Nevada's Blueprint for Wildlife Conservation

Article excerpt


Nevada's Wildlife Action Plan is a comprehensive blueprint that outlines the key roles of all land and resource management agencies and non-governmental organizations with a primary stake in the conservation goals of the Silver State.

Nevada's diversity of life results from its geography; its many mountain ranges are effectively isolated from one another by arid, treeless basins. Among the 50 states, Nevada is ranked eleventh in biological diversity and fifth in the number of historical species extinctions. Nevada also is challenged in developing effective wildlife conservation programs, in part because its arid climate, geography, and relative scarcity of water have produced many endemic species (those found nowhere else) that are vulnerable to a variety of threats. Water in Nevada is a scarce and valuable resource for both people and wildlife. Nevada is one of the fastest growing states in the nation, and its rapidly expanding human population creates a demand for water and destruction of wildlife habitat. Invasive, exotic, and feral species comprise another critical problem for both terrestrial and aquatic species and their habitats in Nevada. For example, the degradation of sagebrush, Mojave, and shadscale (a perennial shrub of the Great Basin) habitats by aggressive invasive plants such as cheatgrass and red brome following wildfire threatens many of Nevada's native species.


To develop Nevada's Wildlife Action Plan, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) recruited the Nature Conservancy's Nevada Chapter, the Lahontan Audubon Society, and the Nevada Natural Heritage Program as partners. With the help of experts from all taxonomic fields, the Wildlife Action Plan Team identified a total of 263 "Species of Conservation Priority," including 72 birds, 49 mammals, 40 fish, 20 reptiles, 7 amphibians, 74 gastropods, and 1 bivalve. Using data from the Southwest Regional Gap Analysis Project, the most up-to-date land cover (i.e., vegetation) map currently available in Nevada, the Team organized Nevada's various ecological systems into 27 key habitat types. It then devised multi-level strategies for these habitat types that integrate conservation needs for species assemblages as well as for individual species. Each strategy includes a list of key partners, programs, and projects to fulfill the conservation objectives of each key habitat and preliminary focal areas for action.

Because 87 percent of Nevada's landscape is federally owned, it is imperative that NDOW seek collaborative solutions to meet the goals of the Wildlife Action Plan. NDOW recognizes this must take place within the partners' existing land use planning processes, which include Bureau of Land Management resource management plans, U. …