Utah Wildlife Action Plan

By the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

To create its wildlife action plan, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources forged an on-going public-private partnership from the beginning of the process that will continue through plan implementation. Planners used the best science and knowledge available to document the status and condition of species and habitats, identify and understand threats, develop effective responses and initiate monitoring assessments. The plan serves as a foundation for cooperative conservation efforts.

Management

Federal agencies manage over two-thirds of Utah’s land base. An innovative coalition, the Utah Partners for Conservation and Development, is working to resolve issues like introduced non-native species and apply best management practices to address changes to wildlife communities associated with agriculture, mining, and urban development.

Wildlife Highlights

Approximately 700 species of wildlife and thousands of species of insects inhabit Utah. Almost 250 species of birds use habitats within the Great Salt Lake environment alone. The Great Salt Lake supports colonies of rare birds, such as the American pelican, while other species that visit the lake are salt water specialists that rely upon the unique life forms in and around the lake.

Primary Challenges to Conserving Wildlife in Utah

Utah identified many threats to species of conservation need and to the top wildlife habitats in the state, including development, stream channelization, environmental contamination, habitat loss, invasive species, fire cycle alteration, and human disturbance.

Habitat loss

With a rapidly urbanizing population, prime agricultural lands with high wildlife values are being subdivided and developed along the Wasatch Front and Back. Additional habitat loss occurs from road and trail expansion, energy development, transmission corridors, and surface mining.

Fire cycle alteration

Though fire suppression and the resulting lack of disturbance degrade habitat for many wildlife species, increased fire frequency and intensity caused by certain invasive, non-native plant species, such as cheatgrass, also pose a habitat threat. In the shrubsteppe rangelands, drought has created a precipitous drop in winter forage in northeastern and southeastern Utah for both wildlife (such as greater sagegrouse, pygmy rabbits and mule deer) and livestock.

Working Together for Utah’s Wildlife

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) recognized that a successful wildlife action plan required the insights and input of a coalition of Utahns. To develop the plan, the Division encouraged participation among interest groups and solicited input into proposed actions for wildlife enhancement and land management, particularly through the Utah Partnership for Conservation and Development. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources gave presentations across the state over an eight-month period, initiating more than 50 dialogs with strategy partners like The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and the Utah Anglers Coalition. Such collaboration has resulted in not only informed partners and stakeholders, but shared resources, agendas and projects as well.

 

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.

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