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USGS Migrations Report Released, Additional NFWF Funding for Habitat Projects
During an April 7 announcement, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released Ungulate Migrations of the Western United States: Volume 2 and the Department of the Interior and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced funding for this year’s projects within priority big game migration corridors and seasonal habitats in the West. During the announcement Interior Secretary Deb Haaland also confirmed this administration’s commitment to implementing Secretary’s Order 3362 (SO3362) and the importance of conserving and restoring the habitat used by wildlife during their seasonal movements.
“To maintain healthy species populations and ecosystems, fish and wildlife must have the freedom to move and migrate. But as habitats and migration routes continue to be impacted by climate change and become fragmented by roads, fences, energy development, and other man-made barriers, wildlife are struggling to reach the necessary areas to feed, breed, and find shelter,” said Secretary Haaland. “Enhancing wildlife migration corridors and habitat connectivity is a top conservation priority, and we’re committed to cultivating strong partnerships and providing the resources and tools necessary to support healthy wildlife populations across the country.”
The new USGS report provides detailed maps of corridors generated from data collected by states from research projects funded in part through SO3362. Working together through the Corridor Mapping Team, the state and federal agency partners utilized sophisticated models to evaluate the areas used most frequently by migrating ungulates helping to identify priority areas for conservation efforts. Partners have then worked through grants provided by NFWF’s Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big Game Migration Corridors and Habitat Connectivity program to fund these conservation efforts. This year $2.5 million in funding through the grant program was matched by $7 million in partner funds to implement a total of 13 projects.
During her remarks, Secretary Haaland also outlined how the Interior Department will advance its work on wildlife corridors through a number of steps, including:
- Investing in collaborative conservation opportunities to support strategies that advance enduring conservation outcomes. These collaborative efforts will support connected lands, waters, and thriving fish and wildlife populations, reflect local needs and priorities, and improve quality of life for people. This includes continued implementation of Secretary’s Order 3362 through support for state-led science, identification of priority big game migratory habitat, technical assistance, and project implementation to advance conservation of big game species and the sagebrush ecosystem.
- Prioritizing research, data collection, analysis, and mapping to identify key habitats, including seasonal ranges, stopover areas, migration routes, and bottlenecks.
- Collaborating with and supporting Tribal partners to conduct new wildlife migration movement studies and associated mapping as well as use existing migration data to enhance Tribal wildlife corridor and habitat connectivity priorities. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be committing $450,000 in new funds to the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society to support training for Tribal conservation initiatives.
- Updating agency policies, where appropriate, to identify and prioritize conservation and restoration of wildlife corridors as well as other lands and waters that advance habitat connectivity in partnership with state and Tribal wildlife managers and other stakeholders.