DOW SEEKS PUBLIC INPUT ON SPECIES CONSERVATION

November 04, 2004

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) stands to reap $6 million annually from a federal grant program designed to help states with the conservation of non-game wildlife species.

However, to qualify for State Wildlife Grants dollars, the DOW must gather public input that will help the state wildlife agency identify species in greatest need and develop a comprehensive plan to prioritize and meet conservation goals.

Congress approved the grant program in 2001 and it was signed into law last year. Colorado already has received some of the grant monies, but to continue benefiting from the program it and all other states must draw up statewide species conservation plans and submit them to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by next October.

"While current funding falls short of long-term needs, the money received so far represents a significant step in providing alternative funding for species conservation," said Gary Skiba, project leader and multi-species coordinator for the DOW.

"We've got all these species that we really haven't been able to work with for years, and this is our opportunity to get significant funding to move forward with conservation actions for the species in greatest need," he added.

The federal grant dollars are expected to provide the DOW with an automatic, permanent and alternative funding source for species conservation. Together with matching Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) state lottery money, total funding for the project could reach $10 million per year.

The DOW is responsible for some 1,000 wildlife species native to Colorado. The new funding would enable biologists to continue working on species conservation projects already underway, as well as focus on additional species after talking to other experts around the state.

"We don't have all the expertise," Skiba said. "We want to bring in some other folks and ask them what they think are important species to conserve."

As such, gathering public input on statewide species conservation will be a priority for the DOW. In early September, DOW Director Bruce McCloskey sent out a formal letter inviting the public and wildlife experts from universities and private groups to participate in public meetings scheduled to take place next month.

Public meetings on Colorado's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy are set to take place on the following dates and locations:

--Colorado Springs: Nov. 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m., in the DOW regional office classroom, 4255 Sinton Road. Enter the back of the building and walk through two sets of double doors to reach the classroom; parking is available near the rear entrance;

--Denver: Nov. 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Holiday Inn-Denver Central, 4849 Bannock St.;

--Grand Junction: Nov. 18, 6:30-8:30 p.m., DOW Office, 711 Independent Ave., Hunter Education Building, next to the regional office. Enter side door;

--Durango: Nov. 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Double Tree Hotel, 501 Camino del Rio, at the intersection of state highways 160 and 550.

To read additional information about the development of Colorado's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, visit:

http://wildlife.co.us/species_cons/CWCS/index.asp or the Teaming with Wildlife Web site at: http://teaming.com/state_wildlife_strategies.htm.

For more information about the State Wildlife Grants program go to:

http://fa.r9.fws.gov/swg/swg.html

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

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