Friday, January 11, 2019

The Association Commends the Service for Opening 38 Refuges

PRESS RELEASE


Washington D.C. (January 9, 2019)- The Association of Fish & Wildlife agencies learned yesterday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), for the next 30 days, using previously appropriated funds, will bring back a limited number of employees to resume work on high priority projects and activities at 38 National Wildlife Refuges. 

“The Association would like to thank Acting Secretary David Bernhardt for continuing to meet our community’s priorities and needs with the limited resources and authorities at hand during the partial federal government shutdown,” said Ed Carter, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “The opening of these National Wildlife Refuges will also bring economic benefits to local communities.”

During the partial federal shutdown, the Service has been able to keep parts of some National Wildlife Refuges accessible to the public where the presence of federal employees or contractors is not required.  The Service is adding “additional staff to support scheduled events and other public uses on 38 selected refuges based on criteria that takes into consideration visitation during the month of January, opportunities, including hunting [and fishing], that would otherwise be limited or unavailable during this time, and protection, management and security of public resources.”

Those refuges affected are:
Region 1
               Midway Atoll (HI)
               Kilauea Point (HI)
               Tualatin River (OR)
               Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually (WA)

Region 2
               Laguna Atascosa (TX)
               Lower Rio Grande Valley (TX)
               Santa Ana (TX)
               Anahuac (TX)
               McFaddin (TX)
               Bosque del Apache (NM)
               Wichita Mountains (OK)
               Valle de Oro (NM)

Region 3
               Minnesota Valley (MN)
               Fergus Falls WMD (MN)
               DeSoto (IA)
               Great River (MO)
               Clarence Cannon (MO)
               Mingo (MO)

Region 4
               Crystal River (FL)
               J.N. Ding Darling (FL)
               Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee (FL)
               Merritt Island (FL)
               Wheeler (AL)

Region 5
               John Heinz (PA)
               Wertheim (NY)
               Bombay Hook (DE)
               Parker River (MA)
               Umbagog (NH)

Region 6
               Rocky Mountain Arsenal (CO)
               Bear River (UT)

Region 8
               Sacramento (CA)
               Delevan (CA)
               Colusa (CA)
               Sutter (CA)
               San Luis (CA)
               Merced (CA)
               Kern (CA)
               Pixley (CA)
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The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.


Download our press release here

Monday, December 17, 2018

Press Release: Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Commends Congress for Passing the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018

December 17, 2018

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (Association) applauds the passage the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 by Congress, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill (HR2). The Farm Bill is the single largest federal investment for conservation on private lands in the nation and is critical to state fish and wildlife agencies for conserving and improving millions of acres of habitat through voluntary efforts that can also provide opportunities for hunting and angling.

“We applaud and thank Chairman Roberts, Chairman Conaway, Ranking Member Stabenow, and Ranking Member Peterson for listening to the needs of farmers, ranchers, and the conservation community by working together to pass a Farm Bill that has a strong conservation title which is needed to conserve our natural resources while keeping working lands working,” said Ed Carter, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

The 2014 Farm Bill expired September 30, 2018, and many provisions have been in a state of flux since then.  The Senate and House Agriculture Committees spent much time this Congress listening to the needs of farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and the wildlife conservation community to carefully craft and pass a conference report that is welcomed by many.

“This Farm Bill is extremely important for conservation – it provides much needed resources and policy improvements for private agricultural producers that are also a good fit with fish, wildlife, soil, and water conservation. Further, the conference report aligns well with the Association’s 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization priorities. We greatly appreciate the many long hours and deep dedication exhibited by our Members of Congress, their staffs, and the conservation organizations that helped make this Farm Bill a reality,” said Jim Douglas, Director of Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and chair of the Association’s Agriculture Conservation Committee.

“We look forward to enactment of this critical piece of legislation and rolling up our sleeves and getting to work with our partners at the US Department of Agriculture to craft rules for implementing the newly enacted provisions,” said Ron Regan Executive Director of the Association.

Notable conservation benefits provided in the 2018 Farm Bill include:

  • The Conservation Reserve Program will provide contracts for 27 million acres of private land by 2023, allocating around $2 billion annually for farmers to remove environmentally sensitive land from their agricultural production to improve the land quality.
  • The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program will provide $450 million per year (totaling $2.25 billion over five years) for financial assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands.
  • The Voluntary Public Access - Habitat Improvement Program (VPA-HIP) will include $50 million total to enable state/tribal governments to increase public access to private lands for recreational opportunities and enhance fish/wildlife habitats.
  • The Environmental Quality Incentives Program will allocate $9.2 billion over five years to allow agricultural producers to plan and implement conservation practices to improve soil, water, and fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which will provide $300 million annually ($1.5 billion total), the Natural Resources Conservation Service will help producers increase restoration and sustainable use of natural resources by implementing and maintaining conservation practices across landscapes.
  • The Conservation Stewardship Program will allocate $3.9 billion over five years to help agricultural producers improve conservation systems.
  • The bill also includes $75 million in mandatory funding to control and eradicate feral swine populations in the US and a provision to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires by renewing the insect and disease categorical exclusion and expanding its purpose to allow for expedited reduction of hazardous fuels.
  • Additionally, the bill includes an important categorical exclusion for restoring and rehabilitating sagebrush habitat for the benefit of sage-grouse and mule deer.

