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Colorado’s Wildlife Action Plan to undergo review

Mike Porras
Special to The SUN

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has begun a comprehensive review of the State Wildlife Action Plan, or SWAP. As updates to the current vision for managing Colorado’s fish, wildlife and natural habitats go forward, agency officials say input from the public and a variety of partner agencies will be critical for the development of an effective plan.

State Wildlife Action Plans originated in the early 2000s after a coalition of federal and state resource agencies, sportsmen’s groups, conservation groups, non governmental organizations, businesses and private citizens joined in partnership to urge the U.S. Congress to provide State Wildlife Grants for wildlife and habitat conservation. Congress mandated that each state and territory develop their own wildlife action plans in order to be eligible for SWG monies.

Colorado’s original SWAP was submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and approved in 2006.

“We will not be starting from scratch,” said Species Conservation Coordinator Eric Odell of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “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.”

CPW will manage the 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. Go to www.cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/pages/statewildlifeactionplanaspx.

Additionally, those interested in being added to the stakeholder roster should send their email contact information to dnr_swap_input@state.co.us.

For more news about Colorado Parks and Wildlife, go to http://cpw.state.co.us.

This story was posted on May 15, 2014.