Rhode Island Wildlife Action Plan

What is a Wildlife Action Plan (WAP)?

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants (SWG) program was created by Congress in 2000 to fund actions to conserve declining fish and wildlife species before they become threatened or endangered. In order to be eligible for these matching grants, states must complete a State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) every 10 years. These proactive plans assess the health of each state's wildlife and habitats, identify the threats they face, and outline actions needed to conserve them over the long term.

Rhode Island's first-ever Wildlife Action Plan (formerly Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy) was adopted by the RI DEM and approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2005. It was part of an unprecedented national framework of similar plans developed by every US state and territory that together presented a national action agenda for preventing wildlife from becoming endangered.

2015 Rhode Island Wildlife Action Plan (RIWAP)

RI DEM, with assistance from the RI Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the University of Rhode Island, was the first state in the nation to publish its 10-year revision.  The 2015 RI WAP is a comprehensive plan that provides direction to and coordination of wildlife conservation efforts over the coming decade. Rhode Island is home to almost 900 vertebrate and an estimated 20,000 invertebrate wildlife species that range from the scenic coastline to upland and wetland forests. Included in this natural diversity are a suite of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish and invertebrates that the State has identified as species of greatest conservation need (SGCN).

Benefits that the RI WAP brings to the state include:

  • A comprehensive approach to wildlife conservation
  • Millions of dollars in matching funds for the conservation of non-game species and their habitats
  • New local and regional partnerships and increased support for statewide conservation priorities

Thank you to all of the many individuals and organizations who made the Plan as comprehensive as possible. We look forward to implementing it with your help!

The 2015 RIWAP includes Species and Habitat Profiles and a Community Wildlife Conservation Guide. While the chapters and appendices are provided as separate files for easy downloading and navigation, there are bookmarks throughout to allow easy navigation within and between the documents.

Download all components of the 2015 RIWAP. *Note: this zip file is large (~67MB), and may take some time to download.

Wildlife Needs You! (Tools to Get Started)

Working Together

As part of the 2015 RI WAP revision process, RI DEM solicited input from key local, state, and regional stakeholders and the public in order to foster an inclusive and transparent process, create shared ownership of the plan, and include a broad range of experiences, expertise, and ideas.

If conservation is to be successful, however, we can’t stop there! The RI DEM recognizes the need to put the RI WAP into action in communities where conservation and land use decisions are made every day. As part of this effort to facilitate conservation actions for wildlife, DEM and its partners have added tools to help communities use the 2015 RI WAP more effectively. 

These include:

Species and Habitat Profiles

User-friendly fact sheets for species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) and key habitats, which contain brief descriptions, photos, distribution maps, status information, and threats and actions.

Conservation Opportunity Areas (COA) mapping

COAs include large, contiguous Core Natural Areas, Corridors that connect them, and Sites having one or more unique value deserving protection.  Collectively, these three elements provide wildlife with sufficient room to move within and among suitable habitats and are critical to safeguarding RI’s full suite of key species and habitats. COAs are an important addition to a set of mapping tools that continue to evolve with new and more specific information. Rhode Island Conservation Opportunity Areas can be found in the RIDEM Map Room Gallery or downloaded for use with a desktop GIS.

RI WAP Community Wildlife Conservation Guide

A functional guide to help local planners, conservation groups, and citizens make sound land use, development, and management decisions.

Workshops and events

The RI WAP Community Liaison is available to speak with municipalities and conservation groups. If you are interested in setting up an informal meeting or have ideas for a workshop, please email dem.riwap@dem.ri.gov.

Educational Materials for Citizens of all ages

Collaboration is the key to our success. We want to hear from you!

The RI WAP Community Liaison is a collaborative project of the Rhode Island Natural History Survey and the DEM undertaken to promote participation by municipalities and other community interests in the development and implementation of the 2015 RI WAP. Please contact the RI WAP Community Liaison for additional information.