DEP Seeks Public Comment on Major Update to State Wildlife Action Plan (DEP News Release, 12/11/17)
NOTE: To access specific portions of the plan, please use the bookmarked Table of Contents on Page vii in New Jersey's State Wildlife Action Plan (pdf, 32mb)
Defining conservation actions is one of the "eight required elements" of a complete State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP), and identifying the actions (see Chapter 3, Section II) (pdf, 32mb) to achieve conservation success for New Jersey's Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) is one of the most significant tasks of this Plan revision.
Using a "Common Lexicon" for Actions
In this Plan revision, DFW and conservation partners began with the hundreds of conservation actions identified in the 2006 Plan, revising and updating them based on current conditions. In the process, all actions were categorized using the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's "Tracking and Reporting on Actions for Conservation of Species" (TRACS - see Appendix M) (pdf, 32mb) lexicon, which provides a standard method of identifying and reporting on conservation actions across states and regions.
The TRACS categories organize actions on three tiers of increasing detail. As was done with threats and action drivers, DFW introduced a fourth tier, resulting in a more detailed list of conservation actions (see Appendix I) (pdf, 32mb) that are specific to New Jersey.
Developing and Prioritizing the Actions
To identify the actions expected to have the greatest impact on wildlife conservation over the next ten years, DFW selected actions associated with the most widespread and severe threats (see Chapter 3, Section 1.C) (pdf, 32mb) to New Jersey's Focal SGCN. This method, however, resulted in the selection of virtually all "level 3" action categories (see Chapter 3, Table 4) (pdf, 32mb), showing the breadth of actions needed to conserve New Jersey's diverse wildlife.
Additional prioritization of actions is necessary. As DFW and others implement the Plan over the next few years, DFW intends to work closely with conservation partners to further prioritize conservation actions using a more refined and detailed assessment that considers feasibility, cost, potential effectiveness, and other criteria.
Actions for Focal Species of Greatest Conservation Need
In this section, we present the Threats and Conservation Actions for the Focal Species of Greatest Conservation Need report (see Appendix J) (pdf, 32mb). This report provides extensive and highly detailed lists of threats and the applicable conservation actions for each of the 48 Focal SGCN and Focal SGCN guilds, referred to as "conservation targets." This report describes the threats and actions to address those threats, and should be useful to those who are developing new conservation projects, or adapting current projects, to improve conditions for wildlife of greatest concern.
Projects to Conserve New Jersey's Wildlife Populations of Concern
In the course of workshops with conservation partners, DFW compiled 32 conservation projects to benefit SGCN (see Chapter 3, Section IV) (pdf, 32mb). Actions that were identified initially, or as a result of identifying specific threats, are presented in the context of each of the projects. The 32 projects presented in the Plan are examples that address some of the current conservation issues in New Jersey. They do not include all conservation planning, implementation, and monitoring that are ongoing and/or required.
Action Development for "Conservation Focal Areas"
Conservation Focal Areas (see Chapter 2, Section II,) (pdf, 32mb) (CFAs) highlight specific areas of New Jersey that feature some of the highest value wildlife habitats and present opportunities for effective conservation action. Following a re-examination and refinement of CFAs, DFW will undertake a more geographically-specific examination of threats and development of actions targeted at the greatest threats to those areas.
Conservation Actions that Account for Plant Communities
The SWAP explicitly focuses on developing and implementing actions to conserve SGCN and the habitats on which they depend. While plants are not addressed as species of conservation concern in the Plan, New Jersey supports an extraordinarily diverse flora.
Most of the threats affecting New Jersey's wildlife populations also affect its native flora and ecological communities. The actions presented in this Plan may provide opportunities to conserve rare plant communities, and conversely, without proper precautions, actions that enhance wildlife habitat may pose risks to rare plants. DFW partnered with the New Jersey Natural Heritage Program, NJDEP's plant conservation program, to create guidance for integrating rare plants into wildlife planning (see Attachment IV) (pdf, 32mb). This report focuses on four habitat types in two landscape regions that serve as examples of how to integrate conservation of wildlife and rare plants.