One of the new priorities for USDA Agricultural Research and Extension is to provide grants to land grant colleges and universities that have established deer research programs for the purposes of treating, mitigating, or eliminating chronic wasting disease

Friday, December 7, 2018

Webinar- Clean air and water, human health, and economic benefits: How bird conservation benefits some of the things Americans value most -- and how we spread that message.

Wildlife Viewing & Nature Tourism Working Group 
2018 Fall Webinar Series

Stay warm this weekend and mark your calendars for the next webinar in the Wildlife Viewing & Nature Tourism series: Clean air and water, human health, and economic benefits:How bird conservation benefits some of the things Americans value most -- and how we spread that message.

December 18, 2018 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. EST

Featuring our ‘own’ Greg Butcher, Migratory Species Coordinator for U.S. Forest Service International Programs; and Steven Albert, Assistant Director for Demographic Monitoring Programs at the Institute for Bird Populations (IBP) at Point Reyes Station, CA.

This webinar will describe the origin and mission of NABCI (North American Bird Conservation Initiative), discuss Bird Conservation Relevancy examples that NABCI has gathered, and discuss how these might be used to reach a diverse audience with a message about the benefits of bird conservation.

Download the flyer here.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Webinar: Using eBird Data to Provide Useable Metrics

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’
Wildlife Viewing and Nature Tourism Working Group
2018 Fall Webinar Series

Using eBird’s Data to Provide Useable Metrics

November 13, 2018 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. EST

Nature tourism projects are often a tough sell, partially because success is difficult to measure. Hard data on wildlife watcher activity (e.g., birdwatchers) often requires expensive, rigorous human dimensions surveys. The eBird service provides a free, wildly-popular, and easily-accessible method for the general public to log and view bird sightings. eBird not only informs an improved understanding of bird distribution, but also the location and activity of the birders themselves. For example, in North Carolina alone, 3,748 eBirders spent 72,102 hours completing 68,679 checklists in 2017. Scott will present the benefits and caveats of harnessing the massive and open-access eBird Basic Dataset (EBD) to devise visitation metrics for sites, cities, communities, or regions. These data have the potential to provide a low-cost method to inform marketing strategies and provide measures of effectiveness for bird tourism programs.

Presented By: Scott Anderson

Scott grew up in Texas, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut before attending University of Delaware and earning a BS in Environmental Science. After spending 3 years working field jobs on northern goshawk, three-toed woodpecker, burrowing owl, and marine mammals, Scott worked as a database manager and computer software trainer. To move back towards a career in the natural sciences, Scott completed an MS in Wildlife Science from Oregon State University investigating foraging habits of Caspian terns in the Columbia River Estuary. After graduation, he began as a database manager for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Scott is currently a statewide bird biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (ncwildlife.org) and coordinator of the NC Birding Trail (ncbirdingtrail.org).

Connection:
Join the webinar at fwc.adobeconnect.com/wildlifeviewing (sign in as guest, with first and last name, no password required).
Conference call audio: 888-670-3525
Participant code: 835-369-4269

Download flyer here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Strategist: Fall 2018 Edition

Articles include brief updates on the 2018-2019 AFWA Officers & Executive Committee; Legislative Updates; 2018 AFWA Annual Awards; Recovering America's Wildlife Act; International Updates, and Business Meeting Resolutions.

Download the Fall 2018 Edition of The Strategist here.




Tuesday, October 9, 2018

21st International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species, October 27-31, 2019



SAVE THE DATE!
International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species (ICAIS) 2019 will be the premier scientific conference on aquatic invasive species issues that will offer new experiences for all participants, plus unique professional development opportunities for students and young professionals.

Key topics that will be covered during next year’s conference include:
  • Conservation and restoration
  • Predictive ecology and risk assessment
  • Ecophysiology and adaptive evolution of invaders
  • Advances in invasion theory
  • Effects of multiple stressors on invasion success and impact
  • Impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems
  • New developments in management and control
  • Policy and public outreach


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Science Does Guide Wildlife Management in North America: Scientists and Conservation Leaders Respond to Artelle et al.


October 3, 2018

Today, Science Advances publishes a formal response entitled ‘Artelle et al. (2018) Miss the Science Underlying North American Wildlife Management’. This response, authored by a broad group of scientists, wildlife managers, and conservation professionals in the United States and Canada, reveals the unfortunate errors in the Artelle et al. article which inaccurately concluded that state and provincial fish and wildlife agencies in North America are managing wildlife without using science. 

