WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $4 million in grant funding for habitat projects in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming to conserve migration corridors and winter ranges for elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and other iconic wildlife. The grants will leverage $21.6 million in matching contributions to generate a total conservation impact of $25.6 million.
The grants were awarded through the Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big Game and Migration Corridors Program (Western Big Game Migration Program), a public-private partnership between NFWF and the U.S. Department of Interior, with funding provided by the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, ConocoPhillips, BNSF Railways and Microsoft.
“We learn more about western wildlife migrations every year,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “This new information helps us focus conservation investments and on-the-ground efforts in places and habitats that are critical to ensuring a better future for wildlife species that move across the vast landscapes of the American West. With the steadfast commitment shown by our state, federal and private partners, these special places can be protected and conserved, to the benefit of both wildlife and people.”
The projects supported by the 16 grants announced today will enhance and improve habitats on state-identified priority winter ranges, stopover areas, and migration corridors that are used by big game species. Projects are located on federal and private lands and work with owners who volunteer to participate in conservation efforts. These projects support biodiversity through securing and improving connectivity and facilitating climate resiliency. The efforts of this partnership help to ensure healthy populations of these iconic animals.
“The continued funding affirms a broad commitment to Wyoming’s existing policies to conserve migration corridors,” said Brian Nesvik, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “Through our partnership with NFWF over the last several years, the department has been able to work with private landowners and federal land management agencies to put important conservation practices on the ground including fence modifications, invasive species management, and other vegetation treatments in habitats used by migratory mule deer and antelope.”
Examples of projects that will receive grants include:
Carlsbad Soil and Water Conservation District – New Mexico ($757,000 total impact)
The Improving Grasslands and Fences to Restore Habitat Connectivity for Pronghorn project will restore 6,000 acres of grassland habitat by treating and removing invasive mesquite and creosote in the Indian Basin area of Eddy County in Southeast New Mexico. Additionally, 10 miles of fencing will be removed or converted to wildlife friendly standards to improve connectivity for pronghorn in the basin.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department – ($1,157,000 total impact)
The Treating Invasives and Improving Fences to Restore Big Game Migratory Corridor Habitat Project will restore and improve big game migration corridors and winter ranges directly benefitting the Dubois, Platte Valley, Sublette and Wyoming Range mule deer herds. The project will treat 4,076 acres for invasive weeds, convert 22 miles of fences to wildlife friendly standards, and conduct land restoration activities on 2,750 acres of BLM and USFS managed land.
This is the third round of grants funded through this partnership. The projects collectively will:
- Protect 59,000 acres of private land from fragmentation through conservation easements;
- Restore 13,000 acres of public and private land through efforts such as invasive weed and conifer removal treatments;
- Improve management on 108,000 acres of private and public working lands through efforts such as grazing and wildlife management plans;
- Remove or improve 171 miles of fencing to wildlife-friendly specifications, reducing direct mortality and increasing landscape connectivity;
- Reconnect 132 miles of migration corridors for big game species;
- Reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions on US Highway 28 (ID) from 420 to 42 individuals annually.
A complete list of the 2021 grants made through the Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors Program is available here.