The Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks and Wildlife) submitted Colorado’s Wildlife Action Plan (8MB) to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on September 29, 2005, and it was finalized November 2, 2006. Although the Division of Wildlife (DOW), as the state’s principal wildlife conservation agency, coordinated the development of this important document, many conservation organizations, agencies, and private citizens contributed their ideas and concerns to the final document. The Conservation Strategy identifies the top priority species and habitats needing conservation in the state, and the potential conservation actions that can be used by everyone in Colorado as a guide for planning, partnership building, and project design and implementation. Thus, it is truly a strategy for all of Colorado.
The Action Plan is not an Endangered Species Recovery Plan, nor other type of regulatory or “decision” document. Its purpose is to convey the state’s wildlife conservation needs in order to foster greater consistency in conservation efforts among all members of Colorado’s wildlife conservation community and others with a stake in Colorado wildlife conservation. The Action Plan also provides references and internet linkages to the more specific conservation, recovery, or other action plans for numerous species and groups of species in Colorado.
In 2001, Congress established a new Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program (WCRP) to provide funds to support the needs of wildlife species and their habitats and related recreational and educational activities. Through this program, grants are made to the states for the planning and implementation of wildlife and habitat conservation programs. Each state fish and wildlife agency was required to develop a Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) by October 1, 2005, in order to continue to receive these funds. The CWCS had to be submitted to the US Fish and Wildlife Service by October 2005.
Colorado’s CWCS, submitted on September 29, 2005 fulfills the eight specific elements required by Congress in the federal legislation that provides funds to the states.
To better reflect the pro-active nature of the content of these state comprehensive wildlife conservation strategies, they were entitled as wildlife action plans Colorado’s action plan identifies 210 species and 13 major habitat types of greatest conservation need. For each species, the plan describes population status, trend and distribution. It also places these species in Tier 1 or 2 priority and identifies primary habitats, threats and conservation actions for each. The plan also describes status and trend for Colorado’s wildlife habitats and ranks them as high, medium or low with regard to conservation need. Partners may use this plan to identify wildlife conservation priorities to consider in proposing and implementing specific projects, and to identify high priority threats and conservation actions to address those threats. Partners can demonstrate how their proposals for conservation easements, habitat enhancement or restoration, invasive species control, or other conservation actions are linked to Colorado’s wildlife action plan priorities to compete for available grants.
Periodic review of the strategy is expected to occur at intervals not to exceed ten years. Coordination will occur with federal, state and local agencies and Indian tribes that manage lands or programs affecting wildlife. Public participation is encouraged in the implementation and review of the strategy.
The Colorado DOW defines species conservation as conserving, protecting and enhancing Colorado’s native wildlife, by taking actions necessary to assure the continued existence of each species and thereby precluding or eliminating the need for state and /or federal listing. With continuing human activities exerting increasing pressure on Colorado’s wildlife species and their habitat, special attention is needed to prevent wildlife from declining to the point of endangerment.
The WCRP grants will greatly assist the DOW in its species conservation efforts currently funded by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO).
DOW plans to initiate a full review of the action plan in 2011 by implementing the 8-step process to identify and prioritize an updated list of species of greatest conservation need and habitat priorities, and better identifying more specific areas in Colorado as conservation priorities.
We are currently working with the Nature Conservancy, Center for Native Ecosystems, Intermountain West Joint Venture, Playa Lakes Joint Venture, and other stakeholders concerning possible revisions.
Potential revisions that may occur earlier include: 1) inclusion of plants, 2) assessment of important wildlife corridors/linkages, and 3) identification of habitats and species of greatest conservation need that may be most vulnerable to climate changes projected for Colorado.