“We are happy to report that state and provincial fish and wildlife management is indeed guided by a broad range of scientific information, deployed by individuals who have extensive scientific training, in order to conserve our nations natural resources for future generations,” said Ed Carter, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.  “Our state fish and wildlife agencies use all means at their disposal to manage and conserve their most valuable resources, our fish and wildlife, along with clean air, water, healthy forests and agricultural lands that support all of us.”

Artelle et al. (2018) Miss the Science Underlying North American Wildlife Management highlights several key errors in the original Artelle et al. paper.  First, Artelle et al. confuse the process of conducting scientific research with the process of managing wildlife or other natural resources: while wildlife and natural resource management is informed by science, management activities may not always conform to the same principles and format as a scientific research project.  Furthermore, the primary source of information for the Artelle et al. paper was a series of wildlife management reports and documents that they downloaded from agency websites; these authors did not actually meet with state and provincial wildlife agency managers to learn how science is applied in real-world wildlife management.  Artelle et al. identified a set of “hallmarks of science” and then examined their collection of documents and reports from agency websites to see if these “hallmarks” appeared in these management documents.  Artelle et al. mistakenly concluded that an absence of their “hallmarks of science” from agency documents meant that these documents are not grounded in science, when in fact scientific information is considered by wildlife managers at each step in the decision-making process.   

The Association would like to acknowledge the authors of Artelle et al. (2018) Miss the Science Underlying North American Wildlife Management: Jonathan R. Mawdsley (AFWA), John F. Organ (USGS), Daniel J. Decker (Cornell University), Ann B. Forstchen (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), Ronald J. Regan (AFWA), Shawn J. Riley (Michigan State University), Mark S. Boyce (University of Alberta), John E. McDonald Jr. (The Wildlife Society), Chris Dwyer (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and Shane P. Mahoney (Conservation Visions).



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The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.


Job Announcement- Open Recruitment for Director of Leadership Development


The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) is seeing a Director of Leadership Development based out of the AFWA offices at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. The selected candidate will lead the Association’s leadership development offerings focusing on three key areas: (1) State agency multi‐level leadership products and services including online offerings and regional adaptive leadership workshops; (2) State agency focused leadership level consulting and training; (3) Conservation community‐wide engagement through the National Conservation Training Center. The selected candidate will ensure that these offerings are meeting the needs of AFWA’s members and our conservation partners and that they are successfully implemented through effective operations, management and staff leadership.

Click here to download the full Director of Leadership Development Job Announcement.

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, founded in 1902, represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies. It promotes sound management and conservation and speaks with a collective voice on important fish and wildlife issues. The Association is a nonprofit, 501(c)(6) trade association. See www.fishwildlife.org for more information.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Ed Carter Elected 2018-2019 President of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

September 21, 2018

The membership of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies elected Ed Carter, Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), as its new president during its 108th Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida.

In accepting AFWA’s Presidency, Carter reflected on the critical importance of the Recovering America's Wildlife Act as well as all the accomplishments made by the Association over the past year under the leadership of Past-President Virgil Moore, Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

“Thank you for this opportunity and honor to serve in this capacity,” said Carter. “I am looking forward to personally working with all of the state and federal agencies, partners, and friends towards our common conservation goals. It is of great importance that we work together to conserve the fish and wildlife that are among this nation’s most valuable resources, along with clean air, water, healthy forests and agricultural lands that support all of us.”

Other priorities on Carter’s agenda include passage of The Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act, engagement with federal ESA issues, and Chronic Wasting Disease. Carter also plans to continue efforts towards strengthening partnerships and increasing our efforts on hunting, shooting sports, angling and boating recruitment, retention and reactivation initiatives.

Carter will serve as AFWA President through September 2019.

“Ed Carter is a true leader in conservation with a wealth of knowledge and experience,” stated Virgil Moore, Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and 2017-2018 President of the Association of the Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “Ed brings new energy and insights that will be invaluable to the Association and its members as we forge ahead through the challenges of today.”

Carter’s career began with the TWRA in 1972. He served as an education representative, hunter education coordinator, education and law enforcement training officer and a Region II assistant regional manager over the 25 counties of middle Tennessee. . He became TWRA’s Chief of the Boating Division when the division was formed in 1990. TWRA is the sole state agency charged with the responsibility for boating safety and law enforcement. Carter was named the Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in 2009.

“Ed Carter has been a true champion of wildlife and conservation for more than 46 years,” said Kurt Holbert, Vice Chair of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission. “I have no doubt that he will continue to make Tennessee proud by leading the advancement of those interests on a national scale. “

Ed carter has chaired numerous AFWA committees and task forces during his tenure in Tennessee. He will also receive the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Meritorious Award, the Institute’s highest and most prestigious award, later this month.

