By Wayne Hooper
Seacoastonline.com news story
Maine has a plan for conserving its most rare and vulnerable fish and wildlife species.
Maine’s Wildlife Action Plan, created in 2005, focuses on voluntary measures that can assist many of the state’s most vulnerable species. It highlights natural area conservation efforts, and sets the course for the future of wildlife conservation in Maine.
Since 2005, Maine has received close to $8 million in federal funding and accomplished more than 50 research, management and conservation projects, benefitting brook trout, rare freshwater mussels and dragonflies, migrant birds such as Bicknell’s thrush and black-throated blue warbler, and globally rare species, such as the Tomah mayfly. Puffins, wood turtles, Atlantic sturgeon, little brown bats and bumblebees are also recognizable species that have benefited from the Wildlife Action Plan.
Maine is home to 292 species of birds, 61 species of non-marine mammals, 20 species of reptiles, 18 species of amphibians, 56 species of inland fish, and 313 species of marine fish and mammals. The state is a geographic transition area, and its abundant wildlife resources represent a blending of species that are at or approaching the northern or southern limit of their ranges. Maine’s diverse physical settings support a wide diversity of wildlife that few other states can equal.
Wildlife Action Plans are created collaboratively among state, federal, tribal and local agencies, non-profit organizations, private landowners and the general public to identify opportunities to conserve vulnerable species and habitats before they become more difficult to address.
In 2005, Maine’s plan identified 213 of our species in greatest need of conservation; the key issues surrounding these fish, wildlife, and their habitats; and showcased conservation opportunities necessary to prevent a species from becoming endangered, or to implement recovery programs.
Wildlife Action Plans must be updated every 10 years; Maine’s next revised plan is due Oct. 1, 2015. Over the coming year, MDIFW and its partners will work together to identify Maine’s fish and wildlife needs and conservation opportunities for the next decade.
Over 70 public, private, and non-profit entities are helping revise this plan. Close to 50 of these organizations have attended workshop meetings in July, September and November, ensuring that Maine’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan will reflect the values and priorities of Maine’s people.
Landowner participation is also an essential part of the process, in order to identify practical, voluntary conservation opportunities that are amenable to landowner objectives and land use practices. Considering that wildlife-related recreation contributes over $1.4 billion annually to Maine’s economy, crafting an effective Wildlife Action Plan benefits not only our resident fish and wildlife species, but also supports a thriving sector of our state’s economy.