Wednesday, September 17, 2014

You're invited to the 6th Annual Young Guns Happy Hour at AFWA's 2014 Annual Meeting

If you're joining us at AFWA's 2014 Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO - come on out for our 6th Annual Young Guns AFWA Happy Hour! We'll be in the Brewhouse pub in the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch starting at 6pm. We hope to see you there and kick off the meeting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

AFWA Welcomes Greg Moore as Professional Development Programs Manager

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV – The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) is pleased to announce that Greg Moore, formerly of Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, will be joining AFWA's Management Assistance Team and the National Conservation Leadership Institute as the Professional Development Programs Manager.

Moore's passion for preserving our fish and wildlife heritage is evident in his life-long career in wildlife management. He holds a Master's in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Delaware, and recently retired as the Wildlife Section Administrator from Delaware’s DNR after 40 years of service.

In pursuit of his second passion--leadership ideology--Moore has also worked closely with the Management Assistance Team on numerous projects, including course development and delivery. He has been a part of MAT’s National Faculty for four years and most recently served as MAT’s part-time Contract Coordinator.

Moore also has been actively involved in the National Conservation Leadership Institute since graduating from the program in 2012 as an alumnus of Cohort 6. He returned as a peer coach for Cohorts 7 and 8, where he provided guidance, support and structured feedback to incoming Fellows as they completed the program.

“I am truly delighted to welcome Greg to AFWA, NCLI and the MAT family,” said Gina Main, Director of Professional Development for AFWA's MAT and NCLI Executive Director. “Greg fully embodies the dedication, passion and deep commitment to serving and empowering the stewards in fish and wildlife who help preserve our natural resources legacy. Greg will be a tremendous asset to the team, the people we serve, and the work we do.”

In describing his involvement with leadership development, Greg identified his motivation as a “keen interest in how to make organizations more resilient and effective in resolving difficult problems.”

“I am excited about this opportunity to work for MAT and to serve the conservation community,” said Moore. “Having been associated with MAT on several projects as a state agency employee, I know the caliber and importance of the leadership training they provide and I hope to be able to contribute to the legacy established by the staff. As a fellow of NCLI, I am also looking forward to promoting this program and the value it brings to conservation agencies.”

Moore begins his tenure at AFWA on September 17, 2014.

To learn more about AFWA’s Management Assistance Team, visit:

To learn more about the NCLI, go to

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Joins 23 Conservation Organizations to Release the 2014 State of the Birds Report

228 Bird Species Land on the State of the Birds Watch List

One hundred years after the extinction of the passenger pigeon, the nation’s top bird science and conservation groups have come together to publish State of the Birds 2014—the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S. birds ever conducted. The results are mixed. The report finds bird populations declining across several key habitats, and includes a “watch list” of 228 bird species in need of immediate conservation help.

The report also reveals, however, that in areas where a strong conservation investment has been made—wetland birds, for example—bird populations are recovering.

Key Findings from the Report:

Birds in aridland habitat show the steepest population declines in the nation. There has been a 46 percent loss in the population of these birds since 1968. Habitat loss, hydrological alteration, overgrazing and conversion to agriculture are the largest threats. 

The nation’s grasslands have seen a decline in breeding birds, like the eastern meadowlark and the bobolink, of nearly 40 percent since 1968. That decline, however, appears to have leveled off since 1990—a result, the authors say, of the significant investments made in grassland bird conservation. 

Introduced species have had a particularly strong impact on native island birds. In Hawaii, introduced animals such as mongoose, rats, domestic cats, pigs and goats have taken a huge toll on native species. One third of all of America’s federally endangered birds are Hawaiian species. 

There are some encouraging signs for many species in grasslands, wetlands and several other key habitats that have benefited from targeted conservation efforts. In general, development is squeezing shorebirds and their habitat along the coasts. However, among the 49 coastal species examined, there has been a steady rise in populations of 28 percent since 1968. This may be a reflection of the establishment of 160 national coastal wildlife refuges and nearly 600,000 acres of national seashore in 10 states.

The creation and preservation of large swaths of forests through public-private partnerships in the Appalachian Mountains and the Northwest is believed to have helped declining forest-dependent species such as the golden-winged warbler and the oak titmouse. Efforts like this are essential, as forest-dependent birds have declined nearly 20 percent in the western U.S. and 32 percent in the east since 1968.

State of the Birds Watch List
The State of the Birds Watch List contains the 230 species most in need of conservation action. Without conservation action, these are the birds headed the way of the Passenger Pigeon and other now-extinct American birds, such as the Carolina Parakeet and Heath Hen. Watch List birds meet criteria for a combination of high rate of population decline, small population size, small geographic range, and significant future threats to sustainable populations.

The Watch List contains species already on the federal Endangered list as well as those at risk of becoming Threatened or Endangered. While the Endangered Species Act remains the primary line of defense against extinction, proactive conservation is the most effective way to keep other Watch List species from needing Endangered list protection. Most Watch List species fall into seven categories; addressing issues across landscapes and migratory ranges can efficiently conserve entire suites of at-risk species.