A native of Hawkins County, Carter is a graduate of the University of Tennessee. He and his wife of 44 years, Karen, have three adult children Mark, Tracie, and Christie.

The full list of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies elected 2018-2019 Officers and Executive Committee:

President: Ed Carter, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Vice President: Glenn Normandeau, New Hampshire Fish & Game Department

Secretary/Treasurer: Gordon Myers, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Past President: Virgil Moore, Idaho Fish & Game Department

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Chair: Bob Broscheid, Colorado Division of Parks & Wildlife

Vice Chair: Sara Parker Pauley, Missouri Department of Conservation

Members:
Mark Reiter, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Jim Douglas, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
Kelly Hepler, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department
Carter Smith, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Cathy Sparks, Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management
Tony Wasley, Nevada Department of Wildlife

EX OFFICIO VOTING MEMBERS Canada: Travis Ripley, Alberta Environment & Parks

REGIONAL ASSOCIATION MEMBERS
Midwest: Terry Steinwand, North Dakota Game and Fish Department

Northeast: Jim Connolly, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

Southeast: Chuck Sykes, Alabama Division of Wldlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Western: Curt Melcher, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

AFWA Applauds Interior’s Reaffirmation of States' Primary Role in Fish and Wildlife Management

September 19, 2018
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies applauds the memorandum issued by Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke, on September 10, which reaffirms the primary authority of state fish and wildlife agencies to manage fish and wildlife within their borders, including on DOI land.  The Memorandum states ‘The Department recognizes States as the first-line authorities for fish and wildlife management and hereby expresses its commitment to defer to the States in this regard except as otherwise required by Federal law.’
The memorandum is based on a policy, adopted in 1983, that recognized the primary state authority regarding fish and resident wildlife in the absence of specific, overriding federal law (43 C.F.R Part 24). The memorandum was announced last week by DOI Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Aurelia Skipwith, at the annual meeting of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.  In this announcement, Skipwith stated that this memorandum is intended to clarify the relationship between the states and the DOI bureaus and offices, to strengthen the joint state-federal conservation partnership, and to enhance public opportunities to enjoy the benefits of the Nation’s fish and wildlife.
The memorandum includes three key action items:

  • Within 45 days of this Memorandum, all Bureaus and Offices complete a review of all regulations, policies, and guidance that pertains to the conservation and management of fish and wildlife species on lands and waters under their jurisdiction that are more restrictive than otherwise applicable State provisions for the management of fish and wildlife, including all such regulations, policies, and guidance that pertain to public recreational use and enjoyment of fish and wildlife species;
  • Within 90 days, each Bureau and Office referenced provide the Deputy Secretary a report containing detailed recommendations for the respective Bureau or Office to better align its regulations, policies, and guidance with State provisions.
  • After receiving the reports containing detailed recommendations, the Deputy Secretary shall appropriately consult with the State fish and wildlife agencies regarding the recommendations and deliver an implementation plan to me within 120 days of this Memorandum.
Ed Carter, President of the Association, expressed gratitude for this important statement and that “he is looking forward to working with the DOI bureaus in furthering our collaborative commitment to our nation’s great outdoor recreational heritage and conservation stewardship.”

