Thursday, April 30, 2015

New Practitioner’s Guide Available for Fish and Wildlife Conservation Providers to Help Landowners Access Farm Bill Programs

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies supported the North American Bird Conservation Initiative in producing the 2014 Farm Bill FieldGuide to Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Now available, this field guide is a tool to assist the staff of federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, nongovernmental conservation organizations, joint ventures and other conservation partners in implementing Farm Bill conservation programs.

More than two-thirds of the land area in the United States is privately owned, with 914 million acres in farms or ranches and approximately 300 million acres in private forest. These working lands, which represent much of the country’s remaining open space and habitat, are vitally important to the conservation of soil, water and fish and wildlife resources. The Agricultural Act of 2014, the most recently enacted Farm Bill, dedicates approximately $28 billion dollars until 2018 for conservation.

The 2014 Farm Bill Field Guide to Fish andWildlife Conservation was designed primarily as an introduction for fish and wildlife conservation providers—the on-the-ground biologists and conservation partners who help deliver Farm Bill conservation programs to landowners. The goal is to provide these practitioners with a tool to better understand the Farm Bill and how its programs can help landowners conserve fish and wildlife habitat.

The guide provides an overview of the Conservation Title in the 2014 Farm Bill as well as Farm Bill history, program delivery, the role of partnerships and priority setting. It also features case studies and details on the following programs: the Conservation Reserve Program, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Innovation Grants, Conservation Stewardship Program, Healthy Forests Reserve Program, Regional Conservation Partnership Program and Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.

To download the Farm Bill Field Guide or to request a printed copy, go to

A diverse coalition of habitat conservation organizations helped the North American Bird Conservation Initiative prepare and publish this guide, including:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

AFWA is Soliciting Letters of Intent for the 2016 Multistate Conservation Grant Cycle

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies is currently soliciting Letters of Intent (LOIs) for the 2016 Multistate Conservation Grant Program (MSCGP). Up to $6 million dollars is available each calendar year for projects that address regional- or national-level priorities of the state fish and wildlife agencies through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

Letters of Intent must address one or more of the 10 MSCGP National Conservation Needs for 2016 that were recently selected by state fish and wildlife agency directors at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in March 2015.

Letters of Intent will be evaluated based on responsiveness to the National Conservation Needs; scientific quality; practical relevance to state agencies; value; and qualifications. Grants are awarded on a calendar-year basis for one, two or three years to eligible recipients.

Please read the full Solicitation Notice and Submission Guidelines for details.

LOIs must be submitted electronically in Microsoft Word format to the MSCGP Coordinator no later than 5:00pm (Eastern Time) on Monday, May 11, 2015.  The National Grants Committee and appropriate AFWA committees will review and evaluate the LOIs.  In June, the National Grants Committee will invite the applicants with the most competitive LOIs to submit a full grant proposal for consideration. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

10 National Conservation Needs Selected for the 2016 Cycle of the Multistate Conservation Grant Program

State fish and wildlife agency directors approved a slate of 10 National Conservation Needs for the 2016 Multistate Conservation Grant Program on March 13, 2015 during the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference held in Omaha, Nebraska.

NCN 1: Outdoor Heritage – Participation, Recruitment and Retention in Hunting, Fishing, Boating and Conservation-related Recreational Activities; Enhanced Relations among State Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Related Industries

NCN 2: Strengthening the National Fish Habitat Partnership

NCN 3: The Management Assistance Team (MAT) or similar entity to increase leadership capacity and agency effectiveness within state fish and wildlife agencies and the conservation community through leadership and professional development initiatives, training, consulting, and support of the National Conservation Leadership Institute

NCN 4: Incorporating Fish and Wildlife Considerations into Energy Development Decisions

NCN 5: Preserve State Wildlife Agencies’ Authority to Manage Wildlife Resources and Promote Their Interest in the Implementation of International Treaties and Conventions

NCN 6: Policy and Legislative Advocacy – Implementing Goal 2 of AFWA’s Strategic Plan

NCN 7: Building Stakeholder Support for a 21st Century Model of Funding Fish & Wildlife

NCN 8: Develop, Maintain and Enhance State-led Conservation Land Use Pre-planning Tools

NCN 9: State Fish and Wildlife Agency Coordination and Administration

NCN 10: Management of the 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (National Survey)

The MSCGP funding opportunity/letter of intent solicitation will be posted on March 30. 

Each year, up to $6 million is available to fund MSCGP projects. AFWA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) cooperatively administer the Multistate Conservation Grant Program.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Increased Opportunities for Public Outdoor Recreation Coming Thanks to the 2014 Farm Bill’s Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program

Photo by George Andrejko
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today opened a new application period under the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), which harnesses the power of partnerships to create win-win opportunities for private landowners, science-based fish and wildlife conservation and the public.

The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized the VPA-HIP with $40 million in total funding for state and tribal government programs to encourage owners and operators of privately held land to voluntarily make that land available for wildlife habitat improvements and public access for hunting, fishing and other wildlife-dependent recreation. 

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies commends the leadership of Senators Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Thad Cochran (MS) and Congressmen Frank Lucas (OK) and Collin Peterson (MA) for supporting funding this program.

By helping to increase access and opportunities for hunting and fishing, the VPA-HIP in turn also helps to generate financial resources for state agencies to manage fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest.

Hunters and anglers are the nation’s foremost funders of state-based conservation as a result of their purchases of licenses and specially taxed gear. America’s sportsmen and women also deliver a more than $200 billion economic impact to the U.S. economy, especially in many rural and local communities.

NRCS is accepting applications for this round of the VPA-HIP through April 24, 2015 and the agency anticipates that up to $20 million will be available for this important competitive block grant program. If all $20 million available in this round is allocated, it will be the last VPA-HIP funding opportunity under this Farm Bill—which expires September 30, 2018—unless Congress appropriates additional funds.

The full announcement from NRCS is available at

Monday, February 2, 2015

It's Nomination Time for the National Conservation Leadership Institute Cohort 10

The National Conservation Leadership Institute (NCLI) is now accepting nominations for Cohort 10 from state fish and wildlife agencies and the conservation community nationwide. 

In today's rapidly evolving world, organizations face unprecedented challenges that demand professionals with extraordinary leadership skills. NCLI was designed by multiple conservation groups 10 years ago to address that demand. Today, numerous organizations realize the value of the program, sending employees year after year. 

Following the world-renowned principles of Adaptive Leadership™, NCLI helps high-achieving conservation professionals learn advanced, adaptive problem-solving skills; establish life-long, high-trust relationships across organizational boundaries; and foster meaningful dialogue among the diverse voices that collectively represent conservation in America.

As always, applicants to the NCLI must be nominated by their agency director. Nominations will be accepted through April 30, 2015. 

Agencies and organizations may submit up to three nominations to compete for one of 36 spaces in this world- class leadership development program. Final selection is highly competitive so begin your internal recruitment now. 

Please visit for further information on the nomination process.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The January Issue of The AFWA Strategist

The January issue of The AFWA Strategist is now available! Articles include brief updates on AFWA’s legislative priorities for the 114th Congress, our Legal Strategy, the Blue Ribbon Panel on America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources, aquatic invasive species, AFWA’s survey concerning lynx, online leadership development courses from the Management Assistance Team and an invitation to participate in the 2015 Teaming With Wildlife Fly-in.

The AFWA Strategist highlights the top issues that AFWA is covering as the representative voice of state, provincial and territorial fish and wildlife agencies.