Check out these FAQs to learn more about a Wildlife Action Plan
What does Congress require in a Wildlife Action Plan?
- Information on the distribution and abundance of wildlife species, including low and declining populations as the state fish and wildlife agency deems appropriate, that are indicative of the diversity and health of the state's wildlife.
- Descriptions of locations and relative condition of key habitats and community types essential to conservation of the species identified in (1).
- Descriptions of problems which may adversely affect species identified in (1) or their habitats, and priority research and survey efforts needed to identify factors which may assist in restoration and improved conservation of these species and habitats.
- Descriptions of conservation actions proposed to conserve the identified species and habitats and priorities for implementing such actions.
- Proposed plans for monitoring species identified in (1) and their habitats, for monitoring the effectiveness of the conservation actions proposed in (4), and for adapting these conservation actions to respond appropriately to new information or changing conditions.
- Descriptions of procedures to review the strategy at intervals not to exceed ten years.
- Plans for coordinating the development, implementation, review, and revision of the plan with federal, state and local agencies and Indian tribes that manage significant land and water areas within the state or administer programs that significantly effect the conservation of identified species and habitats.
- Inclusion of broad public participation as an essential element of developing and implementing these plans.
How was the Wildlife Action Plan developed?
The Action Plan was created by pooling the knowledge of the people who know Vermont's wildlife best - the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and the representatives of more than 60 local, state and national agencies, sportsmen and conservation groups, academics, land managers and other wildlife experts.
What makes the Wildlife Action Plan different from other plans?
Two things: money and scale:
Money: Unlike most planning efforts, the Wildlife Action Plan comes with implementation funding through the State Wildlife Grants program. Since 2001 Vermont has received $400,000 to $660,000/year in State Wildlife Grant funds.
Scale: The Wildlife Action Plan is an all species strategy for any and all individuals and entities interested in wildlife in Vermont, not just the Fish & Wildlife Department. In addition, Action plans have been produced by every state and territory to address a broad diversity of wildlife and habitats. Collectively, they are the first nationwide vision for wildlife conservation.
Who is responsible for Vermont's Wildlife Action Plan?
Since the Fish & Wildlife Department is mandated to protect Vermont's wildlife, Congress has designated VFWD as Wildlife Action Plan custodians, giving them responsibility for delivering the revised Action Plan by the October 1, 2015 deadline. However, the wildlife of Vermont is a public resource. Other agencies, organizations and citizens assisted in developing the Action Plan and it is important that they actively help in implementing it.
What does the Wildlife Action Plan mean for non-governmental conservation organizations?
One outcome of the planning process has been the creation of a blueprint for wildlife conservation in Vermont. This blueprint is be based on the statewide distribution and abundance of species, and the threats to their continued existence. In this way the Action Plan should be useful to conservation organizations regardless of their individual goals. A coordinated plan increases the efficiency and effectiveness of all conservation efforts. Additionally, Action Plan implementation should strengthen existing conservation partnerships in Vermont and facilitate the creation of new partnerships.
Which wildlife species are considered the focus of the Wildlife Action Plan?
Congress expects that primary benefit of State Wildlife Grants funds and Action Plan implementation should go to wildlife that haven't already benefited from other federal wildlife conservation and management programs. Congress refers to these species as "Species of Greatest Conservation Need" (SGCN) and left it to each state to define just what it means to be a "species of greatest conservation need" and to identify them.
Criteria used to develop Vermont's list SGCN included species rarity, species designated as at-risk, species whose habitat is vulnerable to loss, fragmentation, conversion or succession and those threatened by exotic plants or animals.
What is the State Wildlife Grants Program (SWG)?
State Wildlife Grant program funds are allocated to the states according to a formula that takes into account each state's size and population. Since its inception in 2001 Vermont has received $400,000 to $660,000/year in SWG funds.
What's does the State Wildlife Grants program mean for Vermont?
