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.
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.