The initiative has been titled the "National Fish Habitat Action Plan," and it includes strategies to protect, restore and enhance watersheds and waterways across the country.
"This is great news for South Dakota," said John Cooper, Secretary of South Dakota's Department of Game, Fish and Parks and also serves as president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. "By acting now to help protect the many fish and other plants and animals that live in these waters, and by restoring the waterways in need that are vital to our heritage, we are promising our children and grandchildren that these national treasures and resources will always be here for them to benefit from and to enjoy."
The plan supports many existing fish habitat partnerships, and it will foster new national and local efforts to address, measure, and communicate the status and needs of aquatic habitats. It serves as a blueprint for South Dakota based actions.
"We know if we want more fish in South Dakota, we need better habitat," Cooper said. "The National Fish Habitat Action Plan is the first-ever blueprint that addresses this reality on such a grand scale."
The action plan is focused and targeted toward fisheries protection, restoration and enhancement in key watersheds. It is based on a consolidation of the best scientific expertise on fisheries and habitat management.
"This is a historic event for Game, Fish and Parks," said Division of Wildlife Director Doug Hansen. "We are dedicated to making sure we have healthy fish and other aquatic creatures for years to come. It is no secret that the same South Dakota waters where these aquatic animals and plants live are the same waterways that people need and use. Clean water and healthy habitat are essential for people and wildlife, and with this announcement we've re-dedicated our local and national energy to achieving both."
Although fish habitat improvement programs are and will continue to be implemented locally in South Dakota and other states, each will be linked nationally to facilitate coordination and evaluation of nationwide progress. The action plan encourages sustainable actions and accountability, recognizing the need for long-term investments and real results. To date, the action plan has more than 450 national and local organizations supporting its efforts.
The National Fish Habitat Action Plan was released on Monday morning during "Congressional Casting Call 2006," an annual outreach and educational event on the banks of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.
For more information about the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, visit www.fishhabitat.org.