Team Wildlife - Habitat - Learn

Team Wildlife - Habitat - Learn

  • 14 people cited for trespassing on wildlife and waterfowl management areas in northern Utah during seasonal closure

    The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is reminding people to adhere to the seasonal closures on wildlife and waterfowl management areas in northern Utah after 14 people were cited for trespassing.

  • Citations issued for camping, illegal target shooting on the Millville-Providence WMA

    The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources closed the Millville-Providence Wildlife Management Area to overnight camping and target shooting last year after years of ongoing issues, including public safety concerns. After an uptick in violations, conservation officers want to remind the public of the rules, and that citations will be issued for violations.

  • DWR closes East Fork Little Bear WMA to camping

    The East Fork Little Bear Wildlife Management Area is located just west of Porcupine Reservoir along East Canyon Road in Paradise. The land in Cache County was not originally acquired as a public camping spot. However, the DWR decided to allow camping on the property, hoping campers would respect the area and take good care of it. Most have, but over the years, enough campers have marred the wildlife management area to a point that the DWR has decided to close it to camping.

  • DWR reminds of new rule after increase in illegal e-bikes ruining habitat on wildlife, waterfowl management areas

    After seeing an uptick in issued warnings in recent years, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers are reminding the public that class 2 and class 3 electronic bikes are now illegal off-road on all wildlife and waterfowl management areas in Utah.

  • Habitat Council

    Habitat Council

    Preserving and protecting Utah's fish and wildlife habitats

    Two horseback riders riding over a stream

    All wildlife have three basic needs: food, water and shelter. Wildlife habitats are areas across the landscape that fulfill those basic needs. Each species requires different habitat characteristics to survive, reproduce and thrive.

    Unfortunately, there are many threats that impact wildlife habitats — and the larger, interrelated ecosystems of which they are a part — and these challenges become more complex every year. Fish and wildlife habitats are jeopardized by:

    • Habitat degradation
    • Invasive species
    • Fragmentation
    • Disruption of ecosystem processes
    • Loss of habitat

    Along with conservation partners, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources works to minimize damages and threats to ecosystems. We also improve, restore and acquire habitat areas so that wildlife can maintain healthy populations. The Wildlife Habitat Account — more commonly known as the Habitat Council — is one of the major funding mechanisms for supporting habitat improvement projects in Utah.

    Funding habitat improvement

    In 1995, the Utah Legislature created the Wildlife Habitat Account, which is funded by a portion of revenue from license, permit, stamp and certificate of registration fees related to hunting and fishing. Money deposited into this account can be used for the enhancement, preservation, management, acquisition and protection of fish and wildlife habitat, and for improving hunting and fishing access.

    For more information about the Habitat Council's mission and funding, see Utah State Code: 23A-3-207, and 23A-3-208.

    Habitat Council projects

    Between 2006 and 2023, the Habitat Council program allocated $44.3 million to complete 1,506 wildlife habitat projects at DWR wildlife management areas and waterfowl management areas, as well as on federal, state and private lands and waterways. Those funds were further leveraged with public and private partnership contributions at a 1-to-3 ratio.

    Collectively, these projects have resulted in significant habitat protection in Utah, including:

    • Improving over 371,187 acres of terrestrial habitat
    • Restoring 2,008 miles of streams and rivers
    • Acquiring 28,358 acres of land and waterways now managed by the state or placed under permanent conservation easements

    There is still much work to be done to ensure healthy ecosystems for Utah's fish and wildlife. Each year, the Habitat Council reviews dozens of new proposals for projects that address threats to wildlife habitats. Projects are proposed and evaluated through the Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative database, a centralized portal for funding and tracking the completion of habitat-related projects for the Habitat Council and other conservation partners.

    Project slideshow

    Click or tap the image below to view a slideshow of recent projects.

    Ogden Bay WMA upland/wetland enhancement project

    What is the Habitat Council?

    The Habitat Council consists of eight individual members who act as an advisory board for the Wildlife Habitat Account. Members include four public representatives and four DWR or Department of Natural Resources employees. Citizen members are appointed to a two-year term by the DWR Director, with a possible extension for an additional term. Each of the public members represents a specific habitat interest:

    • Big game
    • Upland game
    • Waterfowl
    • Fisheries

    The purposes of the Habitat Council are:

    • To provide recommendations to the DWR regarding the expenditure of Wildlife Habitat Account funds.
    • To identify the most effective methods of protecting, preserving and enhancing important wildlife habitat in the state.
    • To recommend the most appropriate means of providing access to hunting and fishing opportunities.
    • To seek out ways to maximize DWR revenue available for Wildlife Habitat Account programs through fund matching, partnerships, etc.
    • To review habitat management planning functions for DWR lands (WMAs).
    • To encourage biological diversity and ecosystem-based management.
    • To evaluate external conservation permit habitat project proposals not reviewed by Utah's Watershed Restoration Initiative.

    Download the Habitat Council Handbook

    Joining the Habitat Council

    If you're interested in joining the council, contact the DWR Habitat Section Chief, a council member or a regional DWR Habitat Section employee.

