Colorado State Wildlife Action Plan: A Strategy for Conserving Wildlife in Colorado

Colorado’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) summarizes the most crucial aspects of biodiversity conservation in Colorado over the next 10 years. The plan aims to address the impacts to, and develop near and long-term strategies for, the state’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) - which are the species of highest conservation priority in Colorado. This SWAP was coordinated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) - who have chosen 55 of the SGCN to focus their efforts on, considering these species as “Tier 1” or as being in the most critical condition in terms of severity of threats and population decline. As part of the SWAP revision process, CPW conducted a habitat-based climate change vulnerability assessment, and determined which Tier 1 species are at greatest risk to climate impacts.

Terrestrial ecological systems from across the state have been categorized into 20 habitat types, nine aquatic habitats, and seven “other” habitat categories have been defined.  Habitats are categorized as those of Forest and Woodland, Shrubland, Riparian an Wetland, or Aquatic - and each are detailed in Chapter 3 including distribution and overall conservation status for the 36 habitat types. 

The Threats and Conservation chapter presents updated information on the threats on Colorado’s SGCN and their habitats, as well as conservation actions needed to address problems and improve species’ status. One of the major threat categories is “Climate Change and Severe Weather.”  Specifically, climate change is expected to impact wildlife through:

  • Habitat Shifting and Alteration
  • Drought
  • Temperature Extremes
  • Storms and Flooding

The highest priority threats and conservation actions for Tier 1 SGCN are briefly summarized for each of these species. Climate change is determined a major threat for the following Tier 1s:

Amphibians -Boreal Toad, Northern Leopard Frog

Birds - Brown-capped Rosy-Finch, Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse, Greater Sandhill Crane, Southern White-tailed Ptarmigan, Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Fish - Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout

Mammals - American Pika, Gunnison’s Prairie Dog, Lynx, White-tailed Prairie Dog, Wolverine

Reptiles - Massasauga Rattlesnake

A climate change vulnerability assessment was conducted for wildlife habitats in Colorado - the results of that assessment are summarized in Appendix F. Habitats recognized as highly vulnerable to climate change impacts include: Pinyon-Juniper, Lodgepole, Ponderosa pine, Spruce-Fir, Subalpine Limber and Bristlecone Pine, Oak and Mixed Mountain Shrub, Sandsage shrublands, Shortgrass prairie, Transition zone streams, Alpine, and Reservoirs and Shorelines.

A list of additional resources, including management, conservation, and recovery plans, is available in Appendix D.


Publication Date: 2015

Related Organizations:

  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Plans (other)

States Affected:

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