Press Release: Rangewide SKR Plan
Riverside, CA – April 6, 2021 – The BLM contracted with the Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency (RCHCA) to assemble a team of experts consisting of the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, (BLM), Conservation Biology Institute (CBI), United States Fish and Wildlife (USFWS), San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SD Zoo), United States Geological Survey (USGS), and Department of Defense (DoD) to develop Southern California’s first Rangewide Management and Monitoring Plan (Plan) for Stephens' Kangaroo Rat (SKR). The Plan, when fully implemented, will facilitate a coordinated, science-informed effort to protect SKR and its habitat.
What is a Rangewide Management and Monitoring Plan for SKR?
The Rangewide Management and Monitoring Plan for SKR will be the first of its kind in Southern California. Intended to unify the various organizational efforts to protect SKR, the Plan standardizes methods for SKR management and monitoring, genetic diversity, coordinates resources, and provides a process to evaluate SKR recovery.
Why is it important?
The geographic range of SKR spans from Western Riverside County to Northern San Diego County, crossing not only county lines but also multiple reserves under different jurisdictions. This is why the Rangewide Management and Monitoring Plan is such a critical process – it unifies many years of SKR recovery efforts across more than 30 agencies by establishing a consistent management approach based on the needs of the species across its entire range. By combining data from the geographic range, we can confidently show indicators of SKR recovery, namely population dynamics and mitigate of threats to SKR populations.
How was the Plan developed?
BLM, in partnership with the DoD, awarded a $600,000 contract to RCHCA through the Recovery and Sustainment Partnership Initiative. RCHCA partnered with CBI to manage the working group of experts and leveraged their expertise to apply the latest science and technology, and identify solutions to various environmental and management challenges. USFWS provided coordination and support to develop the plan. RCHCA is also partnering with the SD Zoo to develop genetic research protocols and USGS for data management.
This project would not be possible without the funding support of the BLM, which provides national leadership to promote restoration, enhancement, and protection of fish and wildlife. In fact, BLM manages more fish, wildlife, and plant habitat than any other federal or state agency in the country. They have a particular interest in SKR recovery, as it is a Federally protected species and therefore requires every federal project to consider impacts to the species prior to any action taking place. BLM works with DoD through the Recovery and Sustainment Partnership Initiative. This initiative identifies listed species that occur on both BLM-managed public lands and military reservations, which aid in recovery by implementing various management actions. Similarly, the DoD must consider impacts to SKR prior to using portions of their bases or conducting training operations.
The SKR Rangewide Management and Monitoring Plan is vitally important to the future of SKR populations and it furthers the regions longstanding mission of conservation, collaboration, education, and coordination. For more information on the work that RCHCA undertakes, check out the Agency’s Conservation Conversation videos hosted on YouTube.
RCHCA is a joint powers authority consisting of 10 cities and the County of Riverside. The RCHCA manages over 40,000 acres of land conserved for the Stephens’ kangaroo rat, which is federally listed as an endangered species. The RCHCA has managed conserved lands within Southern California, specifically Western Riverside County, since 1996, and is proud to be celebrating its 25th Anniversary The RCHCA’s mission is to effectively manage conserved and open space lands in Riverside County. The RCHCA understands the importance of preserving the region's plants, animals, and natural communities and especially of creating a sense of public appreciation for the environment. The RCHCA is administered by Western Riverside Council Of Governments (WRCOG).
WRCOG is a joint powers authority, consisting of the County of Riverside, 18 cities, two regional water districts, and the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools. Its actions and activities are guided by its members. Recognizing that issues related to growth are not constrained by city or county boundaries, WRCOG focuses on a number of regional matters important to the future of Western Riverside County. By working together through its committee structure and utilizing existing resources, WRCOG is cost-effective by reducing duplication of effort and sharing information, enabling strong advocacy, and strengthening Western Riverside County’s standing in Southern California and the state. WRCOG’s program areas are varied and range from transportation to air quality, solid waste, environment, energy, economy, sustainability, and growth. For more information about WRCOG please visit http://www.wrcog.us/.
*Read the full Plan here.