The NH Wildlife Action Plan has been guiding work to protect and enhance wildlife and habitats across the state for 9 years now. With the Plan, and the many tools that have been created to help implement it — such as the wildlife habitat maps and the Taking Action for Wildlife Program — NHFG and its many partners have protected over 235,000 acres of wildlife habitat. Of the over 1.8 million acres of protected habitat in NH, 84% is habitat that is highest ranked in the Wildlife Action Plan maps.
There are many other ways that the Wildlife Action Plan has been implemented. Over 35 towns have worked to protect or enhance wildlife habitat through creating natural resource inventories, conservation plans, town forest management plans and/or engaging citizens on town conservation lands. Ospreys and Coopers hawks were removed from the endangered species list and peregrines and common terns were downgraded from endangered to threatened. The NH Dept. of Transportation developed guidelines for roadside maintenance to reduce the spread of invasive plants. A coalition of conservation and forestry groups, municipalities and state and federal agencies developed guidelines for new culverts so that they are sized appropriately for fish passage and to address increased flooding to protect the roadways and public safety. The NH Dept. of Environmental Services used this information when formulating their new wetlands regulations for stream crossings in 2010. Volunteers have submitted almost 2400 records of species through the Wildlife Sightings Database. 750 acres of habitat have been managed for New England Cottontail rabbits, with 2/3 of that on private lands. That shows how critical private landowners and citizens are as partners in the implementation of the Wildlife Action Plan!
It is now time to take a deep look at the Wildlife Action Plan, and revise it. NHFG biologists and partners have been reviewing the list of Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) to address changing needs of species, reflect the additional knowledge we have gained about entire groups of species, such as dragonflies and damselflies, and add marine species to the list. Some species will be removed as their status has improved. We are also incorporating a wealth of information gained through regional conservation projects – both for species and habitats. The resulting Plan will be done in a way so that all northeast states will better be able to see how their Plans align and work together on projects to benefit SGCN and their habitats.
We are also working on assessing threats to species and habitats and to formulate strategies to address these. Over the next few months, we will have compiled this information and will be looking for input for a broader range of partners and stakeholders.
Will you help us with this revision? We will have several stakeholder meetings to ask your input on the best strategies to help wildlife. We will have other opportunities as well, such as an online survey and an opportunity for you to comment on the draft of the plan. Watch for these opportunities and please help!
Visit the NH Wildlife Action Plan website for more information on the Plan.
By Emily Preston, New Hampshire Fish & Game
Taking Action for Wildlife Fall 2014 Newsletter