A bit over five years ago the U.S. Congress created the State Wildlife Grants Program, charging every state in the union to develop a "Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy" by October, 2005, as a condition for claiming a share of the money. All 50 states did, in fact, meet that deadline, and the CWCS documents that resulted are now available on state DNR web sites around the nation. They present an interesting study in contrasts.
I don't think that the federal government provided any formal definition of the words, "comprehensive" or "wildlife." But I've just completed a brief survey of the CWCS documents published by ten southeastern states, and I'm pleased to report that eight of the ten included freshwater gastropods among wildlife species considered worthy of special conservation concern.
In my review I recorded the total number of all species in all taxa listed by each state, as well as the number of freshwater gastropod species singled out for conservation priority. It seems to me that the ratio of freshwater gastropods-to-total-species might provide some estimate of the importance each state accords to its freshwater gastropod fauna, and perhaps, the likelihood that one of us might win some funding.
Here are the ten southeastern states, ranked by the conservation concern they directed toward their freshwater snails. The number in bold is the number of freshwater gastropod species listed, with total species (of all taxa) in the denominator that follows. I've also provided links to the relevant sites on the web pages for all ten state wildlife agencies:
- Alabama Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Species of greatest conservation need: 35 freshwater gastropods / 314 = 0.111
- Tennessee's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Species of greatest conservation need: 32 freshwater gastropods / 664 = 0.048
- A Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy for Georgia High priority species: 19 freshwater gastropods / 619 = 0.031
- North Carolina Wildlife Action Plan Prioritized for conservation: 10 freshwater gastropods / 371 = 0.027
- Virginia's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Species of greatest conservation need (all tiers): 17 freshwater gastropods / 925 = 0.018
- Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative Species of greatest conservation need: 15 freshwater gastropods / 974 = 0.015
- Arkansas Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy 5 species of greatest conservation need: 5 freshwater gastropods / 369 = 0.014
- South Carolina Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan Species of conservation concern: 4 freshwater gastropods / 1240 = 0.003
- Louisiana Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Species of concern: 0 freshwater gastropods / 240 = 0.0
- Mississippi's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Species of greatest conservation need: 0 freshwater gastropods / 297 = 0.0
It is interesting to note that fully half of the ten states I surveyed were cited as "Leaders" in the state wildlife conservation planning process by the Defenders of Wildlife, in an independent review commissioned by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Of the 12 states earning such recognition nationwide, five were in the South: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. See the report:
I would encourage each of you to contact whoever has been involved with developing the CWCP in your state to see what sort of funding opportunities might be available. Although many states are earmarking their State Wildlife Grant money for within-agency use, I do know that some states have been accepting outside proposals.
So good luck, and keep in touch!