$3.9 million has been committed to several wildlife research, conservation and habitat restoration projects during the conservation permit funding meeting on April 4.  

A recent Division of Wildlife Resources press release said that participating conservation groups help fund these larger projects through these permits. The Utah Conservation Permit Program began in 1980 and the Utah Wildlife Board allots a “small percentage of limited-entry and once-in-a-lifetime hunting permits” each year. They are called conservation and expo permits.  

Utah's Watershed Restoration Initiative has been a large part of many of the conservation projects with funding that comes from permits. As a Utah Department of Natural Resources partnership-based program, the WRI looks at improving watershed health and biological diversity, enhancing water quality and yield, bettering wildlife habitat, and more use of sustainable natural resources.  

There were more than 164,000 acres in Utah that saw improvement from WRI habitat projects in 2021 and 2022.  

Project proposals are due during the first week of January each year. Then the DNR and WRI committees determine which conservation and habitat projects are most needed. Conservation groups can also look over the projects and then decide during the permit funding meeting which projects to allocate funds to. 

"These projects help improve wildlife habitat and watershed health throughout the state, which helps our fish and wildlife populations in these areas," Utah's Watershed Restoration Initiative Program Director Tyler Thompson said. "These conservation permits and funds help make these important projects possible." 

During this year's meeting 85 projects were presented by DWR biologists and 79 of them were either partially or fully funded.  

Top 3 Projects to Receive Highest Funding: 

  • Utah Wildlife Migration Initiative-GPS tracking devices monitor fish and wildlife to view migration patterns and feeding grounds and then make improvements. The initiative was founded in 2017 and makes Utah the only state to include fish in its migration initiative. Over $186,000 was given in funding. 
  • Twelve-Mile Watershed Restoration Project-To better the Twelve-Mile Wildlife Management Area in Sanpete County, this project focuses on improving summer and winter range habitats for big game, reducing the risk of wildfire, bettering water quantity and quality, and stabilizing the soil. This area has experienced large mud slides in the past. This project was given over $162,000 in funding.  
  • Mohagany Ridge Bullhog Phase II-This is an ongoing project in its second phase. Targeting the Mohagany Ridge area in Cache County, pinyon pine and Utah juniper trees will be removed. Noxious weeds will be treated, and 363 acres will be aerial seeded with shrubs and native grasses. Over $147,000 was allocated to the project.  

Funds will become available July 1.  

Conservation VS Expo Permits 

Conservation permits are for the conservation and sportsman groups. The permits are auctioned off at banquets and fundraisers. 90 percent of the money is raised by conservation groups. The left-over 10 percent is used to help cover administrative costs.  

Expo permits are offered once per year through a drawing at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City. Residents and non-residents can apply for permits. There is a $5 fee for the application. Part of that goes to conservation groups to help pay for the event and the rest toward conservation efforts.  

Conservation permits have been helping conservation efforts across Utah since 2001, raising more than $59 million.  

Groups Who Participated This Year: 

  •  King's Camo 
  • Mule Deer Foundation 
  • National Wild Turkey Federation 
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation 
  • Safari Club International 
  • Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife 
  • Wildlife Conservation Foundation 
  • Utah Archery Association 
  • Utah Wild Sheep Foundation 
  • Utah's Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit Association 

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