AFWA Honors its 2018 Annual Awards Recipients

September 19, 2018
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) recognized nine individuals, two state agencies, one cooperative agency, and one private landowner for their dedication to advancing fish and wildlife conservation at the Association’s Annual Awards Ceremony held on September 11, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.
SETH GORDON AWARD
Keith Sexson received AFWA’s top honor, the Seth Gordon Award for lifetime achievement in conserving North America’s natural resources in the public trust and contributing to the programs of the Association. 
Keith Sexson has dedicated 50 years to the advancement of professional wildlife management in Kansas and beyond. First and foremost, within his career, there has been a dedication to Kansas and the heritage and traditions of natural resource management in the state. He found ways to advance wildlife conservation under varying administrations, ever-changing social and political pressures, and technological and industrial progress.  
As Mr. Sexson saw opportunities to impact larger areas and ever increasing complex issues of regional and national importance, he expanded his horizons and became a leader on the regional and national stage. He has been active within the Midwest, Western and Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and continuously works to find acceptable compromises which advance natural resource conservation.
JOHN L. MORRIS AWARD
Bruce Culpepper, CEO, Shell, United States, of Houston, Texas, received AFWA’s John L. Morris Award which recognizes a lifetime commitment to fish and wildlife stewardship by citizen conservationists who have exhibited exemplary leadership at the highest level and demonstrated a steadfast commitment to large scale natural resource challenges.
An avid outdoorsman, Bruce Culpepper, grew up on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama and was a typical country kid. His keen interest in land and water conservation laid the foundation for the conservation ethic he’s brought to his professional career.   Mr. Culpepper was a founding member of the Coastal Conservation Association’s Building Conservation Trust marine habitat program, which has put millions of dollars into restoring coastal marshes and building critically important oyster reefs. He was a member of the national Blue Ribbon Panel  on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources.  He has also been a Board leader with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, the nonprofit funding partner of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Through his time on the Board, the Foundation acquired the iconic 17,351-acre Powderhorn Ranch for establishment of a state park and wildlife management area, as well as secured vital funding for the Texas Game Warden Training Center.
Mr. Culpepper has created a lasting legacy in the conservation arena though his unique ability to organize and galvanize corporate and private partners for the cause of natural resource conservation.
ERNEST THOMPSON SETON AWARD
The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study received AFWA’s Earnest Thompson Seton Award for leadership in scientific management. The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) has afforded state fish and wildlife agencies with far greater capabilities for wildlife health monitoring and investigation than could be attained singularly.
The research accomplishments of SCWDS have been recognized nationally and internationally. The parasites and diseases affecting every major game mammal and upland game bird, as well as numerous nongame species, in the Southeast have been studied by researchers at SCWDS. These studies have practical application in wildlife management, domestic livestock and poultry production and public health policy.
The achievements of SCWDS are most impressive, and they provide great value to wildlife professionals, agricultural interests and public health officials throughout the country. Dr. John Fischer, Director for SCWDS, accepted this prestigious award on behalf of SCWDS.  
BOONE AND CROCKETT CLUB AWARD
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) for their ‘Protect The Lakes You Love’ Aquatic Invasive Species Public Awareness Campaign, is the recipient of this year’s Boone and Crockett Award, which honors an agency and team leader for outstanding achievement in promoting and encouraging outdoor ethics.
The ‘Protect The Lakes You Love’ Aquatic Invasive Species Public Awareness Campaign whose goal is to prevent the spread of invasive species, specifically Zebra Mussels and Giant Salvinia, to un-infested water bodies by motivating boaters to always properly clean, drain, and dry their watercrafts after they leave the lake and before traveling to another lake.
The campaign has been very well-received and has increased awareness amongst boaters of the importance of doing the right thing and always practicing “Clean, Drain and Dry” every time they leave a waterbody. In two instances boaters have also reported zebra mussels to TPWD and attributed their awareness of the invasive species to TPWD’s boater awareness campaign. TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith and Nature Tourism Manager Shelly Plante accepted the award on behalf of team leader Carly Montez.
MARK J. REEFF MEMORIAL AWARD
Devin DeMario with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is the Mark Reeff Memorial Award recipient for the outstanding young wildlife management professional under age 35. Ms. DeMario has done tremendous job of establishing relationships with key individuals and becoming familiar with important (and complex) issues. Importantly, this person also acts as a catalyst for communication and relationship building amongst fishery chiefs and other agency staff, while demonstrating remarkable courage when engaging challenging issues. Devin’s leadership and dedication is a true asset to AFWA and the state’s fisheries program’s throughout the United States.
CONSERVATION LAW ENFORCEMENT AWARD
This award goes to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Law Enforcement, specifically the hard work of South Region Bravo, “Operation Thimblerig”, Lieutenant Jose Escabi, Lieutenant Jeremy Munkelt, Investigator Danielle Munkelt, and Officer Adam Garrison.
Numerous Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers played key roles in the two-year undercover operation dubbed "Operation Thimblerig," which exposed a large-scale fraud, theft and forgery operation responsible for a complex web of criminal activity centered around the South Florida commercial fishing industry.
PRIVATE LANDS FISH AND WILDLIFE STEWARDSHIP AWARD
This year’s recipient of AFWA’s Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award is Dr. Kent Forney and the Forney Ranch for their proactive conservation and environmental practices and exhibiting outstanding stewardship of fish and wildlife resources.

