Midwest Conservation Partnerships 'SWAP' Meet
By Valerie Rose Redmond
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined state partners and non-government agencies to swap ideas on how to improve upon State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP) for the greater Chicago metropolitan area, December 7.
The purpose of the SWAP meeting was to discuss a coordinated approach to revising state plans as they relate to the urban corridor from Milwaukee south through Chicago, Indiana and into the southwestern corner of Michigan. Existing state plans must meet congressional review requirements, and address elements such as threats, conservation action priorities, monitoring and public and partner engagement.
Craig Czarnecki, Assistant Regional Director for Science Applications, welcomed the regional alliance that included the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Lake County Forest Preserve, Chicago Field Museum, Michigan and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources, and Service staff from Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan.
Participants discussed how to approach conservation efforts concentrated in this area with coordination and the actions that need to be taken. Extensive work has already been done to protect and restore this urban setting, also known as the Chicago Wilderness. Valuable habitats and wildlife have been identified to improve the quality of life for people, wildlife and the land they live on. Attendees discussed landscape changes, geographies across organizational boundaries, and reviewed proposed projects and timelines to further these advancements.
Also in attendance was Assistant Regional Director for Migratory Birds and State Programs, Dave Scott. His leadership expertise in landscape-scale conservation is extensive.
"The importance of this meeting cannot be overstated," said Scott. "These large scale natural resource challenges require a networked approach in order to ensure sustainability which ultimately is our goal. Partnerships that facilitate conservation across boundaries where conservation challenges and threats are similar for shared species are crucial."
The deadline for competitive State Wildlife Grant proposals is March 27. Mike Sweet of the regional office's Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration was also on hand to answer any questions about the Service’s approval process for state funding.
Leadership in attendance also included John Rogner, Assistant Director of the Illinois DNR and Fish and Wildlife Director Mark Reiter of the Indiana DNR. "Their input was critical to the discussions that took place," said Sweet. "The meeting went well. I was very pleased and it was well worth everyone’s time and effort."