The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has begun the process of updating California’s Wildlife Action Plan, a guidance document that sets goals for improving the state’s wildlife resources. CDFW is holding a series of scoping meetings through November 13 of this year at various locations throughout the state.
To be eligible to receive federal funds under the State Wildlife Grants Program, each state must have a State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), and update its SWAP every 10 years. The intent of the document is to consider the broad range of wildlife and associated habitats, identify those species with the greatest conservation need, and consider the relative levels of funding available for the conservation of those species.
According to CDFW’s “Vision for California’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) 2015 Update” (pdf), the updated SWAP will
“address the highest priorities of California’s aquatic, marine and terrestrial resources. The update will use an ecosystem approach to manage California’s diverse habitat and species creating a blueprint for conservation actions, and a flexible process for responding to the highest priorities. Most importantly, the update will identify initiatives needed to conserve species and habitats on an ecoregional basis with effective actions.”
According to Armand Gonzales of CDFW, a goal of the SWAP is to “intervene on stresses and threats that are affecting” more common species “before they get to that point of needing protection under the Endangered Species Act,” (KPBS, October 21, 2013 by Amy Quinton.) To do so, CDFW expects to focus this update on ecosystems rather than individual species.
Climate change is also a particular focus in this SWAP update process. According to CDFW, changes to the climate have been documented since the last SWAP was produced in 2005 that pose significant threats to wildlife. CDFW plans to “fully integrate” climate change into this update, and has convened a special working group for this purpose.
California’s updated SWAP is due to be released in October of 2015.