Climate change could make it more challenging to conserve and manage the state’s most at-risk fish, animals and plants, Idaho officials said.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game released its draft Idaho State Wildlife Action Plan Monday, which will guide its management actions for the next decade.
The plan emphasizes avoiding endangered species listings in the Act to maintain state authority over plant and wildlife management decisions and to restore listed species. The agency is taking public comments until August 31 on the 336-page draft plan that will replace a 2015 version.
“It’s intended to be a driving force for state-level wildlife conservation in Idaho,” said Rita Dixon, Fish and Game coordinator for the plan. “It’s meant to guide what we’re doing to make Idaho a better place for people and wildlife.”
Dixon said the draft will be reviewed based on public comments and then presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at its November meeting. If the committee approves, it will be sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for review by a regional team that includes a director of a fish and wildlife agency from another state. If approved there, the state will continue to be eligible for federal grant money. The 2015 plan took months for the Fish and Wildlife Service to sign. The state continues to be eligible for that money under the current 2015 plan, Dixon said.
Federal legislation called the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act has been passed. The House is expected to vacate the Senate. The $1.3 billion legislation could bring in millions of dollars for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for wildlife conservation, fisheries and habitats. The state wildlife action plan is needed to qualify for that money.
The plan first put forward this year includes both plants and an entire paragraph on climate change.
“Idaho’s climate is expected to become generally warmer, drier in the summer, wetter in the winter and more variable over the next 50 to 70 years,” the report states.
The report notes that the annual mean temperature in Idaho has risen 1.8 degrees since 1895, with heat waves becoming more frequent. Precipitation is becoming more variable, according to the report, with precipitation decreasing in summer and autumn with more frequent prolonged droughts.
The report said spring and winter precipitation in Idaho is increasing, but with less snow, and the state’s snowpack is peaking earlier, shifting to higher elevations and becoming more inconsistent. In addition, the report notes that the moisture content of soil and fuel is decreasing, causing more and more wildfires.
According to the report, the annual flow rate has decreased, the streams are about 1.5 degrees warmer and the peak flow in spring is one to two weeks earlier. The report predicts that flow discharge will continue to decline and that peak flow in the spring could eventually be four to nine weeks earlier.
Idaho currently has about 20 species listed under the Endangered Species Act, including Snake River sockeye salmon, Snake River spring and summer run chinook salmon, Snake River fall run chinook salmon, and Snake River basin steelhead. Other species mentioned include trout, grizzly bears, Canadian lynx, slickspot peppergrass, Kootenai River white sturgeon, and the Bruneau hot spring snail.
Among the other objectives of the plan are to maximize access for traditional uses of natural resources such as grazing, mining and timber harvesting, to increase opportunities for voluntary stewardship efforts by ranchers, ranchers and private landowners, and to increase public engagement. in decisions and planning of nature management.
The report covers the state’s five major geographic and ecological regions and covers amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, invertebrates and plants. The plan also provides descriptions of 39 habitats it believes are essential for species conservation.
In addition to climate change, other topics analyzed related to Idaho’s wildlife include residential and commercial development, agriculture and aquaculture, energy production and mining, transportation and service corridors, human encroachments and disturbances, invasive species, pollution and geological events.
Jeff Abrams of the Idaho Conservation League said he was still reviewing the State Wildlife Action Plan, or SWAP, but found good things for hunters, fishermen and conservationists.
“We feel that the SWAP is an incredible opportunity to advance the conservation of our state’s precious wildlife resources,” he said. fish and game species harvested in the state.”