ESA Informational Working Group

The ESA Informational Working Group was established by the WAFWA President and directors. The working group’s approved Statement of Purpose:

“To be developed”

Background

In April 7-9, 2015 a workshop between wildlife departments from 11 western states within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Regions 2 and 6, and two biologists from National Park Service in Denver, Colorado. The workshop was well attended by roughly 60 personnel from most state wildlife agency and USFWS state office. The purpose of the workshop was to collaborate and inform state and USFWS planning actions associated with State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) and ESA listing workload post-Multispecies District Litigation species listing actions, which is due to be completed in 2017.  

This first workshop was designed to share and discuss as a group what we know, what we believe we need, a prioritization of species conservation actions, and how we move forward in addressing the status of the species being evaluated by the USFWS and identified in the SWAPS. The first day, was spent presenting background information on the FWS pending listing workload and the Species Status Assessment process being used by the USFWS. After identifying the workload the group looked at success stories on how stakeholders were able to influence listing decisions by pulling together and analyzing existing information, by investing in new surveys or new science, and by planning and implementing conservation efforts.

The second day was spent in breakout groups by geographic area to figure out the status of existing information on the list of pending species being evaluated by the USFWS, identify any key information gaps/needs, and discuss the benefits from a coordinated conservation effort for various species. The breakout groups and discussions identified a number of conservation action items, and many states volunteered to lead efforts for next steps.

By all accounts,, the workshop was a success. It was a great exchange of information that assisted the USFWS on their pending workload for evaluating ESA listings and for states on prioritizing actions associated with their SWAPs by creating a “binning” process for evaluating the species being considered for the workplan. The states provided very useful information on new science/ conservation efforts that were already being worked on, as well as brainstormed about what new efforts would be useful. 

As a result of this first workshop and continued need to report on progress associated with the USFWS workplan the ESA Informational Workgroup was established by WAFWA. The participants from the workshop became part of the Workgroup (ESAIWG) and continues to be led by the WAFWA Ecosystem and Grassland Initiative Coordinator. Since the workshop, the ESAIWG has been expanded to include other land and wildlife management agencies such as the USDA Forect Service, USGS, BLM and USDA -WS. 

The ESAIWG has agreed to hold quarterly conference calls to update each other on activities and two face-to- face workshops were held in 2017 and 2019. Various species-specific workgroups have been formed and report back to the ESAIWG.

Past Workshops

2015. WAFWA WORKSHOP ON INFLUENCING LISTING DETERMINATIONS With FWS REGIONS 2 & 6, April 7-9, 2015

2017. WAFWA WORKSHOP ON INFLUENCING LISTING DETERMINATIONS With FWS REGIONS 2 & 6, April 26-27, 2017