Udall, Beyer Introduce Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act to Safeguard America’s Biodiversity
Would connect habitats and protect native fish, wildlife, and plant species from decline and extinction
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Representative Don Beyer (D-Va.) introduced the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2018 to protect and restore fish, wildlife, and plant species, in particular, those that are at risk to habitat loss and fragmentation–a major factor in species decline and extinction. The legislation establishes a National Wildlife Corridors Program to ensure that species are able to move between habitats by improving data use and collection and enhancing interagency and regional collaboration.
The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act directs key federal land and water management agencies to collaborate with each other, along with states, Tribes, local governments, and private landowners, to establish and manage National Wildlife Corridors to promote habitat connectivity and help protect America’s most iconic species. It also establishes a Wildlife Connectivity Database, which would enhance data collection and information sharing across agencies and jurisdictions to improve land management decisions throughout the United States.
Wildlife corridors can reverse the process of habitat loss and fragmentation by connecting habitats to one another in order to enable migration, foster better access to natural resources, increase species diversity, and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate. Research shows that maintaining habitat connectivity through wildlife corridors would ultimately reduce the risk of extinction for many species, but current law lacks requirements and incentives for decision-makers to address habitat connectivity needs at the landscape level and across jurisdictions.
“America’s wilderness has sustained our treasured native fish, wildlife and plant species for hundreds of years, but this vital part of our national heritage is in jeopardy,” said Udall. “The habitats and migration routes that our wildlife rely on to move and thrive are under increasing pressures, and our precious biodiversity along with it. In New Mexico, our millions of acres of public lands are home to thousands of iconic species—from the desert bighorns to whooping cranes to Gila trout—that could vanish if we fail to take bold action. These species are essential to our rich natural inheritance and agricultural and economic success, and are an important legacy to pass on to our children. By designating corridors that would connect these vital habitats to one another, we can ensure the survival of some of our most iconic species, from the monarch butterfly to the Louisiana black bear, and preserve our precious wildlife for future generations to come.”
“With roughly one in five animal and plant species in the U.S. at risk of extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation, one of the simplest yet most effective things we can do is to provide them ample opportunity to move across lands and waters,” said Beyer.
“The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act would provide the most important step of any single piece of legislation at the present time in enlarging the nation’s protected areas and thereby saving large swaths of America’s wildlife and other fauna and flora, especially in this critical time of climate change and shifting locations of the original environments in which a large part of biodiversity has existed,” renowned biologist E.O. Wilson said of the bill, which he has urged members of Congress to support.
The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2018 would:
• Create a Wildlife Connectivity Database that will include standardized, quality data to inform wildlife connectivity decisions across the United States and support decision-makers by collecting and disseminating information to states, tribes, and federal agencies
• Grant authority to key federal agencies to designate National Wildlife Corridors to support connectivity, resilience, and adaptability of native fish, wildlife, and plant species on public lands
• Establish Regional Wildlife Movement Councils that will develop Regional Wildlife Movement Plans, identifying priority areas on non-federal lands to protect essential resources and maintain biological movements, which would be funded by a Wildlife Movement Grant Program