The Forney ranch was homesteaded in 1906 by Hubert Forney and eventually passed on to son Don Forney. The ranch was incorporated in the 1960s with the stockholders being Don and Oliva Forney's children: Kent (Veterinarian), Glen (Surgeon, ret.), Bruce (Doctor), Dean (Attorney) and Joann (Rancher). Today it encompasses approximately 34,000 acres. The land use today includes agriculture, ranching, wildlife and fisheries. The management effects to the overall productivity and aesthetics are impressive.  Abundant wildlife inhabits the properties including Mule deer, Whitetail deer, elk, Mountain lion, turkey, bobcat, pronghorn, pheasant, waterfowl, coyote as well as many other furbearers, game/non-game species. Sandage prairie is a Tier 1species in the Nebraska Natural Legacy Plan and the largest known population of these species in the state is on the Forney property.   
Past and current property uses have involved the public through youth turkey, deer and pheasant hunts. Limited hunting and fishing is also allowed on much of the property. The Forney family has been committed to the conservation of wildlife over many years both on their ranches and in their willingness to serve on local, state, and national conservation boards. They have worked hard to find the balance of a working ranch with the benefits to wildlife and have consistently provided advocacy of conservation minded stewardship both on their own land and sharing their passion with others.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARDS
The Association presented three special recognition awards for outstanding commitment to the work of AFWA to Dr. Stephen Torbit, the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program, and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.
Over the past several years, Dr. Torbit has strived to collaborate with state resource management partners to identify and support shared wildlife management priorities and facilitating the ability for the USFWS and the States to obtain key scientific information across the 8-state Mountain-Prairie Region, as well as the broader 11-state sagebrush ecoregion- one of the most significant ecosystems in the west. Specific examples of Dr. Torbit's conservation leadership include multiple collaborative efforts working with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) to coordinate science within and across agencies, fill key data gaps, and provide decision support capability for both the Service and State agencies. His exemplary efforts and dedication to science-based cross-agency collaboration, Dr. Stephen Torbit's work is especially relevant to AFWA's mission to advance sound, science­ based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest.
The Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program demonstrated outstanding commitment to the recovery of the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot through the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  After each event, without hesitation, even after personally suffering the impacts from the hurricanes on their families and property, these Service employees stepped up working tirelessly under harsh conditions and with limited resources to safe guard the captive parrot population at the lguaca Aviary, restored the damaged facilities and conducted surveys to locate wild parrots.  They also provided assistance to the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, struggling to repair its own aviary after the storm.
In December 2017 Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI) introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (HR4647). This legislation is a top priority of the Association and would implement the first recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife. If the Act becomes law, it would provide states with $1.3 billion in annual funding to implement State Wildlife Action Plans. Congressman Fortenberry and Congresswoman Dingell have worked diligently to secure more than 90 co-sponsors on the bill. They worked with House Natural Resources Committee leadership to hold a hearing on the bill in February 2018. The Association and many of its partners have been working on securing dedicated funding to conserve the full array of fish and wildlife for more than four decades. Passage of this legislation would fulfill that long sought goal and be a game changer for state-based fish and wildlife conservation aimed at preventing endangered species.
Introduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is only the latest example of Congressman Fortenberry’s and Congresswoman Dingell’s leadership on conservation.

U.S. House Passes The Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act

September 14, 2018- The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies applauds passage, in the U.S. House of Representatives, of bipartisan legislation to modernize the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (HR 2591). Without increasing taxes or existing user fees, this bill clarifies that the Pittman-Robertson fund can be used by state fish and wildlife agencies for outreach, communication, and education of hunters and recreational target shooters, including focused efforts on the recruitment, retention, and reactivation of hunters and recreational shooters through R3 initiatives. 
“HR 2591 will give state fish and wildlife agencies the flexibility to meet the needs of our constituents while allowing us to continue to meet our wildlife conservation objectives,” said Ed Carter, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “This bill with help ensure that funding for wildlife conservation will keep pace with the demands of our citizens and our communities.”
 
“With a national decline in outdoor recreational activities, Pittman-Robertson funds are shrinking and our state and local habitats are suffering, which is why I have been fighting to give states more flexibility in how they use their PR funds and hopefully attract more Americans to the outdoors in the process,” said Rep. Scott. “I am very pleased the House passed my PR modernization bill, and I thank Chairman Rob Bishop for his commitment to this legislation as well as to sportsmen and women across the country. As this bill heads to be considered in the Senate, I will keep pressing until our decades-old wildlife conservation funding model receives the critical updates it deserves.”
The Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act (HR 2591) passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources by unanimous consent on May 8, 2018. The full House approved the Bill on September 12, 2018. A companion bill awaits action in the Senate. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Webinar for State Fish and Wildlife Agencies on Proposed ESA Regulation Revisions


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries Propose Changes to Improve Implementation of Endangered Species Act

What: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries (Services) are proposing revisions to portions of their regulations that implement two key sections of the Endangered Species Act. The changes are part of an ongoing effort to improve implementation of the ESA so that it is clear and consistent, and provides the maximum degree of regulatory certainty.

The proposed changes incorporate industry innovation, best science, and best practices to improve reliability, safety, and environmental stewardship. The proposals reflect President Trump’s Executive Order aimed at reducing the regulatory burden on citizens and industry, while simultaneously encouraging collaborative conservation from a broad range of partners to make the ESA as effective as possible in achieving its goal – recovery of our most imperiled species to the point they no longer need federal protection.

You can learn more about the proposed revisions at https://www.fws.gov/endangered/improving_ESA/regulation-revisions.html. In addition, we will host a webinar for our State agency partners on the proposed revisions. Below is the information on how to access the webinar. 

