Washington, D.C. — Legislation unveiled by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico and Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia lays out an innovative strategy to address the ongoing fragmentation of wildlife habitat from climate change and man-made barriers. The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act would create a national program for maintaining wildlife migrations, movements, and wildlife corridors to ensure that wildlife will face fewer struggles to reach food, water, shelter and breeding sites.
“America’s wildlife are in crisis. More than one-third of all species at-risk or vulnerable to potential extinction in the decades ahead and fragmented migration corridors are only accelerating this problem,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “It’s essential that as America grows and invests in roads, dams, bridges, housing developments and energy infrastructure that new barriers are minimized and mitigated to ensure that wildlife can still move across essential habitat. We’re thankful for Senator Udall and Representative Beyer’s leadership on this issue to protect and retain wildlife habitat while restoring and re-connecting critical wildlife corridors.”
What the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2018 does for wildlife
- Creates a Wildlife Corridors Program. This system will allow wildlife to migrate across public lands with the changing seasons, boost biodiversity in degraded ecosystems, and ensure species are better able to adapt to climate change by establishing a process to identify and maintain wildlife corridors on the nation’s public lands. This system is an important and long overdue investment in the long-term health of wildlife populations, and will benefit all species, from antelope to carnivores like the wolverine to insects like the monarch butterfly.
- Creates a Wildlife Movements Grant Program to fund important habitat connectivity projects on state, private and tribal lands. The projects will be identified by the Regional Wildlife Movement Councils and the funding will be administered by a National Coordinating Committee. This work could consist of habitat or fencing improvements to support deer and pronghorn migrations, or creating culverts (pathways under infrastructure) that allow turtles, amphibians or fish to cross barriers safely.
- Creates Regional Wildlife Movement Councils. These councils will develop regional plans that identify important areas on non-federal lands where key projects can improve wildlife movements. This will ensure habitat connectivity across the country is enhanced beyond public lands.
- Creates a National Coordinating Committee. This committee will strengthen collaboration between the national system on public lands and the regional councils, which will oversee corridor efforts on state, private, and tribal lands.
- Creates a National Wildlife Corridor Database. This database that will include standardized, quality data, and will allow wildlife managers to make informed wildlife corridor decisions across the United States.