in wildlife conservation. This draft is the next step in the development of the Strategy.

“We are hoping individuals will read the parts of the strategy that most interest them and offer their thoughts via e-mail or at the public meetings to be held across the state. The more input we have from a wide audience, the better plan we will be able to produce,” Crews said.

Hunters, anglers and boaters have traditionally funded the majority of fish and wildlife conservation. This funding has not been enough to address the needs of all 800 plus wildlife species in Oklahoma. The same case exists nationwide, and state fish and wildlife agencies have been working for 20 years to fill this funding gap. This Strategy is a component of the new federal State Wildlife Grants Program - the nation’s core program for keeping America’s wildlife populations healthy.

This second draft review period is a vitally important step - and opportunity - in the process of preparing Oklahoma’s Strategy. Anyone with an interest in wildlife in Oklahoma is encouraged to review the draft and provide their comments either in person or through e-mail by April 15.

Draft Strategy chapters can be downloaded from the planning contractor’s Web site in PDF format: http://www.dynamicsolutionsgroup.com/OK/. Those with comments should use the form provided and send email to bruce.h@dynamicsolutionsgroup.com.

Individuals can also make their comments in person at the following meetings. All meetings will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

April 4 – Oklahoma City
Metro Tech Spring Lake Campus -1900 Springlake Drive
Meeting co-hosted by OG&E, Noble Foundation and Sierra Club.

April 5 – Woodward
City of Woodward building, Pioneer Room,1219 8th Street
Meeting co-hosted by The Nature Conservancy.

April 6 – Lawton
Cameron University, Band Room, 2800 West Gore Boulevard
Meeting co-hosted by Cameron University.

April 7 – McAlester
Kiamichi Vocational Technical Center-South Conference Room, 301 Kiamichi Drive
Meeting co-hosted by Weyerhaeuser.

April 8 – Tulsa
OSU-Tulsa Campus, North Hall Room 151, 700 N. Greenwood Ave.
Meeting co-hosted by The Nature Conservancy.