North American Wildlife Policy Conference

Following are links to white papers developed by the work group. Additional white papers on other topics identified by the work group will be presented shortly.

HABITAT CONSERVATION ON PUBLIC LANDS

Working Draft Prepared by the White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy Work Group

PROBLEMS

  1. Wildlife habitat management activities on federal lands are affected by sometimes conflicting statutory and regulatory priorities (Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, National Forest Management Act). These conflicts, in addition to federal agency management direction, can undermine efforts of state fish and wildlife agencies to attain habitat and population goals for game and nongame wildlife. In the western United States, opportunities on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands to sustain big game and upland bird habitats, populations, and hunting opportunity have been diminished due to conflicting statutory and regulatory priorities. In the eastern United States, these same conflicting priorities have led to reduced levels of vegetation management on Forest Service lands, which have resulted in reduced quantity and quality of early successional habitats and disturbance-dependent forest types such as oak and aspen-birch. Across the nation, the lack of clear statutory and regulatory guidance regarding wetlands protections is compromising efforts to conserve these important habitats.
  2. In some regions of the country, the vast majority of wildlife habitats are held in private ownership. Increasing ownership fragmentation can complicate efforts to conserve important habitats. In addition, private landowners commonly implement management activities without the aid of professional assistance.

GOALS

  1. Improve coordination between federal and state agencies so that state wildlife habitat and population objectives can be used to aid in the development and implementation of land management activities on federal lands.
  2. Enhance federal inter- and intra-agency communication during project planning and implementation on federal lands to resolve conflicting statutory and regulatory requirements to expedite habitat management initiatives.
  3. Sustain wildlife habitats on private lands by establishing tax policies and other incentives designed to minimize ownership fragmentation.
  4. Enhance existing programs that offer technical and financial assistance to sustain wildlife habitats on private lands.

IMPEDIMENTS

  1. State and federal agencies commonly have different wildlife habitat and population objectives, even on landscapes with intermixed holdings. These objectives may be poorly understood both within and among agencies, thereby complicating effective coordination.
  2. Limited staff time and expertise can limit opportunities to coordinate land management activities.
  3. Formal processes to facilitate effective communication and coordination are inconsistently utilized.
  4. Tax policies associated with the inheritance of private lands can promote increased ownership fragmentation and the resulting loss of wildlife habitats.
  5. Agricultural subsidies can promote the conversion of lands dedicated as wildlife habitats to lands dedicated to commodity production.

CONSEQUENCES

  1. The ability of state fish and wildlife agencies to manage wildlife habitats and populations at levels designed to maintain game wildlife populations at levels consistent with public expectations and to conserve imperiled species is eroding.
  2. The contribution to wildlife conservation by private lands, which in some regions afford the primary opportunities to sustain wildlife habitats and populations, is eroding.