PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced Rhode Island has published an update to its Wildlife Action Plan (WAP), qualifying the state for significant federal matching funds for wildlife and habitat conservation. Rhode Island's first WAP was published in 2005.
"Rhode Island's 2015 WAP reflects the strong partnership and deep commitment of DEM and its partners to develop a comprehensive plan to guide wildlife conservation efforts over the coming decade," said Cathy Sparks, DEM Assistant Director for Natural Resources. "The WAP was an enormous undertaking with significant people involved. This proactive plan will enable us to fund priority conservation efforts statewide and maintain Rhode Island's diverse natural landscape for its residents and wildlife populations to enjoy."
In 2000, Congress created the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, requiring states to complete a WAP every 10 years in order to be eligible for federal and tribal wildlife matching grants. The 2015 plan, which focuses on non-game species and related habitat, was developed by DEM in partnership with the Rhode Island Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the University of Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island Natural History Survey.
Rhode Island is home to a great diversity of wildlife – from mammals and birds to reptiles, amphibians, and fish. There are an estimated 900 vertebrate and 20,000 invertebrates whose habitat ranges from the scenic coastline to upland and wetland forests. Nearly 50 local experts participated in the development of the updated WAP via workshops and on specialized teams; their work focused on identifying priority species and habitats and recommending conservation actions. DEM solicited input from the public and local and regional stakeholders on the draft plan before submitting it to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for approval.
The 2015 WAP is available online and organized into easy-to-use sections for quick reference. Factsheets are available on priority species and habitat that include distribution maps, condition, and planned conservation actions. Information is also available on how communities and the public can get involved in efforts to preserve Rhode Island's abundant wildlife.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.