Report outlines strategies and policy recommendations to safeguard migration corridors
In Colorado today, Governor Jared Polis announced the release of a report highlighting the need for new policy to conserve the state’s big game populations and the variety of habitats on which they depend for their survival.
Opportunities to Improve Sensitive Habitat and Movement Route Connectivity for Colorado’s Big Game Species, which was developed by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Department of Transportation, marks yet another step forward on this issue resulting from Governor Polis’s 2019 executive order, Conserving Colorado’s Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors.
“This document is the product of two years of leadership by Governor Polis and his agencies to conserve big game migration corridors and seasonal habitats across Colorado,” said Madeleine West, director of the Center for Public Lands for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It clearly lines out the next steps necessary to conserve our big game populations, acknowledging both the important roles of a broad set of state agencies, as well as those of federal public land management agencies, private landowners, and nongovernmental organizations. We look forward to working collaboratively with all of these stakeholders to implement the report’s recommendations.”
In the report, the governor calls for a comprehensive approach to improving habitat for Colorado’s iconic big game species, such as elk, mule deer, and pronghorn, including the development of a statewide habitat and connectivity plan that would clearly define priority landscapes in the state that support big game and other wildlife species. The report builds upon a 2020 Colorado Parks and Wildlife publication, Status Report: Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors, which assessed the challenges and threats facing these important habitats.
Other recommendations in the report include:
- Development of a statewide conservation and recreation plan that balances the need to expand recreational opportunities with wildlife conservation values, including the conservation of wildlife routes and priority habitats for big game.
• Encouraging the Colorado General Assembly to create dedicated funding for transportation projects that conserve wildlife populations and protect human health.
- Support for new staff at CPW and CDOT to continue collaborative work between the two agencies to conserve wildlife corridors and limit wildlife-vehicle collisions.
- Direction to CDNR and CPW to work with the Bureau of Land Management to initiate a statewide resource management plan amendment to conserve big game migration corridors, as well as a recommendation that the BLM, pending completion of the plan, issue guidance requiring the adoption of best management practices for conserving big game habitats.
- Direction to CDNR and CPW to convene an interagency task force to explore opportunities to minimize the impacts of renewable energy development on big game habitat.
- Support for continued investment in state programs like the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program and Ranching for Wildlife that finance activities on private land that conserve wildlife habitats.
“Healthy, intact habitats, and particularly the corridors that allow for seasonal wildlife migrations, are essential for sustaining our big game herds,” said Jon Holst, Colorado field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “More than anyone, sportsmen and sportswomen know the value of Colorado’s elk, mule deer, and pronghorn, as well as the spillover effects that benefit all species when the conservation of these landscapes is prioritized.”
The release of the report was timed to coincide with the governor’s proclamation to officially designate September 29 as Wildlife Habitat and Connectivity Day in Colorado.
To read more from the report, click here.
Photo: Jeff Wallace via Flickr