Western Governor's Association Wildlife Corridors Initiative

In February 2007 the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) unanimously approved policy resolution 07-01, “Protecting Wildlife Migration Corridors and Crucial Wildlife Habitat in the West." To implement the resolution, the WGA launched the WGA Wildlife Corridors Initiative, a multi-state and collaborative effort that included six separate working groups, each of which was charged with developing findings and recommendations on various aspects of wildlife corridors and crucial habitat. These Working Groups are the Science Committee, Oil & Gas, Energy, Climate Change, Land Use, and Transportation Working Group. 

The Climate Change Working Group acknowledges that "the adverse impacts from climate change may pose the single-most serious threat to the long-term sustainability of indigenous fish and wildlife populations." As viable wildlife habitat is lost, the connections between landscapes are increasingly critical for the survival of key wildlife species. As landscapes change due to climate change, the need for connections between limited habitat areas is compounded. 

The WGA established the Western Governors’ Wildlife Council (WGWC) - consisting of designees from 17 WGA member states - to consider various issues related to the conservation and responsible use of crucial wildlife habitat and wildlife corridors; to provide habitat and corridor information to relevant federal, state and local governmental entities; and to seek uniform mapping of this information in a GIS format for all to use. The Council has agreed to common definitions of crucial wildlife habitat and corridors and issued guidelines to help each state prioritize habitat within its boundaries to meet its specific conservation objectives.

The Wildlife Corridors Initiative Report, approved by the Governors in June 2008, recommended the development of integrated Fish and Wildlife Decision Support Systems (DSSs) within each state to compile information, identify data gaps, assure data quality, bring consistency in data format and standards as appropriate, and make the data, models, and analyses available at scales useful to analyze projects in terms of on-site impacts, regional context, and a changing climate. 

The WGWC coordinates with federal land and natural resource management agencies through the State-Federal Implementation Group (SFIG), which was formed to implement a 2009 MOU between the Governors and the Secretaries of Agriculture, Energy and Interior. The State-Federal MOU on Wildlife Corridors (6/15/09) and 2011 Addendum (6/20/11), is available on the Initiative's website. The website also provides more detail on the history, current structure, long-term goals, and workplans of the working groups, the Wildlife Council, and related advisory groups. 

Publication Date: June 2008

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