State Wildlife Grant program funds are allocated to the states according to a formula that takes into account each state's size and population. Over the past four years, state fish and wildlife agencies have received or become eligible for more than $195 million to help species with the greatest conservation needs. Vermont has received or become eligible for more than $2.5 million since 2001.
How has Vermont used its State Wildlife Grant funds?
State Wildlife Grants have funded close to 100 program and projects in Vermont including: conservation research and recovery planning for spruce grouse, lake sturgeon, turtles, bats and freshwater mussels; terrestrial and aquatic habitat assessments; bird and butterfly atlases; a manual for town conservation planning.
In many cases, these projects represent the first time such species and habitats have been examined, studied or surveyed by professionally trained fish and wildlife biologists.
Why does Vermont need State Wildlife Grants funds?
State fish and wildlife agencies have a great record of success restoring and conserving fish and wildlife species. Hunter and angler license fees and federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment have funded the bulk of this work over the past decades. As a result, conservation and restoration efforts have concentrated on (but not been limited to) game species. For example, well before Vermont's non-game program existed, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department purchased the historic peregrine falcon nesting site at Bird Mountain initiating a successful peregrine recovery effort.
There has always been a serious lack of funding for those species that are not hunted or fished. State Wildlife Grants funds help Vermont and other states address the needs of those species for which little funding has been available.
One goal of the SWG program to help conserve wildlife before they become endangered because it is much easier and less expensive to prevent wildlife populations from declining than it is to bring a species back from the brink of extinction.
Will State Wildlife Grants (SWG) funding force the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department to spend more time managing non-game, and less time on game wildlife?
No. Vermont's hunters and anglers have funded conservation for more than 100 years. Their support is vital to the ongoing efforts to manage game species. Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department will not shift its focus off of game species.
Instead the SWG funds are helping broaden our capacity to conserve fish and wildlife. Because the program focuses on community interactions and processes, both game and non-game species will benefit from the habitat improvements and other management actions funded by State Wildlife Grants.
What happens if Congress doesn't continue the State Wildlife Grants program?
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is committed to fulfilling its mission to conserve and manage all of Vermont's fish and wildlife. A lack of funding would clearly hurt VFWD's efforts to address the management of species with the greatest conservation needs. This could accelerate the decline of some species and result in even more expensive listings under the federal Endangered Species Act.
What does Vermont have to do to get the funding?
To be eligible to continue receiving State Wildlife Grants program funds, Vermont, like all other states, committed to revising its Wildlife Action Plan by October 2015.
How does Congress define "wildlife" for the purposes of the State Wildlife Grants program?
The term wildlife means "any species of wild, free-ranging fauna including aquatic species and invertebrates as well as native fauna in captive breeding programs intended for reintroduction within its previously occupied range."
Flora (plant) conservation is not eligible for use of State Wildlife Grants Program funding but Vermont's Wildlife Action Plan will include plants. Plant conservation actions will be supported with other funding sources.
What activities are eligible for funding under State Wildlife Grants Program?
States must use SWG allocations to fund the development and implementation of programs that benefit wildlife and their habitat, including species that are not hunted or fished. All activities that meet these criteria are eligible for funding with two exceptions; education and wildlife law enforcement activities are currently not eligible for funding. Consistent with the law, priority for use of these funds should be placed on those species with the greatest conservation need and taking into consideration the relative level of funding available for the conservation of those species.
Can a State use State Wildlife Grants to fund wildlife-associated recreation projects?
What does the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department consider to be its greatest challenge to comply State Wildlife Grant requirements?
State Wildlife Grants requires the states to provide matching funds. When the Fish & Wildlife Department accepts a $400,000 grant, it provides at least $215,000 in non-federal match. This is an increasingly difficult proposition.
If SWG is to provide the long-term benefits it is capable of delivering, Vermont, like every other state, must find new ways to expand participation in, and financial support for, fish and wildlife conservation. One method is to develop partnerships with other agencies and conservation organizations. This will allow VFWD to share SWG funds, meet the match requirements AND conserve more wildlife.