State Wildlife Action Plan Updates Underway

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy, is updating the Tennessee State Wildlife Action Plan. The nationwide development of State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) in 2005 was a major milestone in fish and wildlife conservation.

The SWAPs are blueprints for conservation, assessing the health of each states’ wildlife habitat and species, identifying those of greatest conservation need, key threats and conservation actions needed to conserve wildlife and habitat before they become too rare or costly to restore. They are guideposts for conservation action and convey a vision about how resource managers plan to leave our country’s land, waters, fish and wildlife for future generations of Tennesseans. Taken as a whole, they present a national action agenda for preventing wildlife from becoming endangered. Congress mandated that state fish and wildlife agencies develop the plans to receive federal funding through the Stateand Tribal Wildlife Grants Program and that plans must be revised every 10 years.

In Tennessee, SWAP revision efforts began in Fall 2013 with the convening of a group of core planning team members and more than 30 species experts from across the state. Tennessee’s State Wildlife Action Plan looks at where species occur, as well as information about their rarity, mobility, and habitat preferences to evaluate habitats across the state. The TN SWAP is a plan that emphasizes habitat-based conservation, is aligned with the overall TWRA strategic plan, and dovetails with many other statewide conservation efforts. The TWRA is using the wildlife action plan update as an opportunity to complete the most comprehensive analysis of the state’s wildlife conservation needs to date. The first phase of the revision process has been focused on refining the technical elements of the plan and is now progressing toward an evaluation of TWRA’s strategic priorities.

This summer the SWAP update process continues. The planning team is reviewing new maps showing the habitat boundaries of Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). This is an integral step to identifying both state and region-wide conservation strategies and objectives to address key problems that are adversely affecting wildlife and habitats. Wildlife agencies across the country are developing management strategies to address climate change adaptation in these Plans.                                                 

To learn more about Tennessee’s conservation goals and the measures necessary to recover endangered species, restore unique habitats, keep rare and imperiled species off the endangered species list, and to keep common species common, visit the Tennessee State Wildlife Action Plan page at For questions about the TN SWAP update process or to make comments contact Bill Reeves, Chief of Biodiversity, 615 781-6645 or

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