On July 14, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) began released a draft of the 2015 Wildlife Action Plan. The deadline for public comment is August 13.
The draft has been a year in development and is required of all state wildlife and fishery agencies in order to qualify for federal funding for some programs. The plan is designed to prioritize work on species and habitats that show declining populations or trends or need more work to establish trends. These species are not yet endangered or threatened but may require some attention to prevent them from becoming so. The plan goes on to examine possible stressors to those populations and potential conservation actions that may address the decline.
The complete draft of the plan is close to 500 pages long. For ease in downloading, it is broken into chapters, as follows:
Element 1: Species of Greatest Conservation Need
Element 2: Key Habitats and Natural Communities
Element 3: Problems Affecting SGCN and their Habitats
Element 4: Conservation Actions
Elements 5 and 6: Monitoring and Plan Revision
Elements 7 and 8: Coordination with Partners and Public Participation
MFPC has been represented by Patrick Strauch, Pat Sirois and Barry Burgason on the steering committee and at a variety of stakeholder meetings over the past year. The draft plan is both exceedingly complete and complicated. In addition to some of the introductory chapters, to get a sense of the scope of the project, MFPC members may wish to focus on two chapters with relevance to timber harvesting. The first would be Element 3: Problems Affecting SGCN and their Habitats. Within this chapter, documents embedded within the table on pages 13 and 14 are most important for members to review. Focus on Threat Categories: “Logging and Wood Harvesting,” “Problematic Native Species-Diseases,” and “Agricultural and Forestry Effluents.”
The second chapter is Element 4: Conservation Actions. Even though it is 95 pages long, it may be worthwhile to skim the entire chapter since, as land managers, we are also habitat managers. There is plenty of background information to be found in the other chapters.
The Council, SWOAM and other landowners have been invited to a meeting with IFW staff to review the draft plan. At present, we are not sure when that will be. It would be valuable for members to review the plan and share your comments with Pat, Patrick or Barry within the next few weeks.