A key element of the SWAP 2015 Update is broad public participation. Thirteen public scoping meetings have been scheduled throughout the state. Public input is being sought to ensure the Update is adequately and appropriately identifying threats and stresses to habitats – and that the draft conservation strategies address those threats and stresses.
Twelve public meetings have been conducted so far – in Sacramento, Long Beach, San Diego, Palm Desert, Fresno, San Luis Obispo, Bishop, San Leandro, Santa Rosa, Tahoe, Redding, and Eureka. A final meeting is scheduled for December 3rd in Sacramento. All but San Luis Obispo and the second Sacramento meetings are being held in the evening to accommodate those who work during the day. The original schedule included eleven meetings; Tahoe and the second Sacramento meeting were added in response to participants’ requests.
Each meeting starts with an overview of the State Wildlife Action Plan – with sufficient time allocated to answer questions about the Update. Following the overview are presentations by CDFW regional scientists on habitats germane to the location of the meeting. Each meeting will highlight different regional habitats. Individual agendas can be found on the SWAP website Meetings page. The agendas list the habitats that will be discussed at each meeting. Adequate time for Q&A is provided after each presentation. A poster session follows the regional presentations. CDFW staff are available to explain the detailed posters and answer your questions.
Public comments are being solicited on the draft conservation strategies. CDFW wants your input – is anything missing? Are there any gaps? Did they properly identify the key conservation factors of the habitat of interest? What do you like about the approach being taken? Because of the technical nature of the topic, comments are requested in writing, so nothing is mischaracterized. Options include filling out the comment form at the meeting, mailing in the comment form provided at the meeting or submitting comments via email to: SWAP@wildlife.ca.gov.
The scoping meetings to date have been well attended. Great questions have been asked and answered. Some attendees have even signed up to help draft a Companion Plan. Some of the more frequently asked questions include:
Q: Why spend the money to create a State Wildlife Action Plan?
A: The SWAP is required by U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) to qualify for funding. Over the past 10 years, CDFW has received more than $32 million from USFWS to fund research and restoration projects to preserve the diversity of California’s wildlife. These projects benefit our wildlife before they become scarce and more costly to protect.
Q: The 2005 SWAP was focused on protecting species. Why is Update 2015 focusing on habitats instead of species?
A: Conservation strategies for the Update 2015 are focused on preserving, protecting and enhancing habitats – on the assumption that dependent species will thrive as their habitat thrives.
Q: Will the SWAP reduce access to public lands?
A: No. As conservation strategies are implemented, habitats on public lands will thrive making the public experience on public lands more enjoyable. Fish and wildlife will be happier too.
Q: Will SWAP force me to alter the way I manage my land?
A: No. SWAP has no regulatory authority. It may suggest ways to alter the implementation or timing of management activities that will then benefit wildlife while not affecting current practices, but SWAP seeks voluntary public-private partnerships to achieve its goals.