Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley announced today that the Alabama Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy has been approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All 50 states agreed to complete a Strategy by October 1, 2005, as a condition for receiving State Wildlife Grants funding to support fish and wildlife conservation.
Completion and implementation of the Strategy is a historic opportunity for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to assess and address Alabama’s outstanding wildlife diversity on a comprehensive statewide scale. Alabama surpasses all eastern states in wildlife diversity and ranks first in the nation in freshwater species diversity, including more than 750 species of freshwater fish, mussels, aquatic snails, and crayfish. During the more than two-year effort to complete the Strategy, the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries compiled, coordinated and integrated the best available scientific information on the status of Alabama’s wildlife and the concerns, recommendations and existing conservation priorities of a diverse array of public and private stakeholders.
The Strategy puts particular emphasis on the needs of species whose populations are declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation. The intent is to stop such declines and minimize the need to protect additional species under the Endangered Species Act. “This proactive approach is the most practical and cost effective way to address long-term wildlife conservation issues,” stated Corky Pugh, director of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. “We intend to use the Strategy and the associated State Wildlife Grants funding to guide our efforts and those of our many conservation partners.”
The Alabama Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy is available on the Department’s Web site, www.outdooralabama.com, in the “Research and Management” section. The State Wildlife Grants program has brought $4 million of new federal funding to Alabama over the past four years to support these conservation efforts. Information on this program is also available on the Department’s Web site, including descriptions of current wildlife research and management projects.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.