Who: State Agency partners
           
When: July 25, 2018; 3:00 PM EST

How: Conference Call and Webinar

Number: 888-324-8019
Passcode: 9210600
Participants can join the event directly at: 
Please be prepared to provide your name and affiliation.





Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Webinar: Integrating dynamic vegetation models with bird abundance models to identify priorities for avian conservation and habitat management

Abstract: Managers and decision makers recognize that successful climate-smart conservation strategies must focus on a broad range of future scenarios that represent and anticipate changes in climate, habitat types and species assemblages. Past attempts to model changes in bird habitat distributions relied on statistical models of vegetation change under climate change scenarios. While these statistical models fit present-day vegetation biogeography well, they assume that current vegetation are in equilibrium with climate, fail to account for non-analog climates in the future, and provide little insight into mechanisms of change under climate change scenarios. Dynamic general vegetation models (DGVM) simulate mechanisms of vegetation response to climate, which increase our confidence in estimating vegetation response to non-analog climate. However, the coarse spatial resolution of DGVM output presents a barrier for use in simulating avian habit distributions. We developed a methodology for combining the coarse DGVM projections with a finer-scale statistical distribution models to generate projections of future bird distributions across Oregon and Washington. The DGVM-based approach produces projections of avian habitat distributions that are markedly different from those relying on statistical correlations alone. The DGVM-based avian habitat projections expand the set of future conditions for managers to contemplate. We demonstrate how land managers can view and explore the results on an interactive website, to make climate-smart conservation decisions.

Contacts: Monica Tomosy (mstomosy@fs.fed.us) and John Rothlisberger (jrothlisberger@fs.fed.us)

Speakers:
Dr. John Kim
Biological Scientist,

Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center & PNW Research Station, US Forest Service

Dr. Leo Salas
Senior Scientist,
Climate Change & Quantitative Ecology, Point Blue Conservation Science

Date: Thursday, April 26, 2018
Time: 2 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Central/ 12 p.m. Mountain/11 a.m. Pacific

To join the webinar:
Step 1: Dial-In: 800.768.2983, access code: 8383462
Step 2: Web Login: https://cc.callinfo.com/r/18tqyjwu8enno&eom


Friday, March 9, 2018

Webinar- A Fish's Eye View: Snorkeling Freshwater Streams in the U.S.

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ 
Wildlife Viewing and Nature Tourism Working Group
2018 Webinar Series


Date: April 17, 2018
Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT

Description: We often perceive that there isn’t much to see beneath the surface of our nation’s freshwater rivers and streams, but once we look underwater, an amazing world appears. Fish of incredibly diverse colors, shapes and behaviors live in freshwater ecosystems. The streams themselves create otherworldly, breathtaking streamscapes, giving humans willing to submerge themselves the opportunity to witness incredible ecological feats such as thousand-mile fish migrations, predator-prey interactions, or the vibrant colors of mating displays. The underwater world of our rivers and streams is unexpected, largely unnoticed and amazing! They are thriving aquatic communities, composed of subjects intimately tied to one another and to humans through an aquatic matrix.

Snorkeling establishes powerful connections between people and rivers, and is one of the most intimate interactions we can have with a river, experiencing the movement and organisms of a moving water body on its own terms. Snorkeling allows us to bond with subjects that are intertwined in these aquatic communities, granting us new perspectives and reasons to care about the importance of clean water. The ways in which rivers, and the creatures that live in them, are woven into our cultural and natural heritage become apparent.

Join underwater naturalist Keith Williams and share his adventures of exploring and discovering the underwater world of our nation’s rivers and streams. Keith will discuss how to establish successful river snorkeling programs to encourage fish watching.

Connection:
Join the webinar at fwc.adobeconnect.com/
wildlifeviewing (sign in as guest, with first
and last name, no password required).
Conference call audio: 888-670-3525
Participant code: 835-369-4269

Download the Flyer Here.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and partners seek nominations for Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards


Nominations due by April 13
  

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and its members and partners are seeking nominations for the Climate Adaptation Leadership Award (Award) which recognizes outstanding efforts to increase the resilience of America’s valuable living natural resources and the many people, businesses and communities that depend on them.

The Climate Award Leadership Award was established in 2016 to recognize exemplary leadership by individuals, agencies, businesses and other organizations to reduce impacts and advance adaptation of the nation’s vital natural resources in a changing world.

Previous Award recipients for 2016 and 2017 have been recognized for outstanding leadership in resource management, science, education, training and other goals of the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy.

Nominations will be accepted until April 13. Individuals, groups, organizations, and government agencies are eligible to apply. Five to seven Awards (and Honorable Mentions) are expected to be announced in September 2018.

Fish, wildlife, and plant resources provide billions of dollars in economic activity, millions of jobs, and many other important benefits and services to Americans every year including food, clean water and air, building materials, storm protection, tourism, and recreation. The Award recognizes efforts to reduce impacts and sustain these valuable living resources and the many businesses and communities that depend on them every day.

