Utah Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy
Utah's Wildlife Conservation Strategy: Saving Utah's Most Sensitive Species and Spaces as well as a Platform for Collaborative Wildlife Planning at the State Level
The State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program was developed in 2001 to increase conservation funding for all fish and wildlife species. SWG expanded game and sport fish wildlife conservation revenues beyond traditional monies to include a funding source for all species (both game and nongame) and habitats of greatest conservation need. SWG is now the nation's core program to keep fish/wildlife from becoming federally threatened or endangered. Efforts are underway in Utah to restore habitat, enhance or reintroduce native species, and improve the stewardship of public and private lands using State Wildlife Grants (SWG).
To be eligible for SWG money, each state/territory must submit a Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) outlining conservation priorities for up to 10 years. Each state's strategy will:
- identify priority fish and wildlife species and their habitats
- assess threats to their survival, and
- identify actions that may be taken to conserve them over the long term
State fish and wildlife agencies are leading the development of CWCSs and seek voluntary input and assistance from diverse stakeholders, including land management and conservation groups, government agencies and planning entities, resource users, private landowners, and other citizens with wildlife interests.
In Utah, the UDWR has a CWCS Advisory Group that met 8 times from June 2003 through December 2004 to advise on the Strategy development; members included the USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, USDA's Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Utah Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, Trout Unlimited, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, and the Utah Farm Bureau.
In Utah, the implementation of watershed and rangeland habitat restoration efforts is coordinated through a joint partnership of federal and state environmental agencies called the Utah Partners for Conservation and Development (UPCD). Local government (i.e., county, cities and towns) / private sector involvement occurs at the UPCD Core and Regional Implementation Team levels, and similar restoration efforts for other key habitat types will begin soon.
- The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) is spearheading additional joint partnerships to initiate complementary conservation actions for fish and wildlife species.
- Utah's CWCS:
- seeks partner-based strategies for the restoration, protection, and enhancement of fish and wildlife species and habitats based on mutual priorities
- targets improving and coordinating management practices to conserve sensitive species and habitats
- leverages public and private sector support in species and habitat conservation to sustain Utah's economic viability and quality of life for present and future citizens
- The Utah CWCS will build relationships between land use and environmental interests representing both public and private concerns.
- Conservation actions for fish and wildlife and habitats can be integrated into environmental and land use plans to attain shared local (i.e., county) and regional agency priority decisions.
- By acting to conserve species before they become federally threatened or endangered, regulatory problems and economic impacts associated with such listing may be avoided.