Outdoors

State updating plan for wildlife facing greatest conservation needs

The Cascade red fox is one of 268 fish and wildlife species identified in the state’s wildlife action plan. The state is working on an update of the plan, which looks at the species in Washington facing the greatest conservation needs.
The Cascade red fox is one of 268 fish and wildlife species identified in the state’s wildlife action plan. The state is working on an update of the plan, which looks at the species in Washington facing the greatest conservation needs. Staff file, 2011

The public can comment on updates to the state wildlife action plan, which identifies 268 fish and wildlife species with the greatest conservation needs in the state.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is accepting comments through Sept. 11 on the plan that also describes the key risks to those species and conservation measures designed to ensure their long-term survival, according to an agency news release.

“This updated plan is designed to guide agency priorities, research efforts and conservation actions over the next decade,” Penny Becker, wildlife diversity manager, said in the release. “It will also qualify our state to continue receiving federal grants aimed at conserving fish and wildlife species at risk of decline.”

States are required to develop wildlife action plans and update them every 10 years to qualify for State Wildlife Grants, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Becker said.

The draft plan includes species fact sheets for each species, including the Mazama pocket gopher, Cascade red fox, gray wolf, Harelquin duck, greater sage grouse, Western toad, canary rockfish, white sturgeon, steelhead in Puget Sound and monarch butterfly.

The fact sheet identifies the threatened status of the species; information on its habitat, distribution, life history and abundance; and threats to the species’ survival.

The department developed the state’s first plan — then called a comprehensive wildlife conservation plan — in 2005. Since then, the state has received approximately $1.2 million in state wildlife grants for conservation activities each year, she said.

That 2005 plan identified 186 species of greatest conservation need, 44 percent less than the draft plan now under consideration. The biggest jump was invertebrates, which grew from 42 listings to 95, a 226 percent increase. Conversely, 34 species on the 2005 list were not included in the draft, including the Stellar sea lion and the pileated woodpecker.

Projects supported by those funds include restoring habitat for the greater sage grouse in Eastern Washington and reintroducing the native fisher on the Olympic Peninsula.

“A major goal of the federal wildlife grants is to help states keep common species common,” Becker said in the release. “That is also a key goal of our state action plan.”

GET INVOLVED

THE PLAN: The draft of the plan is online at wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/cwcs, along with instructions for submitting comments.

WEBINAR: Department staff will provide an overview of the plan during an online session Aug. 20. Registration information on the webinar is available on the website.

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