GCP LCC partners within the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) are busy revising their wildlife action plans. Congress created the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, which required each State to develop a strategic plan to provide guidance on how each State would spend their portion of those funds. Across the country, these plans are commonly referred to as ‘State Wildlife Action Plans’ or SWAPs, but the vernacular used within each State in the GCP LCC varies a bit -- from the Louisiana Wildlife Action Plan (WAP) to the Oklahoma Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (OCWCS) to the Texas Conservation Action Plan (TCAP). But all the plans outline the strategy to address wildlife and their habitats, including species not hunted or fished, with an emphasis on those species of Greatest Conservation Need (GCN) within each state.
LCC and CSC Projects Inform new SWAP Climate Change Requirements
In the guidance for the 2015 revisions to the plans, States have been encouraged to incorporate the impacts of climate change and the associated species responses into their SWAPs. This new challenge required additional information on climate change scenarios, predicted impacts, and information on how the SGCN species may respond to these conditions. Fortunately, some of the work ongoing through the GCP LCC partnership, other LCCs and the Climate Science Centers provided this information. GCP LCC staff provided input to the OCWCS and the Louisiana WAP, with specific emphasis on the sections focused on adaptation to climate change. Given the role of the LCCs in addressing large scale ecological drivers such as climate change, improved landcover, and projected future urbanization, we were able to provide additional references and increase the robustness of those sections. The State partners were appreciative of this input, particularly given that the reference to climate change is a new requirement. We see this as an ongoing role of the LCC as implementation of the SWAPs continues.
LCC staff reviews identified common themes across the SWAPs and improved the consistency. We were also able to highlight commonalities between GCN species and the GCP LCC partnership focal species. The Louisiana WAP specifically includes reference to the Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment (GCVA) (Watson et al. 2015), which is nearing completion, and the Evaluation of Regional Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) project (Clough et al. 2015). In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Ecological Systems Mapping effort was used to identify vegetation types and systems in the OCWCS. This is information similar to that available in Texas, providing the ability to conduct more strategic conservation work across state lines.
Integrating SWAP Conservation Actions into LCC Conservation Design
It is important to recognize that the plans outline actions that can and should be taken not only by the State Agencies but by other conservation partners whose actions work to conserve, restore, or manage habitats that GCN species rely on. The SWAPs identify Conservation Opportunity Areas (COAs), which are areas of importance for focusing conservation efforts. These COAs will form a layer in the ongoing Landscape Conservation Design efforts that the GCP LCC partnership is developing.
The Texas plan revision was completed in 2012 and is available online for use by anyone interested in Texas conservation efforts for wildlife and wildlife habitat. It consists of a series of eleven regionally-specific handbooks, an overview document, and a Statewide/multi-region handbook. The TCAP revision was initiated during the start-up years of the GCP LCC, and included participation by many GCP partners; we are confident that the information being generated through these partnership efforts can be used in the ongoing implementation of the TCAP, including the aforementioned GCVA and SLAMM efforts.