Western Governors’ Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative

Western Governors' on June 27, 2017 released the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative Special Report, highlighting mechanisms to bring states, federal land managers, private landowners and other stakeholders together to discuss issues and opportunities in forest and rangeland management.

In the report, experts and stakeholders from throughout the West share insights on land management practices and identify improvements that will enable western states to develop healthy, resilient landscapes and communities.

Western Governors, range management, forest management

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Aerial Surveys Confirm Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population is Holding Steady

The latest lesser prairie-chicken survey shows bird population trends remain stable after six years of aerial survey data collection. The survey indicates an estimated breeding population of 33,269 birds this year, up from 24,648 birds counted last year. Though scientists are encouraged by the numbers, they know that year-to-year fluctuations are the norm with upland birds like the lesser prairie-chicken.

“The survey results indicate a 34% increase in the number of birds, but we don’t read too much into short-term population fluctuations,” explained Roger Wolfe, WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-chicken Program Manager. “The monitoring technique used for this survey is designed to track trends which more accurately reflect the amount of available habitat and population stability. The bottom line is that the population trend over the last five years indicates a stable population, which is good news for all involved in lesser prairie-chicken conservation efforts.”

Lesser-prairie chickens can be found in four ecoregions in five states: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.  Wildlife biologists note prairie chicken numbers regularly fluctuate up and down from year to year due to changes in habitat conditions mainly influenced by weather patterns. The surveys this year indicated apparent population increases in three of the four ecoregions and range-wide, with an apparent decrease estimated in the fourth ecoregion.

Lesser Prairie Chicken, population trends

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Plague Confirmed at Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge

usfws logoJune 30, 2017 - Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) near Muleshoe, Texas is informing the public that plague has been confirmed on the Refuge and is currently confined to two populations of prairie dogs.  For public safety, Paul’s Lake and the access road to the lake are temporarily closed to all public access.

Plague is widespread across the western United States and outbreaks are fairly common.  Caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis, plague can be transmitted from animal to animal and from animal to human by the bites of infective fleas.

Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, Plague, Texas

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What They're Saying: Wildfire Crisis Edition

housenr scopeJune 30, 2017 | House Committee on Natural Resources  

Thanks to years of neglect, the nation’s once flourishing federal forests have morphed into dense, dead and burned out wastelands. These overgrown, fire-prone thickets are increasingly susceptible to catastrophic wildfire, threatening the lives and livelihoods of countless communities. What’s even more disturbing than the escalating toll placed upon private property, human safety and the environment: it’s all preventable.


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Mexican Wolf Draft Revised Recovery Plan Released for Public Comment

mexican wolfALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft revision to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan. The plan guides Mexican wolf recovery efforts by the bureau and its partners, with the ultimate goal of removing this wolf subspecies from Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections and returning management to the appropriate states and tribes. The Service is now seeking public input and peer review on the draft revised plan through a public comment period and series of public meetings. The comment period will remain open through August 29, 2017.

esa, Mexican Wolf, recovery plan

Read more: Mexican Wolf Draft Revised Recovery Plan Released for Public Comment

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