Posted by WAFWA on April 1, 2020

WAFWA’s Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) and the Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV) have formed a new partnership to advance conservation efforts on both public and private lands for fish, wildlife, and people. This collaborative effort will focus on improving habitat for migratory birds and native trout fisheries through communication. The joined forces of WNTI and IWJV will pave the way for potential conservation projects, partners, funding sources and strategic approaches on the landscape scale.

View the full partnership story HERE

Recently, Oliver Sheridan became the first person under 18 to complete the Western Native Trout Challenge.  The Western Native Trout Challenge was organized by WAFWA’s Western Native Trout Initiative to raise the profile of western native trout species with anglers and others, to showcase conservation work done by state and federal agencies for these fish, and to promote fishing for these species across their native ranges. Numerous partners are promoting the Western Native Trout Challenge, including Orvis, which recently published a story about Sheridan’s accomplishment.

Read the full story from Orvis HERE

By: Cristina Jones, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Tortoises and freshwater turtles are the world’s most endangered vertebrates. Like other wildlife, they are susceptible to traditional threats such as disease, habitat loss/alteration, and invasive species. However, turtles have the added threat of human exploitation, as there is a high demand for turtles in the illicit global trade for pets, food, medicinal markets, and products. Recent headlines have highlighted efforts of wildlife agencies in Florida and Oklahoma making significant arrests and documenting the illegal collection of thousands of native turtles.

Turtles have a suite of life-history traits that are characteristic of slow-to-mature, long-lived organisms — which makes them uniquely quick to decline, and slow to recover. To guide action to conserve our turtle populations, Partners for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation formed a national turtle task team. This team’s priority will be facilitating the coordination and communication between law enforcement and turtle conservation biologists to identify the scope and scale of this issue, develop proactive approaches to reduce the impact, and aide in the repatriation of confiscated turtles in North America. WAFWA’s Annual Meeting in July 2020 in Park City, Utah will include a session highlighting global, national, and local aspects of the illegal turtle trade.

Learn more about the National Turtle Task Team HERE

Since 2013, WAFWA has been implementing two important programs to help conserve the lesser prairie-chicken. The first is the Range-wide Conservation Plan and the second program is a Range-wide Oil and Gas Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) for the lesser prairie chicken. Industry participants who enroll in the CCAA are protected by the CCAA if the lesser prairie-chicken is listed as threatened or endangered in the future. Both programs, the Range-wide Conservation Plan and the Oil and Gas CCAA, are implemented with the close coordination and support of USFWS.

In 2019, after five years of implementing both programs, WAFWA began a review of these programs to assess finances, regulatory compliance, biological effectiveness, and administrative efficiency. The first part of this review was a financial audit of the CCAA program. The audit results were presented to WAFWA’s Board of Directors at WAFWA’s annual summer meeting held in July 2019 in Manhattan, Kansas.

The audit identified a number of issues for WAFWA to address to improve its operational structure and financial management. WAFWA immediately took several actions in response including measures to reduce the cost of administering the CCAA.

In addition, WAFWA hired a consultant with a national reputation in designing and assessing species mitigation programs, to lead the assessment of the compliance and effectiveness of the CCAA. This consultant is currently working closely with WAFWA, USFWS, oil and gas industry participants, and landowners to assess the long-term regulatory assurances and financial sustainability of the CCAA. WAFWA anticipates completing this review by the summer of 2020.

Additional details on the Lesser Prairie-Chicken program can be found HERE.

Just a reminder to check the WAFWA website for event updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic.