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Colorado to update wildlife action plan

Public input wanted

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Elk in Colorado’s Blue River Valley. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO —Colorado is set to start updating a critical wildlife action plan that helps the state qualify for federal grant funds to protect habitat. The existing version of the plan was completed in 2006 and is due for a mandated 10-year overhaul.

State Wildlife Action Plans originated in the early 2000’s after a coalition of federal and state resource agencies, sportsmen’s groups, conservation groups, non-governmental organizations, businesses and private citizens joined in partnership, urging the feds to provide grants for wildlife and habitat conservation.

Congress required each state and territory develop a wildlife action plan in order to qualify for grants. In Colorado, the funding has helped maintain a native fish hatchery and paid for bat conservation projects.

“We will not be starting from scratch,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife species conservation coordinator Eric Odell. “Although the current plan is comprehensive and effective, all states are required to update their plans on a 10-year interval per U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requirements.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will manage review of the document; however, it is not solely an agency plan. All included partners will use it as a blueprint to direct a multitude of conservation plans and action, making their contributions an important part of the process.

“We anticipate robust participation from our partners and the public,” said Odell. “Wildlife conservation is very important to the state and input from a wide variety of sources will ensure we have a complete and inclusive plan.”

The federal grants will support conservation efforts aimed at precluding the need to list species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“The goal of the plan is to help keep Colorado’s common species, common,” said Odell.

Currently, Colorado’s State Wildlife Grants amount to approximately $1 million per year. The federal funds go to a variety of wildlife conservation efforts including the purchase of property easements to preserve sage-grouse habitat.

Other efforts funded by the grants include supporting a native fish hatchery, sage-grouse research, bird banding and survey work, amphibian and reptile surveys, small mammal studies, habitat assessments, improvements and restoration, black footed ferret conservation, bat conservation, fish habitat surveys and conservation planning activities.

The deadline to submit the plan to the USFWS for approval is Sept. 30, 2015. Input from partners and the public will be regularly solicited throughout the process.

The CPW website will host the information and the opportunity to provide comments.

For more information go to www.cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/StateWildlifeActionPlanaspx

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