DOI Releases Progress Report on Implementation of Migration Corridor and Winter Range Order

DOI Releases Progress Report on Implementation of Migration Corridor and Winter Range Order

On August 12, the Department of the Interior released a progress report outlining the progress that has been made over the past two years on the implementation of Secretarial Order 3362, “Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors.” The release notes that since 2018, the DOI and its partners have facilitated 73 projects across 11 states with more than $47 million being invested from federal and matching grants in state-identified priority research projects, data analysis and mapping assistance, habitat-related projects, and other activities.

According to the introduction of the report: “The Department’s role in implementation stems from its management responsibility for millions of acres of land across the West, strong scientific and technical capabilities, and ability to bring forward other resources to help facilitate wildlife habitat conservation activities across multiple states. The Order is focused on conserving, enhancing, restoring, or improving the condition of priority big game winter range and migration corridor habitat. Ultimately, the habitat conservation activities resulting from the implementation of the Order will provide positive benefits to big game populations and numerous other wildlife species.”

The report outlines the vision of implementing the landscape-level conservation efforts using the approach that has been effectively applied by the migratory bird joint ventures. The overall implementation of the order was focused on voluntary, nonregulatory conservation efforts, particularly when working with private landowners. The department worked with state fish and wildlife agencies to direct significant research funding to help identify the highest priority areas, and facilitated grant funding for states and partner organizations to direct conservation activities in these priority corridor and winter range areas. The report then walks through each specific directive found in the order and outlines the actions taken to meet that directive. It concludes by outlining the future actions that are necessary to build on the momentum that has grown behind these conservation efforts. Partners in the conservation community offered their appreciation for how S.O. 3362 has been implemented.

“The Mule Deer Foundation appreciates the last two years of hard work and partnership with the Department of the Interior as they have implemented S.O. 3362 on big game migration corridors and seasonal habitats. The report released today gives a clear indication of the tremendous progress that has resulted from agency staff and partners focusing on this key issue – this would not have happened without the leadership from the Secretary and his staff,” said Mule Deer Foundation President & CEO Miles Moretti. “Conservation of migration corridors and seasonal habitats is essential to the health of western mule deer populations and the increased attention on these needs will make a difference for years to come. This is good for mule deer hunters, but it is also important to the long-term conservation of these icons of the West. Moving forward, we anticipate learning more about mule deer migration patterns through the research that has been funded through S.O. 3362 and to use that information to target the conservation efforts that have only just begun through this initiative.”

August 17, 2020