Sunday, December 6, 2009

Richardson helps protect wildlife migration corridors

Great news for hunters and wildlife lovers. On Friday, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter joined New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson in announcing a new initiative to identify and protect key wildlife travel and migration corridors between the two states.

The two governors have finalized a Memorandum of Understanding pledging to work collaboratively to protect key habitat connectivity, travel and migration corridors used by elk, deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and other key species of wildlife that migrate across the shared border between the State of Colorado and the State of New Mexico.

“A rich wildlife heritage is one of the great treasures our states share and it must be protected,” Richardson said. “Roaming bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope are part of what it means to live in the great open space of the West. I am proud to play a part in continuing these great traditions.”

In addition to the role wildlife plays as a cultural touchstone, the economies of both Colorado and New Mexico benefit significantly from the hunting, fishing and tourism that the region’s wildlife supports. According to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers spent $3 billion inColorado and $823 million in New Mexico that year.

“Wildlife is one of the most important resources in the West,” Ritter said. “It is part of our heritage, and its protection should be part of our legacy. I’m delighted we will be working with Gov. Richardson and New Mexico to make certain that the wildlife we share is able to move freely back and forth across our borders.”

The MOU formalizes cooperation and planning for wildlife corridors. It calls for using the best scientific geospatial mapping systems available to inform land use planning and development in key habitats and migration areas.

Tribal consultation will be done with the Jicarilla Apache Tribe, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Ute Mountain Tribe.

The Western Governors’ Association has also identified protection of viable wildlife corridors as an important regional objective. In June, the WGA signed a MOU with the U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy, which agreed to help provide states with the best information possible on wildlife populations, wildlife corridors and crucial habitat across various political jurisdictions.

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