The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is accepting comments on a proposed update to the State Wildlife Action Plan, which identifies 268 fish and wildlife species with the greatest conservation needs.
The plan is open for comment through Sept. 11. The document is available online at wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/cwcs/.
“This updated plan is designed to guide agency priorities, research efforts and conservation actions over the next decade,” Fish and Wildlife’s wildlife diversity manager Penny Brecker said in a news release. “It will also qualify our state to continue receiving federal grants aimed at conserving fish and wildlife species at risk of decline.”
States must update wildlife action plans every 10 years to qualify for the State Wildlife Grant Program through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Since Fish and Wildlife passed the state’s first plan in 2005, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded $1.2 million in state wildlife grants each year, according to a news release.
The plans are intended to identify species facing threats, and prioritize habitat conservation projects that could benefit the state’s wildlife.
Several threatened species have been found in Skagit County, from insects such as the sasquatch snowfly and Beller’s ground beetle to wildcats such as the lynx.
According to the draft plan update, North Pacific Intertidal Freshwater Wetland, such as the Skagit River Delta, is important for species such as white-tailed deer, bats and several types of birds. About 90 percent of these habitats have been lost in Puget Sound, and those that remain often are plagued with invasive plants such as reed canarygrass and knotweed.
Some of the species included in the wildlife action plan update, particularly bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout, use these types of habitats,
The Oregon spotted frog, which was recognized as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in August 2014, has been found in a handful of Western Washington waters, including the Samish River, according to the plan.
Several other species in Skagit County are accustomed to higher elevation habitats such as in the North Cascades. Among those animals are the American pika and lynx, a wildcat species whose population is believed to have fallen to fewer than 100 in recent years.