Nevada Wildlife Action Plan
By the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
With the help of experts from all taxonomic fields, Nevada’s Wildlife Action Plan identifies a total of 263 species of conservation priority, including 72 bird species, 49 mammal species, 40 fish species, 20 reptiles, seven amphibians, 74 gastropods, and one bivalve. GIS and documented occurrences of wildlife species within Nevada’s landscapes were used to identify key areas essential to the conservation of fish and wildlife species.
Using data derived from the Southwest Regional Gap Analysis Project, the Plan organizes the various ecological systems of the state into 27 key habitat types. Multi-level strategies were devised for these 27 key habitats that integrate conservation needs for species categories, as well as for individual species.
Each strategy describes the habitats, their values to wildlife, land uses within the habitat, and problems facing the species and habitats. This information provides support to the goals, objectives and actions that follow. The Plan was derived from objectives and actions in existing conservation plans, where available, and supplements them with new strategies, where necessary, in consultation with species experts and conservation partners.
Drafts of the strategies underwent extensive expert review. Each strategy includes a list of key conservation partners, programs and projects likely to fulfill the objectives for each key habitat, and each identifies preliminary focal areas for action through an intuitive process involving coordination with partners and concurrent planning processes.
Among the 50 states, Nevada ranks eleventh in overall biological diversity, sixth in number of endemic species, third in number of species at risk and eleventh in the number of species extinctions. The federal government administers 86% of Nevada’s land base.
Primary Challenges to Conserving Wildlife in Nevada
Nevada is uniquely challenged in developing effective wildlife conservation programs in part because of its arid climate, geography and relative scarcity of water resources, which has created a unique endemic biota easily subject to threats and stressors. Throughout Nevada, water is a scarce and valuable resource essential for both human needs and maintenance of wildlife and their habitats. Consequently, the alteration of hydrologic resources is a significant source of stress to wildlife resources. Nevada is also one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, with human population creating a need for additional development into open space, causing habitat loss. Invasive, exotic and feral species are one of the most critical problems facing both terrestrial and aquatic species and habitats in Nevada.
One of the most critical ecological processes threatening wildlife conservation in Nevada today is the rapid conversion, due to wildfire, of sagebrush, Mojave and shadscale shrub habitats to invasive annual grasses and forbs. The invasion of such aggressive species as cheatgrass, red brome and medusa head subjects rangelands to much more frequent fire cycles for which the exotic species are better adapted. Over time, these more frequent burn patterns select against native vegetation, eventually achieving permanent type conversion. Each year that action to re-seed with appropriate seed mixes is not taken, more native rangeland will be burned by wildfire and exposed to extreme risk of invasion by exotic grasses and forbs. Fire rehabilitation at the scale needed is expensive, however, and many of the techniques for success are still being formulated.
Working Together for Nevada’s Wildlife
To develop the Nevada Wildlife Action Plan, the Nevada Department of Wildlife partnered with the Nature Conservancy’s Nevada Chapter, the Lahontan Audubon Society, and the Nevada Natural Heritage Program. A grant from the Nevada Division of State Land’s Question One Conservation Bond program was awarded to assemble Nevada’s Wildlife Action Plan.
Public involvement and partnership development was facilitated throughout all development phases of the Plan. Open house meetings and focus group workshops were held across the state in order to get input and advice from the broadest possible array of conservation partners, including Federal and state resource agencies, county governments, tribal, sportsmen’s and environmental groups, conservation organizations and others. In all, more than 150 individuals representing over 60 organizations attended the open houses and workshops.
A final partnership group including members from the Governor’s Sage Grouse Conservation Team was convened. This group developed a set of guiding principles for the plan-writing team to consider while preparing the draft plan. Nevada’s Wildlife Action Plan Team stayed in close contact, and coordinated with Federal land management agencies and tribal governments throughout the development of the Plan.
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents all of North America’s fish and wildlife agencies, promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a unified voice on important fish and wildlife issues.