A forest service plan amendment in fact, just gave a name to a Pronghorn migration path (a path they have drawn/created on a map). The public/private partnerships behind the push for the recognition of a wildlife corridor provided that ’science’. The graphic below belongs to Gary Tabor’s Center for Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC) and by his definition an ‘overlay’ action was added as an amendment to this forest plan identifying the boundaries of an already existing and newly recognized route of the Pronghorn. Special status would then apply to that corridor definition and all activities there would be subject to non-interference to the migratory process. (see italic text in graphic)
As a relatively new regulatory concept ‘overlay’ to an existing plan rather than a designation that would require congressional approval, the first trial of it's usage by a federal management agency (USFS), in the case of Path of the Pronghorn (POP) was deemed successful by the Center for Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC). According to Gary Tabor, this overlay came with "clearly defined boundaries", crossing jurisdictional boundaries "so that the U.S. Forest Service overlay recognition could connect to larger landscape conservation goals” which can then be legally enforceable. Federal and state wildlife management agencies coordinated in the case of the Wyoming pronghorn. Wyoming state transportation agreed to re-task their own federal funding. A public and private land trust management collaboration was developed along the length of the designated corridor. The concept was unopposed and supported, both locally and by the Wyoming legislature.
In the following graphic ‘overlay’ as a regulatory tool is explained. As the POP example demonstrates, preserving a ‘sensitive area/wildlife habitat’ as a ‘potential use’ for the tool, was in fact, realistically applied. The forest supervisor determined the amendment met the criteria for a FONSI (findings of no significant impact) when considering the impact on the miles of the corridor on public forest land. The long term goal for overlays are too extend them beyond public land, and link them to adjoining private land. Conservation easements are a handy mechanism to do this. Land trust managers make this coordination possible. All connected together, these lands become linkages between conserved land, achieving the vital ’stepping stones’ for connectivity.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) was the principal non-governmental organization in making POP a success. Renee Seidler was part of this team and served as the Interpretive Site Leader of the POP project in Wyoming. This project has been applauded by the conservation community as the first of it’s kind, a large wildlife game species migratory and safe passage corridor.
Renee Seidler was hired as an IDFG contractor, for a 3-year term, to incorporate wildlife crossing and connectivity information into environmental assessments; develop data and information on: wildlife roadkill, connectivity, and crossings; focus on reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVC); and facilitating wildlife movement across US 20 north of Ashton, ID. At the July, 2017 ITD workshop she presented information on the concept of safe wildlife overpasses as an alternative for Targhee Pass. At that same workshop, ITD finally revealed that they are considering 3 wildlife overpass structure builds at successive mile post markers at the heart of Targhee Pass. The first just north of Big Horn Hills Estates, the middle structure near Howard Springs, and the final just before the Idaho/Montana state line. It should also be noted that in 2021-22 ITD is proposing a $22 million dollar budget for work at Targhee Pass.
Would it be fair to state that Ms. Seidler was hired for the purposes of advancing the same project for Targhee Pass as she helped to make a reality for the POP?
Making Sense of It All
This blog will help you make sense out of all the information on the website, how it affects IP, previous articles in the IP News, our history, and how efforts continue to put IP into various forms of conservation status.