Montana's contribution to a nationwide inventory of America's fish and wildlife was approved this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, endorsing the state's commitment to conserving hundreds of species that fall in the gap between the state's game animals and those that are threatened or endangered.
The approval of Montana’s 700-page comprehensive fish and wildlife conservation strategy also allows the state to continue receiving federal funds through the State Wildlife Grants program, the nation’s core program for preventing wildlife from becoming endangered.
"Montana's comprehensive fish and wildlife management strategy brings us a step closer to the promise of long-term federal funding needed to avoid costly future problems, conserve wildlife and natural areas for future generations, and keep fish and wildlife management decisions in the hands of Montana citizens," said FWP Director Jeff Hagener.
Through a series of public meetings held across the state in March, conservation groups and others joined with FWP to develop a five-year action plan to carry out the strategy. The first collaborative conservation project could be launched as early as next year.
"With the approval of Montana’s strategy, and the development of the collaborative action plan, the state now has a road map for conserving wildlife and wildlife habitat for Montana's future,” said Land Tawney, regional representative of the National Wildlife Federation, which is involved in developing the action plan. “We are glad to be part of the process that will ensure quality outdoor experiences for future generations."
Each state action plan will guide wildlife conservation projects funded by the State Wildlife Grants program. President Bush’s fiscal year 2007 Budget includes $74.7 million for State Wildlife Grants, a $6.5 million increase over last year’s enacted appropriation.
Since 2002, Montana has received more than $5 million for fish and wildlife conservation programs, including prairie-stream surveys; native Arctic grayling and cutthroat trout restoration; loon research; wolf and grizzly bear management planning; and inventories of small mammals and reptiles.
Montana’s Comprehensive Fish and Wildlife Conservation Strategy can be viewed on FWP's web site..