Legislation to Protect Tribal Wildlife Corridors and Support Wildlife Management Efforts.
Annually, thousands of sportsmen and sportswomen travel to tribal land or lands adjacent to those under tribal jurisdiction to carry on valued traditions such as hunting and fishing. In many cases these sporting opportunities on tribal lands offer unique, one of a kind experiences that many non-tribal lands cannot provide. Many sporting organizations partner with tribes to provide and leverage resources to improve sporting opportunities and conserve the quality of big game habitat and wildlife on tribal lands. These important partnerships and projects further assist tribal efforts to meet their management objectives with limited resources by protecting important calving and breeding grounds, increasing wildlife’s ability survive, promoting genetic diversity and ultimately reducing the possibility of disease.
Enhancing, conserving and restoring migration and movement routes has a number of benefits that ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing landscape. Some of these benefits consist of safe passage to seasonal ranges, and access to high quality food sources and water in summer and winter range. As technology and science continue to improve, data collection and analysis have allowed researchers to document and better understand the movement of North American big game populations with great specificity and accuracy. This critical data and information can then assist tribal and non-tribal wildlife and land managers in identifying and prioritizing corridors to implement best management practices and place-based projects, such as reducing barriers to movement through fence modification and removal, constructing wildlife safe passages, and restoring native forage in winter range.
Federally recognized Tribes and Sovereign Nations have limited access to funding sources to manage wildlife and habitat. The Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act introduced in the 117th congress still needs bipartisan support. Led by Senator Lujan and Congressman Gallego and currently assigned to the Senate Indian Affairs committee, this bill takes an important step toward filling this capacity gap for tribes by authorizing grant funding and technical assistance. Increasing capacity and resources effectively gives tribes a greater ability to adaptively manage for wildlife and habitat to improve connectivity on, through, and adjacent to tribal lands.
We believe the Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act will make important contributions to achieving long-term conservation goals and objectives on Tribal land and off, for both game and non-game species alike. If you want to see this bill passed in this congress or next, please reach out to your federal member of congress and encourage them to sponsor the Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act.
Jeremy Romero is the Regional Connectivity Coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation. He works on prioritizing and protecting habitat connectivity and wildlife corridors across jurisdictional boundaries in the Upper Rio Grande (basically southcentral Colorado into northern New Mexico). This area is a hotspot for wildlife movement, from mule deer and elk to pronghorn, bear and many other important species.
The Great American Outdoors Act will fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund while investing in a backlog of public land maintenance, providing current and future generations the outdoor recreation opportunities like boat launches to access fishable waters, shooting ranges, and public lands to hunt as well as the economic stimulus we need right now.