Secretary Jewell, Director Ashe Announce $35 Million in Grants to Boost State Endangered Species Conservation Efforts

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced nearly $35 million in grants to 20 states to enable collaborative efforts to conserve many of America’s imperiled species, ranging from the red cockaded woodpecker in the Southeast to a variety of bat species in the Midwest to a colorful flower in the Rocky Mountains.  A list of the projects by state is available here.

“Partnerships are critical to ensuring future generations will be able to see threatened and endangered species in the wild rather than simply in a history book,” Jewell said. “These grants will enable states to work in voluntary partnership with private landowners and a wide variety of other stakeholders to preserve vital habitat and move these species down the road to recovery.” 

Issued through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act), the competitive grants allow states to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other government agencies to initiate conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat that benefits threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants.

“Private landowners and natural resource managers are the linchpin for the conservation of many of our most threatened species,” Ashe said. “By fostering partnerships between federal, state and local governments, private organizations, and individuals, we can pool our resources to develop creative solutions that will drive critical conservation and recovery efforts. These grants are one of many tools available under the Endangered Species Act and we look forward to providing continued guidance and support for these programs.”

The grant funding is provided through programs established to help advance creative partnerships for the recovery of imperiled species. This year, the fund will allocate approximately $7.4 million in grants through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program; nearly $18 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, and $9.5 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program. 

“We can wait for fish and wildlife species to decline to the point where we can’t do anything but react with expensive, last-ditch efforts, or we can take proactive steps to conserve wildlife and their habitats before it is too late,” said Dan Forster, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division. “These grants will enable state fish and wildlife agencies to carry out important on-the-ground conservation actions with our partners to advance the stewardship of our nation’s fish and wildlife resources.”

A complete list of the 2014 grant awards under these programs (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 15.615) is available online at:

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are agreements between a landowner and the Service that allow a landowner to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property, even if they may impact listed species. In return, the landowner agrees to conservation measures designed to avoid, minimize and mitigate the impact of those actions. HCPs may also be developed by a county or state to cover certain activities of all landowners within their jurisdiction and may address multiple species.

Under the HCP Land Acquisition Grants Program, the Service provides grants to states or territories for land acquisitions that complement the conservation objectives of approved HCPs.

For example, the state of North Carolina will receive nearly $1.1 million to support the acquisition of up to 1,761 acres of longleaf pine habitat in the Sandhills region of the state used by red-cockaded woodpeckers. Acquisition, restoration, and protection of this property will promote connectivity among woodpecker groups to expand managed areas in and around the Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall woodpecker populations, and throughout the North Carolina Sandhills.

The HCP Planning Assistance Grants Program provides grants to states and territories to support the development of HCPs through funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach and similar planning activities. 

For example, The Departments of Natural Resources in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin will use a $750,000 grant to develop an HCP for several species of cave-dwelling bats including the endangered Indiana bat, northern long-eared bat, and proposed little brown bat and tri-colored bats.  The plan will focus on forest management on state, county and private lands and will result in a better understanding of species distribution and summer habitat use by cave-dwelling bats, species currently severely threatened by white-nose syndrome. 

The Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program provides funds to states and territories to acquire habitat for endangered and threatened species with approved recovery plans. Habitat acquisition to secure long term protection is often an essential element of a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species.

One of this year’s grants will provide $494,137 to enable the state of Colorado to acquire up to 83 acres in Archuleta County to protect the endangered Pagosa skyrocket from planned development. This acquisition is key to the survival and recovery of this locally-endemic plant species because it will protect up to 90 percent of the largest and most important remaining populations of the species, as well as designated critical habitat.

The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife, and plants. The Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, visit

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Announcing “The AFWA Strategist” International Relations Issue

In May 2014, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies launched a new publication for release at regional association meetings – The AFWA Strategist, which highlights the top issues that the Association is covering. To extend its reach, AFWA will begin distributing The AFWA Strategist to all committee members and we will begin developing special editions focused on AFWA priorities to highlight the breadth of the Association’s work.

The first special edition is The AFWA Strategist: International Relations Issue. Articles include brief updates on the 2014 CITES Meeting; Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee; Canada’s National Conservation Plan; the 2014 Trilateral Committee for Wildlife & Ecosystem Conservation and Management; State Agency Paddlefish Workshop; Sothern Wings Program; US Ramsar National Committee; and a list of upcoming meetings of interest.

AFWA’s International Relations Committee develops positions on international issues; engages in international initiatives, conventions and treaties; and facilitates international cooperation and communication within and between member agencies and partners. AFWA’s Strategic Plan highlights the fundamental importance of international engagement through objectives 2.8, 2.13, 3.7 and 4.9. The International Relations Committee plans to produce a Strategist update on select international issues bi-annually.