The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has announced that the agencys Wildlife Action Plan -- A Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, was approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Future federal funding for State Wildlife Grants (SWG) was contingent on plan approval. LDWFs strategy was accepted in its initial submittal following a two year statewide planning process that concluded in 2005.
The federal government made the commitment to the conservation of all wildlife species with state wildlife grant funding in 2002 and Louisianas Wildlife Action Plan re-affirms the states commitment to being a conscientious steward of the total resource, said Dwight Landreneau, LDWF secretary.
SWG funds are federal dollars derived from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and distributed by the USFWS Department of Interior. The funds are distributed proportionally, based on each states geographic and population size and provide for the research and program solutions for wildlife species that are not hunted, fished or trapped. Annual SWG funding in recent years has averaged $900,000 for LDWF programs and research.
State-level action developed by SWG fund use can prevent more species from becoming listed on the threatened or endangered species list a designation that brings strict federal land and water usage regulation which restricts private property use and development.
Our successes in non-game species recovery efforts prove the value of program funding in this area, said Gary Lester, Natural Heritage Program coordinator. LDWF biologists had significant roles in the re-population of species such as the brown pelican and the Louisiana black bear, and recovery research on the pallid sturgeon.
The plan approved by USFWS details Louisianas habitat value as a permanent or temporary home to over 900 species of vertebrate animals and an unknown number of invertebrates. Ecosystems from the diverse coastal marshes to interior pine-dominated landscapes are inhabited by a variety of wildlife including 24 million migrant songbirds on a typical spring day to five million waterfowl during an average winter. Over 200 rookeries for wading birds and seabirds are contained within the states borders.
LDWF broadened its constituency base in the development of the action plan. In addition to continuing its relationship with hunters and fishermen, the department conducted outreach meetings with the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, Louisiana Forestry Association, and all federal and state agencies with interest in natural resources.
More than 325 Conservation Actions or strategies were developed in seven focus group meetings held across the state with invited conservation organizations, forestry and wildlife associations, federal and state agencies, industry, universities and private citizens.
To review the Louisiana Wildlife Action Plan A Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov  and click on the link under ABOUT LDWF.
EDITORS: For more information, contact Gary Lester at 225-765-2823 or firstname.lastname@example.org .