Led by the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and its Climate Change Committee, the Award is given out each year in collaboration with federal and state government partners including the USDA Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and others.

For more information about the Award or how to apply, please visit the Climate Adaptation Leadership Award web site: https://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/award.php.

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America's fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. For more information about the Association, please visit: https://www.fishwildlife.org




Friday, February 9, 2018

Webinar Series: Marine Protected Area Management and the Role of Federal Agencies, States and the Public

Hosted by AFWA’s Ocean Resources Policy Committee


Please join us this Tuesday, February 13th , from 2-3:30ET for the third and final installment in the AFWA webinar series on U.S. marine protected area (MPA) programs. Tuesday’s webinar will be focusing on MPA Programs at the Department of Interior.

Each webinar in this series will feature presentations on individual federal agency MPA programs and will discuss legal authorities, program objectives, designation processes, management approaches, relationships with state governments, stakeholder engagement and public involvement. The webinars will be formatted to allow for interactive discussion and questions with the federal agency representatives after each formal presentation. Please see the attached invitation and below for more information how to join the discussion!

In the event you were not able to join us for the first two webinars in this series you may view them by following the links below:

MPA's 101

Marine Protected Area Programs at NOAA

Upcoming Webinar: Marine Protected Area Programs at DOI

February 13th, 2:00-3:30 ET

Presenters:
Samantha Brooke - Coastal & Marine Team Lead, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Pete Leary - Marine Program Coordinator, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Cliff McCreedy - Marine Resource Management Specialist, Ocean and Coastal Resources Branch, National Park Service.

This webinar will include presentations on coastal and marine National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges and Marine National Monuments.


How to Join:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2029254650788729858

After registering via the link above, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Please feel free to forward the information about this webinar series to any of your colleagues who may have an interest in this topic!

Contact Devin DeMario (ddemario@fishwildlife.org or 202-838-2562) with any questions or concerns.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Job Announcement- Open Recruitment for an Adaptation Program Manager

We're Hiring!! Open recruitment for an Adaptation Program Manager.


Position Title
: Adaptation Program Manager

Position Location: Washington, D. C.

Reports To: Science Advisor

Job Type: Exempt / full-time

Salary: Commensurate with experience. Please include salary expectations in cover letter.

AFWA Background: The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, founded in 1902, represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies. It promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a collective voice on important fish and wildlife issues. The Association is a nonprofit, 501(c)(6) trade association. See www.fishwildlife.org for more information.

Position Summary: The Adaptation Program Manager manages the Association’s programs and activities related to climate adaptation, providing leadership in managing national efforts to develop and implement practical climate adaptation strategies for fish, wildlife and habitats.

Duties: Manage and facilitate a collaborative partnership of government agencies, academia, industry, and NGOs which is developing and implementing climate adaptation activities for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and habitats, as outlined in the “National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy” and the State Wildlife Action Plans.

Provide staff support for the AFWA Climate Change Committee and its affiliated subcommittees and working groups, including monthly conference calls and in-person meetings. Help advance the work of state fish and wildlife agencies (including marine resource agencies) and partners for climate-ready fish and wildlife management.

Produce and distribute a regular e-newsletter, the “AFWA Climate Change Round-Up,” to AFWA members and partners.

Facilitate the administration of an annual “Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources,” in partnership with state and federal agencies and the AFWA Climate Change Committee.

Create and facilitate the development of a “community of practice” among climate adaptation professionals at state and federal agencies through regular communications such as webinars, workshops, special conference sessions, conference calls, training sessions, and other learning and networking opportunities.

Represent AFWA on the steering committee overseeing the annual “Climate Academy” course at the National Conservation Training Center.

Represent AFWA at national conferences and meetings of committees and working groups that are focused on natural resource climate adaptation.

Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications: Outstanding written and verbal communications skills; strong organizational and people skills; experience facilitating diverse multi-stakeholder groups; ability to work independently and as part of a team; prior experience working in a fast-paced office environment; excellent understanding of climate change and climate adaptation as related to wildlife or natural resource management; knowledge of wildlife and natural resource management as currently practiced in the United States; understanding of the role that state fish and wildlife agencies play in conservation.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, Environmental Policy, Conservation Biology or related field; Master’s degree preferred.

Travel: 10% of time (~6-12 trips per year).

Desired Work Experience: At least 5 years’ relevant work experience in fish or wildlife conservation; experience working in a state, provincial, or federal wildlife or natural resource agency in the United States or Canada a strong plus.

Application Process: Please submit a letter of interest and CV to John Lord, Director of Operations at  jlord@fishwildlife.org. Applications must include salary expectations.


Application Deadline: Wednesday, February 21, 2018, or until a suitable candidate is found.