Last modified: Monday, September 16, 2013

Utah Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy

Public input process for Utah's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy

In addition to Advisory Group comments, DWR obtained stakeholder/public input in three ways:

  1. Road trips (October 2004–June 2005) presented the CWCS overview to over 40 different groups & sought input on Strategy statewide;
  2. Public response from April 22 – May 6, 2005 to draft Strategy posted on DWR website; and
  3. Wildlife Regional Advisory Councils (RACs), Governor's Office of Planning and Budget's Resource Development Coordinating Committee (RDCC), & May 7 – 26/05 written public response.

Below, are the comments received from items B and C. Then, at the bottom, is the DWR response to these concerns. The current version of the Strategy (as submitted to the USFWS) reflects those inputs received deemed to enhance the overall CWCS direction/implementation.

April 22 – May 6, 2005: Number of individual public comments received

Species-specific interest groups: 5
Conservation Groups: 4
Local Governments: 3
Representatives of resource industry/agriculture: 2
Universities: 1

Summary of Comments Received from April 22 – May 6, 2005 (Prior to RAC meetings)

(All comments received were considered and addressed as appropriate.)

Overall

  • A fuller explanation of the need and purpose of the CWCS is needed

Species priorities

  • Disagreement with the list of designated Species of Concern
  • Belief that certain species' populations are more abundant than reported
  • Tier I species should be included in tables addressing threats and conservation actions

Coordination and public involvement process

  • The public comment period should be extended
  • Involvement of county and local governments should be increased
  • Involvement and communication with private landowners and citizens with agricultural interests should be increased

Implementation

  • Specific details on how the CWCS will be implemented are needed
  • Linkages between existing planning efforts that contributed to the development of the CWCS need to be clarified
  • Future steps toward implementation of the CWCS through regional and local entities need to be specified
  • Conservation actions for those species whose primary habitat is not a key habitat should be specified
  • Identify if and where focal habitat restoration areas match with existing conservation plans and already protected areas

May 7 – 26, 2005; Comments Received (incl. Regional Advisory Councils & Public comments)

Species-specific interest group: 4
Conservation Group: 2
County Governments: 3
State Government: 1
Representatives of resource industry/agriculture: 3
Individual (unaffiliated): 1

Summary of Comments Received May 7 – 26, 2005 (RACs/RDCC & additional Public input)

Overall

  • Misperception exists that the Strategy is a federal decision document with mandatory regulatory controls prescribed for implementation

Species priorities

  • Disagreement with the list of designated Species of Concern
  • Belief that certain species' populations are more abundant than reported

Threats & actions

  • Objections to the exclusion of identifying certain localized wildlife impacts (i.e., elk over-grazing) on habitat health (i.e., rangeland quality) and economic viability (i.e., AUMs) that also need to be addressed as conservation actions

Coordination and public involvement process

  • Counties (including regional Associations of Governments) objected to not having a direct "cooperating status" role as a Strategy Partner in developing the Strategy
  • Local and/or municipal governments should be offered an opportunity to become coordinating entities in the Strategy's implementation

Monitoring & evaluation

  • Strategy must be deliberate in monitoring habitat restoration projects for vegetative response and evaluating the corresponding effect on the status of sensitive species populations, need to understand why and how

Implementation

  • Resource/industry groups requested they participate in developing the Strategy implementation process
  • Recognition of, and more emphasis needed on how the Strategy can better serve as a proactive economic vehicle through more regional/local participation with resulting implications for sound sustainable growth
  • The CWCS should specify how habitat restoration actions will be implemented

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources response to CWCS public comments

  1. Comment — The CWCS over-emphasizes threats to habitat from livestock grazing while ignoring threats from wildlife and wild horse grazing.
    ResponseThe CWCS has been revised to stress that habitats are threatened from improper grazing practices (such as overgrazing) from livestock, wildlife (elk), and wild horses.
     
  2. Comment — The CWCS should specify how habitat restoration actions will be implemented.
    ResponseThe implementation chapter has been re-written to stress that procedures already developed to implement shrub steppe habitat restoration activities will serve as a model for implementing restoration activities in other habitat types. These procedures, which were developed by the Utah Partners for Conservation and Development, ensure that all stakeholders are represented in the decision-making process.
     
  3. Comment — The CWCS must monitor habitat restoration projects for vegetative response and the corresponding response of sensitive species populations.
    ResponseWe agree. The DWR will continue its statewide long-term shrub steppe habitat condition surveys and will also monitor changes in habitat conditions in select habitat restoration areas. In addition, we will also monitor the response of species populations to different habitat restoration activities. In fact, a pilot project to monitor species responses to habitat restoration is now underway in Rich County.
     
  4. Comment — Many of the Tier III amphibian and reptile species are common and therefore should not be listed on any tier in the CWCS.
    ResponseThere is very little documented information available for the Tier III species, despite some anecdotal reports. The CWCS helps designate species we'll study and document; removing them means these species will not be studied.
     
  5. Comment — Unrestricted collection of some amphibians and reptiles should be allowed by designating species as non-controlled. Unrestricted collection will yield more data.
    ResponseCollection of amphibians and reptiles is addressed in the Collection, Importation and Possession (CIP) rule. Unrestricted collection is unlikely to yield more data.
     
  6. Comment — DWR needs to interview more amateur herpetologists and academics.
    ResponseWe have found that these are not always unbiased sources. Interviewing is rarely an efficient method for obtaining hard data. We are increasing our efforts to collect more information from these sources with the formation of a herpetology working group that will review the amphibian and reptile CIP rule.
     
  7. Comment — Misperception exists that the Strategy is a federal decision document with mandatory regulatory controls prescribed for implementation.
    ResponseDWR is not under any federal law requirement, nor are any of its cooperating entities required to implement mandatory compliance actions. This is an entirely separate process from such other federal decision document processes.
     
  8. Comment — Counties (including regional Associations of Governments) objected to not having a direct "cooperating status" role as a Strategy Partner in developing the Strategy.
    ResponseThe DWR regrets that it was indeed remiss in not inviting several regional and local governance entities to participate in the development of the Strategy as a general management framework. This is an acknowledgement of our oversight.
     
  9. Comment — Local and/or municipal governments should be offered an opportunity to become coordinating entities in the Strategy's implementation.
    ResponseThe DWR is in the process of issuing a formal letter of invitation to the Utah Association of Counties and has requested an audience with the Utah League of Cities and Towns to address their respective request and potential interest in participating as cooperating entities in the development of a Strategy implementation process.
     
  10. Comment — Resource/industry groups requested they participate in developing the Strategy implementation process.
    ResponseThe DWR is in the process of initiating a dialog with and issuing invitations to several resource-based oriented industries that have expressed a greater involvement in the Strategy implementation process.
     
  11. Comment — Recognition of, and more emphasis needed on how the Strategy can better serve as a proactive economic vehicle through more regional/local participation with resulting implications for sound sustainable growth.
    ResponsePlease see the above response to Comment # 9 and 10.

For more information call Mr. Dana Dolsen, Wildlife Planner, at (801) 538-4790.

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