Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts resolutions supporting Governor Polis’s Executive Order Conserving Colorado’s Big Game Winter Ranges and Migration Corridors and AFWA Blue Ribbon Panel Recommendations

WRAY, Colo. – At its November 15 meeting in Wray, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved a resolution supporting Governor Polis’s Executive Order for Conserving Colorado’s Big Game Winter Ranges and Migration Corridors.

Governor Polis’s Executive Order was signed August 21 at an Idaho Springs game check station auspiciously located at the only natural land bridge in Colorado that crosses the interstate.

CPW Wildlife and Natural Resources Assistant Director Reid DeWalt presented the resolution to the commission and spoke about its importance to the agency.

DeWalt explained how the resolution outlines directives for CPW and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to work together to identify wildlife migration corridors and seasonal habitats, educate the public on their importance to ensuring Colorado’s wildlife populations continue to thrive, and to incorporate consideration of corridors into all levels of transportation planning to the extent possible.

Colorado Department of Natural Resources Assistant Director for Parks, Wildlife and Lands Doug Vilsack said, “This is one of the governor’s first executive orders if that tells you anything about his priorities … This EO and the conversations around it have already been very useful in interacting with federal land agencies and demonstrating our state’s focus on wildlife corridors and protecting wildlife. It has already been very useful in talking with federal agencies about what our priorities are.” 

“This is important because when the executive branch does something that says ‘thank you’ and recognizes the great work this agency is doing, and also sets out expectations that are so in line with ours, it’s a rarity in my experience,” said Commissioner Charles Garcia. “The commission appreciates this and supports the directive.”

Before its unanimous vote approving the resolution, the CPW Commission drew attention to the final paragraph in the resolution, which reads: Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission recognizes and appreciates the valuable contributions of Governor Polis’s direction in Executive Order D 2019 011 to work in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado Wildlife and Transportation Alliance, to conserve Colorado’s big game winter ranges and migration corridors. 
 
Resolution supporting Recovering America’s Wildlife Act
The CPW Commission also unanimously passed a resolution reaffirming support for the Blue Ribbon Panel’s Recommendations on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources at its November meeting. 

CPW Species Conservation Unit Supervisor David Klute explained the history of these recommendations and how they tie into House Resolution 3742 – Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

In 2016, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies released a report from its Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife that outlined two primary recommendations:

The first recommendation asked Congress to dedicate $1.3 billion annually to implement state wildlife action plans. SWAPs identify species of greatest conservation needs and priority habitats and they outline conservation actions to address threats to those species and habitats.

The second recommendation was to examine the impact of societal changes on the relevancy of fish and wildlife conservation and how agencies can serve broader constituencies.

House Resolution 3742, known as “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act,” was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives on July 12, 2019 and addresses the Blue Ribbon Panel’s Recommendations.

If passed, the act would dedicate $1.3 billion from the U.S. Treasury for implementation of state wildlife action plans. This funding would be transformative and lead to a total impact of $36 million of additional funds for conservation efforts every year in Colorado. 

Klute noted that, “Although the CPW Commission had previously passed a resolution of support for the Blue Ribbon Panel’s Recommendations in 2016, a reaffirmation of this support is another very important signal along with those signals coming from all over the U.S. of ongoing support for the Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendations and further emphasizes the need for passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.” 

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