Hunters & anglers celebrate the development of a statewide wildlife connectivity plan
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced the creation of a new Nevada Habitat Conservation Framework to conserve, restore, and rehabilitate the Silver State’s sagebrush habitat. One of the key components of this initiative is the development of a Wildlife Connectivity Plan that will “identify and conserve migratory [big game] corridors.”
The Nevada Department of Wildlife, with input from stakeholders such as conservation groups, private landowners, and tribal communities, will identify and delineate migration corridors and seasonal habitats using the best-available science. As a result, these areas will receive much-needed special consideration in the land-use planning process.
“This plan recognizes the urgent need to ensure Nevada’s big game populations can continue to move across the landscape and access the seasonal habitats they need to survive,” said Carl Erquiaga, field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “By working together, we can come up with a plan to restore and connect critical habitat for mule deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep. We thank Governor Sisolak for his continued focus on conservation issues that support our rural economies.”
According to a poll conducted last year by the research firm FM3 for the Pew Charitable Trusts, more than 93% of registered voters in Nevada supported the implementation of new conservation measures to protect wildlife migration corridors.
Sagebrush habitat covers more than 50 percent of the Silver State and sustains an outdoor recreation economy generating more than $12.5 billion in annual consumer spending and supporting 87,000 jobs. More than 367 species of plants and animals rely on the sagebrush ecosystem, which is considered one of the most imperiled in the U.S. These habitats are also essential to the functionality of Nevada’s big game migration corridors, allowing for healthy populations of mule deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep.
With so much of Nevada’s landscape managed by federal agencies, successful implementation of Sisolak’s executive order will necessitate coordination with the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service, specifically their incorporation of big game migration science and data into land management plans and decisions. In June, the TRCP released a report highlighting opportunities for federal land managers in Nevada and across the West to do just that.
Fortunately, Nevada’s new executive order comes at a time when the Biden-led Departments of the Interior and Agriculture are shaping their next steps for migration corridor conservation, which was highlighted as a priority in the May 2021 report Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful. The Interior Department began partnering with Western states on the issue in 2018 when then-Secretary Ryan Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3362. Sportsmen and sportswomen see considerable opportunity for the federal agencies to build upon these early successes to ensure meaningful and durable habitat conservation.
“Nevada’s Habitat Conservation Framework could help pave the way for increased partnership between the Nevada Department of Wildlife and federal agencies, like the Bureau of Land Management which is responsible for overseeing 48 million acres in Nevada,” said Madeleine West, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s public lands program. “We are hopeful that federal land managers will increase their focus and investment in migration conservation across the West. Doing so is critical to conserving and restoring the important habitats that sustain the region’s storied big game herds and hunting traditions.
To read a copy of the Governor’s Executive Order click HERE.