Strategic Habitat Plan Annual Report - 2003
Tags: WLCI Agency Report
One of the single greatest challenges facing the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in the 21st century will be our ability to maintain sustainable fish and wildlife populations. This challenge can be met by addressing habitat needs and issues that seek to maintain open spaces, quality habitats and the ability of fish and wildlife to utilize these areas. Many habitat types are imperiled or at-risk. Potential impacts to fish and wildlife habitats are expanding, with some of the most noticeable being energy development, other land uses, and urban sprawl. The long-term drought has caused impacts as well. At the same time, we are being asked to take a far more active role in the conservation of all wildlife species, including many considered to be at-risk. Conserving these species one species at a time is impractical over the long-term. To effectively answer these challenges, there is a great need for the Department to be collaboratively involved in habitat-related decisions at a landscape level on public and private lands throughout Wyoming.
In recognition of this need, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission adopted a strategic habitat plan in 2001. The plan has three goals as follows:
1. Manage, preserve and restore habitat for long -term sustainable management of wildlife populations.
2. Increase wildlife based recreation through habitat enhancements that increase productivity of wildlife.
3. Increase or maintain wildlife habitat and associated recreation on Commission lands.
Each goal is accompanied by a number of objectives and strategies designed to achieve that goal. These goals and strategies were developed by an inter-divisional, inter-disciplinary team, and were designed for implementation collaboratively across division lines. It is of paramount importance that habitat conservation in Wyoming be extended to the landscape level, working collaboratively across organizational lines within and outside the Department, and across political and legal boundaries on the ground.
Implementation of the plan is underway and is being at least partially addressed as reported below. We are approaching habitat conservation based on the land itself and the needs of all the wildlife and people who depend on it. This requires a great deal of teamwork and a broader view of our responsibilities. Plan implementation represents not a reorganization of the past, but a bold step into the future
The purpose of this 2003 annual report is to provide information and documentation to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and other interested parties about the activities of the Terrestrial Habitat, Aquatic Habitat, and the Habitat and Access Maintenance programs of the Department as well as associated portions of the Land Administration program. The report includes actions, activities, and on-the-ground accomplishments of personnel within the four programs toward implementing the strategic habitat plan. One of the additional reporting parameters requested was a compilation of funding sources and expenditures to accomplish the mission and vision of the Strategic Habitat Plan. This was compiled by approximating Department funds from the Trust Fund Account, Walk-In Area Habitat Enhancement Program, maintenance and operation budgets used for habitat development and maintenance less personnel and equipment costs, Farm Bill Program funds that include incentive payments and 10- to 15-year annual rental/lease payments from USDA/NRCS/FSA, funds from other federal or state agencies, funds from non-governmental organizations, and finally funds from private landowners or managers, including in-kind services. In addition, several statewide programs related to the Strategic Habitat Plan are included. These programs involved technical assistance and education for range condition and health relative to livestock and big game grazing and workshops for private landowners and managers, another program for sagebrush management, riparian management and tall forb communities, development of a GIS decision support system for the Department and an effort related to the conservation of prairie stream systems.