Monthly Archives: May 2013

What is the California State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP)?

The SWAP is a plan for conserving California’s fish and wildlife (collectively referred to as wildlife) resources  while responding to environmental challenges. The SWAP examines the health of wildlife and prescribes actions to conserve wildlife and vital habitat before they become rare and more costly to protect. The plan also promotes wildlife conservation while furthering responsible development and addressing the needs of a growing human population. See an overview of State Wildlife Action Plans: Defining a Vision for Conservation Success.

Through the California SWAP, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) seeks to conserve the resources in the nation’s most biologically diverse state. CDFW’s goal is to create a flexible but scientific process to respond to changing challenges, including population growth, the need for  renewable energy, and global climate change. CDFW endeavors to make best use of limited resources while developing lasting partnerships and increasing public participation in the conservation and management of California’s valued natural resources.

The initial SWAP was published in 2005. The then-California Department of Fish and Game, working in partnership with the Plan development team at the University of California, Davis, directed the development of the 2005 report, California Wildlife: Conservation Challenges (Bunn et al 2005), and associated Web publications.


2015 Update Process

As required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, states must review and, if necessary, revise their Wildlife Action Plan by October 1, 2015, and every ten years afterwards, unless completed more frequently at each state’s discretion. The update process will allow CDFW to integrate new information, identify opportunities for partnerships, and leverage more funding for conservation of species and habitats.

Since approval of SWAP2005, several new initiatives have or will be completed in California affecting strategies and priorities for managing the State’s natural resources. These initiatives include but are not limited to the following:

  • Completion of the Natural Resources Agency’s 2009 and 2012 Climate Change Adaptation Strategies;
  • Completion of the 2013 National Fish, Wildlife and Plant Climate Adaptation Strategy;
  • The California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project;
  • Completion of Phase II of the Areas of Conservation Emphasis Mapping Model;
  • Updates to the Species of Special Concern (SSC) reports for birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and freshwater fish;
  • Full implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act;
  • Development of a large-scale conservation planning effort in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Rivers Delta (Bay Delta Conservation Plan),
  • Development of a large-scale conservation planning effort in the southern California deserts region (Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan);
  • The California Fish and Wildlife Strategic Vision Plan; and
  • Adoption of the Department’s Policy for Quality in Science and Key Elements of Scientific Work.

Initiatives by other agencies and nonprofit organizations equally provide potential benefits and guidance for management of natural resources statewide including the California State Water Plan Update 2009, and the California Forest and Rangelands: 2010 Assessment. Significant recent changes to the environment have also been documented as likely resulting from climate change including sea level rise, animal and vegetative community shifts, increased prevalence of invasive species, increased duration and intensity of wild fire, and prolonged drought. These climate-induced stresses to wildlife, in combination with previously known threats, have the potential to greatly affect management strategies for wildlife species and habitats.

Update Approach

The update will use an ecosystem approach to manage California’s diverse habitat and species, creating a blueprint for conservation actions and a flexible process for responding to the highest priorities. Most importantly, the update will identify initiatives needed to conserve species and habitats on an ecoregional, watershed or marine study region scale with effective, measurable, and time-bound actions. While many of these actions will be direct on-the-ground activities, priorities for enhancing partnerships and increasing public awareness and involvement will be a significant part of the plan.

Preparing the update for California is a demanding task. Conflicting interests and priorities among diverse stakeholders, coupled with the complexity of our biological resources demands a collaboration that invites involvement of all interested parties. CDFW is committed to developing a plan that serves the needs of the people of California to maintain its rich and diverse natural resource base.


Update Timeline

The SWAP 2015 update will be accomplished in 3 phases. Phase 1 includes development and update of data needed to support the informational needs of the plan. Staff training on the tools to create the Plan will be conducted.

Phase 2 includes development of a vision for wildlife and habitat conservation in California that is scientific, appealing, and relevant to the people of California in terms of how it will benefit them. The 2005 Plan will be reviewed to determine what new information and initiatives have been developed since 2005. Climate change effects and other projections based on the best scientific information available will be incorporated into ecoregional, watershed, marine and statewide analyses for assessing threats and developing strategies that will aid species adaptation to climate induced stresses. Ecoregion goals and actions will be developed as well as conservation actions that can be implemented and monitored for effectiveness, using the principles of adaptive management.

Phase 3 includes the development of companion plans specifically focused on activities conducted by public and private land managers that have compatible benefits for fish and wildlife. Companion plans will be developed for Agriculture, Consumptive and Recreational Uses, Energy Development, Forest and Rangelands, Land Use Planning, Transportation Planning, Tribal Lands, and Water Use and Management.

CDFW teams are currently working on creating draft conservation strategies for habitats and their resident species of greatest conservation need (Phase 2). The draft Plan is expected to be available in early 2014 with plan completion targeted for the Summer of 2015. View the complete project timeline.

Public Participation Opportunities

Public participation is key to developing an effective SWAP. CDFW is committed to involving partners early in the process and using traditional and technological innovations to engage the public at all important decision points.

The public will be actively engaged through stakeholder outreach, scoping and document review. There will be two public scoping opportunities; the first will invite input from the public and stakeholders on the draft strategies developed for ecoregions, watersheds, and the marine environment. The second will provide the public with the opportunity to provide input on the draft document itself, prior to its final publishing.

The initial public scoping meetings are being planned for October and November 2013 in eleven locations throughout the state. Locations include: Eureka, Redding, Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Monterey, Fresno, San Luis Obispo, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and San Diego. Dates and locations will be posted to the SWAP website when confirmed.