Strategic Habitat Plan Annual Report - 2011
Publication Date: 2011
Tags: WLCI Agency Report
Maintaining sustainable fish and wildlife populations in the face of complex and competing demands is one of the fundamental challenges facing the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission (WGFC) and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD). Biologists, conservationists, land managers and private landowners have long recognized that habitat is key to answering the challenge. However, except for ownership and management of WGFC-held lands, the WGFC has no statutory authority for protecting, restoring or enhancing fisheries or wildlife habitat. Since the management of fish and wildlife is inseparable from the habitat that sustains it, we must work in concert with private landowners and public land managers, conservation organizations, elected officials, local, state and federal governmental agencies and the public. These partnerships are crucial to maintaining abundant fish and wildlife populations now and into the future.
The list of habitat-related issues that influence Wyoming‟s fish and wildlife populations seems to grow every year. Maintaining functional, productive and connected habitats on a landscape scale in the face of energy development, drought and traditional land uses such as agricultural and human development has been an ongoing theme. Add potential climate-induced changes to vegetative communities and cascading changes in suitability for resident and invasive species and the importance of achieving habitat gains or even maintaining functional conditions becomes ever more apparent.
The WGFD has positioned itself to address habitat issues by assigning habitat-related duties to personnel in multiple Divisions and regions and developing, in 2001, its first Strategic Habitat Plan (SHP). The SHP was updated and revised and accepted by the WGFC in 2009 (see inside cover). The mission of the revised SHP is to “Promote and maintain the availability of high quality habitat to sustain and enhance wildlife populations in the future.” This plan focuses on a range of landscape scales with an emphasis on the processes that underlie high quality habitat. By this perspective, it promotes approaches and priorities to conserve and enhance all wildlife species and is consistent with the parallel planning effort encompassed by the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP).
Our goals can be simply and generally summarized as: maintaining high quality existing habitats (goal 1), addressing issues on degraded habitats (goal 2), remembering the value of local enhancements for fish and wildlife populations (goal 3), communicating effectively with the public on habitat issues (goal 4) and working effectively with myriad partners (goal 5). An important component of this SHP and WGFD- habitat efforts is the recognition of wildlife habitats that are “crucial” for wildlife under goal 1 and those habitats that have been degraded and have potential for “enhancement” under goal 2. Crucial priority areas for maintaining habitat values and enhancement priority areas for addressing habitat issues were identified when the SHP was revised in 2009. The priority areas also include WGFC managed lands.
This is the tenth annual report for the WGFC, elected officials, governmental agencies, the public and our conservation partners since the first SHP report in 2001. The purpose of this report is to highlight the 2011 activities and SHP accomplishments of the Terrestrial Habitat, Aquatic Habitat and Habitat and Access programs of the WGFD, as well as associated portions of the Lands Administration, Water Management, Information, Education and Publications and the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI). It is structured to reflect accomplishments and work activities as they relate to achieving SHP goals, which are referenced in project titles throughout the report. Many other WGFD personnel from all Divisions and Sections were involved in many aspects of the habitat program. Their involvement is critical to accomplishments reported herein.