ON THE HORIZON: June 2017, Issue 6

Posted by WAFWA on June 1, 2017
Work to conserve sagebrush lands and the species that depend on them is currently proceeding on several fronts. Together with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), WAFWA has assembled a diverse group of stakeholders to guide the development of a collaborative Sagebrush Conservation Strategy and is moving ahead. A science framework for the strategy is in development, as are processes to engage and involve stakeholders in development of conservation strategies. With federal dollars from the FWS and BLM, WAFWA has funded six projects to provide science support for the conservation strategy and is reviewing 23 additional proposals for potential funding. A request for proposal for human dimensions/social sciences information to better inform inputting human needs into the strategy is expected later this summer following a gap analysis workshop to identify critical needs.

WAFWA and a myriad of partners, including Audubon, FWS and the Intermountain West Joint Venture recognized early on that increasing communications about the importance of, and need to mitigate threats to sagebrush would be critical to sagebrush conservation. SageWest, a new sagebrush communications network, is pulling together communicators from agencies and organizations that have a stake in the sagebrush ecosystem. A communications framework has been developed to coordinate and complement efforts and a meeting of communicators in early June in Denver will further refine communication efforts. A Texas Panhandle meeting and field trip organized this spring for regional field staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) highlighted efforts on public and private land to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken. FWS officials met with WAFWA staff and representatives of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative Council in Lubbock on April 17. The following day, the group toured the Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff to observe on-the-ground conservation efforts on state land, and also toured a nearby private ranch that is under a term conservation agreement with WAFWA. The group was treated to the inspiring sight of booming lesser prairie-chickens on two leks, saw plenty of other wildlife and they were all encouraged by what they saw. “One word sums up the day: awesome!” said Benjamin Tuggle, regional director for the USFWS Southwest Region. “I am sure that through our continued collaboration and communications we will strengthen our partnership and foster additional opportunities for conservation in the Great Plains.”
  The landscape-scale conservation work currently underway for lesser prairie-chickens in five western states is massive in scale and complex in scope. To help people understand what it’s all about, WAFWA has recently launched new “story maps” to explain different elements of the plan and how it all comes together. The interactive site is easy to navigate and provides detail in easy to understand terms.Learn More The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) and its partners are once again offering opportunities for community organizations to tap into dollars to restore or recover western native trout in the rivers, lakes and watersheds where they are found. The 2017 Small Grants Program Request for Proposals will be accepting applications until June 16, 2017. WNTI is an initiative of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and a recognized National Fish Habitat Partnership that seeks to cooperatively restore and recover 21 western native trout and char species and sub-species across their historic range.Read More If the fish fits, wear it! Thanks to a collaborative partnership with RepYourWater, you can now purchase a different hat for all 21 species of western native trout and char that the Western Native Trout Initiative represents. We hope this unique offering will promote pride in our native trout species and an interest in where they live. A percentage of the proceeds from hat sales will support on-the-ground habitat conservation projects in all 12 states where WNTI works.SEE HATS