Big-game animals in the American West today are increasingly squeezed by growing suburban areas, energy development, climate change, and an expanding road network—factors that are threatening the landscape connections that wildlife need to move to and from their seasonal feeding and breeding grounds. Sportsmen, biologists, scientists, and local communities are warning that unless policymakers identify and conserve migration corridors, certain wildlife will be at serious risk.
Last month, Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order that directs state agencies to prioritize protections for big game migratory corridors and winter ranges. I thank him for this much-needed action. It is sure to prove beneficial to wildlife, to motorists, and to our outdoor recreation economy. It also has important implications for how Colorado moves forward with oil and gas leasing.
Wildlife migration corridors and riparian areas are under threat from growing human populations. Colorado residents are fortunate to live in a state with spectacular outdoor opportunities, but we need to protect our special places and the species who live there.
Colorado’s sportsmen and women owe a big thank you to Gov. Jared Polis for prioritizing one of our state’s most valuable assets — our wildlife. By signing Executive Order 2019-011, the governor has acknowledged that animals like elk, mule deer, moose, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn need room to roam as our state continues to grow. The order directs the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Transportation to prioritize management of big game migration corridors and seasonal habitats — informed by the best available science.
Gov. Jared Polis recently took an important step to ensure that Colorado’s gorgeous landscapes, robust wildlife populations and thriving outdoor recreation economy will continue for generations to come. By issuing an executive order that directs state agencies to work together to protect critical migration corridors, Polis is helping to protect our Colorado outdoor heritage.
“My deep connection and cultural tie to the land is what strongly impacts my drive to protect it, and the wildlife that migrate to continue to thrive. However, their migration is often impeded by the urbanization of our state, and their routes have become segmented by roadways, or fences that can also jeopardize drivers.”
As conservation efforts around the state and the country have swelled in recent years, there’s a growing need for indigenous communities to be included in discussions around wildlife management.
The landscape is just a slice of an interconnected habitat stretching from central New Mexico to central Colorado. It’s home to migrating elk, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, mountain lions, lynx and black bears, as well as a wide range of bird and fish species.
Managing the checkered corridors of federal, state and private land that wildlife uses to migrate is a complicated endeavor, and the flight over Rio Grande del Norte last week showed just how many people must be involved.
Smiling broadly and gesturing overhead, Assistant U.S. House Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) told the audience about the flight he’d taken over the Río Grande del Norte National Monument: “I got a bird’s eye view from above and could easily see how all the communities are connected. We’re family.”
It turned out that his opening remarks would set the theme for the third annual Upper Río Grande Wildlife Corridors Summit, which took place Tuesday (Aug. 20), at Sagebrush Inn and Suites in Taos.
We were glad to see the San Miguel County Commission show its support for wildlife corridors at last week’s meeting. More so than many other places, this part of the country really cares about protecting wildlife and making sure every animal is safe. By having effective wildlife corridors that connect these populations without fear of human disturbances, all of the animals are more likely to be protected.