  • Millard County partners with DWR to prevent potential flooding, debris flows after wildfire

    The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources partnered with Millard County officials to authorize construction of several debris basins in an effort to prevent debris flows and possible flooding damage after the Halfway Hill Fire in Millard County earlier this year.

  • Over 164K acres improved through Utah's Watershed Restoration Initiative habitat projects in 2021–22

    Utah's Watershed Restoration Initiative works to improve and restore high-priority watersheds and habitats throughout the state. During this past fiscal year — between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 — a whopping 164,064 acres were improved across Utah through this unique program.

  • Quiz: How much do you know about Utah's wildlife management areas?

    Construction equipment doing habitat restoration Find out how much you know about Utah's wildlife management areas (WMAs).
  • Target shooting with a firearm temporarily banned on 25 Utah wildlife management areas due to wildfire concerns

    Due to continuing drought conditions and wildfire concerns, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, in conjunction with the corresponding county sheriff's departments, are temporarily restricting recreational target shooting with a firearm on 26 wildlife management areas across the state.

  • Wildlife/Waterfowl Management Areas (WMAs)

    Wildlife/Waterfowl Management Areas (WMAs)

    What are they and what is their purpose?

    Hobble Creek WMA

    Wildlife Management Areas and Waterfowl Management Areas (both WMAs) are properties owned and managed by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for the following purposes:

    • Conserving critical wildlife habitats
    • Helping to minimize and mitigate wildlife depredation on private property
    • Providing places where Utahns can go to hunt and fish

    Currently, there are 194 WMAs throughout Utah, totaling over 500,000 acres, or 780 square miles. Each WMA ranges in size from a couple dozen acres to over 50,000 acres.

    Since the 1909 purchase of property to establish the state's first fish hatchery, the division has acquired land to support Utah's fish and wildlife. The Division first established WMAs in Utah in the 1920s to provide winter ranges with feed and shelter to help deer and other big game animals survive in the snowy, winter months. The Division and its partners manage these lands and implement habitat projects to help provide food and water to maintain healthy wildlife populations.

    Use the "Show/Hide columns" button on the right to choose which columns to display. You may scroll the chart vertically and horizontally.

    Each WMA operates according to its own habitat management plan. Some WMAs and portions of WMAs are closed to the public, while others have limited access during certain times of the year. Unlike other public or state-owned lands, WMAs are not multi-use lands, and the types of recreation allowed are limited. For details about whether you may enter a Utah WMA or what you are allowed to do there, check the Wildlife Recreation Access Maps.

    For WMAs that allow public access, use of these lands, including for camping (where it is allowed) is free of charge.

    WMA FAQs

    How does the DWR manage WMA properties?

    For most WMAs, their primary purpose is to provide a winter range for wildlife — an area with food and shelter to help the animals survive the winter months. The Division works year-round and implements various projects with Utah's Watershed Restoration Initiative to ensure there is sufficient vegetation and healthy watersheds in these areas.

    For areas that have been ravaged by wildfires, the Division rehabilitates the land, clearing charred bush and reseeding the ground. In many cases, the Division will take preventative measures to reduce future wildfires, including removing excessive conifer trees and other flammable items.

    Where does the funding come from for WMA maintenance and purchases?

    One of the main funding sources is the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program. This program was created through the 1937 Pittman–Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950. Much of this funding comes from an excise tax on hunting and fishing equipment.

    Additional funding comes from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and permits, which is why hunting and angling are the primary recreational activities allowed on these lands. Thus, individuals who enter WMAs with the intent of hunting or angling there help pay for their use.

    What am I allowed/not allowed to do on a WMA?

    Hunting and fishing are activities that are allowed on WMAs, but visitors should note that some WMAs are closed during certain times of the year so that wildlife aren't disturbed.

    Because WMAs are primarily intended to provide food and habitat for wildlife and are not established as multi-use public lands, they are not well suited for many other forms of outdoor recreation, including off-roading, mountain biking, etc. On some WMAs, these activities are prohibited, while on other WMAs, they may be allowed but only in certain areas. Check the Wildlife Recreation Access Maps for each WMA's rules and regulations before planning a visit. Information about each WMA is also posted at the entrances.

    What can I do to help the DWR care for WMAs?

    Recent incidents of vandalism, littering and other criminal activity, as well as overcrowding, have caused issues at some WMAs and have led to closures. In addition, wildfires caused by target shooting have caused additional closures and destroyed necessary habitat for wildlife who utilize the areas. These types of incidents require expensive repairs and habitat rehabilitation.

    The most important thing you can do as a visitor to a WMA is to follow the posted rules and refrain from doing anything that would hurt the animals or damage the habitat.

    Want to learn more? Listen to the DWR "Wild" podcast!

    DWR Central Region Habitat Program Manager Mark Farmer and DWR Wildlife Lands Coordinator Chelsea Duke talk about the Division-owned Wildlife Management Areas — what they are, the purpose of these lands and the activities that are allowed there.

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