Salt Lake City, UT (Feb. 9, 2018) – Today, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke issued a new Secretarial Order focused on “Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big-Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors.” The order provides direction to Interior agencies for additional mapping, habitat management strategy development, and collaborative planning in the western United States. Specifically mentioning deer, elk and pronghorn habitat and migration, the order is the Trump Administration’s first major step to address the need for more comprehensive wildlife corridor protection at the landscape level.
“Recognition of the importance of landscape connectivity by protecting migration corridors and winter range for big game in the West is a start,” said Wildlands Network Executive Director Greg Costello. “It acknowledges the need for habitat protection on a large scale in this era of climate change, but additional action on the legislative level is required to truly sustain wildlife long-term.”
Identification and protection of wildlife corridors has long enjoyed broad bipartisan support. In 2007, the Western Governors’ Association’s Wildlife Corridors Initiative was unanimously endorsed by 16 western states. Since that time, numerous states have adopted new policies and legislation to better manage landscapes for wildlife migration and habitat. In 2016, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“We hope this Order leads to increased support for legislation on the state and federal level to help agencies better fund and coordinate the type of landscape-level conservation needed on the national level for all native species,” said Costello. “A good next step would be bipartisan support for the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act in Congress.”
The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act would establish a National Wildlife Corridors System to ensure species are able to move between habitats less encumbered by obstacles. The bill directs key federal land and water management agencies to work with each other, as well as with states, tribes, local governments and private landowners, to develop and manage national wildlife corridors in accordance with existing laws and the habitat connectivity needs of native species.