Thursday, October 2, 2014

New Video Released about "North America's Wildlife Conservation Legacy"


Thank you to the Arizona Game & Fish Department for producing this fantastic video about the great story of conservation in North America to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations and their habitats as well as abundant opportunities for wildlife-related recreation.

The video features interviews with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director, Carter Smith; National Wild Turkey Federation Chief Conservation Officer, Becky Humphries; and Lowell Baird, President Emeritus of the Boone and Crockett Club.

The video also describes the roots of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and urges all who care about the conservation of fish and wildlife to "always look to the future."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

AFWA Elects 2014-2015 Officers and Executive Committee Members

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies named its full slate of Officers and Executive Committee Members last week at AFWA’s Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri.

In addition to electing Larry Voyles, Arizona Game and Parks Department Director, as 2014-2015 AFWA President, Carter Smith, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, was named Vice President. 

Smith’s appointment is one of several leadership actions that look place. Dave Chanda, Director of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, was named Chair of the Executive Committee and Nick Wiley, Executive Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, was elected to the Vice Chair position. Glen Normandeau, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, remains AFWA’s Secretary/Treasurer.

Upon the recommendations of AFWA’s Nominating Committee, the Executive Committee added Ed Carter, Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Marc Miller, Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, as voting members to the roster.

Gordon Myers, Executive Director of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, will serve as an Ex Officio member representing the Southeast region.

2014-2015 Executive Committee
Officers
President:
Larry Voyles, Arizona Game & Fish Department

Vice President:
Carter Smith, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Secretary/Treasurer:
Glenn Normandeau, New Hampshire Fish & Game Department
Past President:
Dan Forster, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division

Executive Committee
Chair:
Dave Chanda, New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife

Vice Chair:
Nick Wiley, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

Members
John Arway, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Ed Carter, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Jim Douglas, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission

Marc Miller, Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Virgil Moore, Idaho Department of Fish & Game

Bob Ziehmer, Missouri Department of Conservation

Ex Officio Voting Members
Canada:
Mike Sullivan, New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources & Environment

Midwest:

Keith Creagh, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Northeast:

Patty Riexinger, New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Southeast:

Gordon Myers, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Western:

Terry Steinwand, North Dakota Game & Fish Department

Over the past century, AFWA has emerged as a powerful, effective and collective voice for fish and wildlife conservation. The association consists of fish and wildlife agencies from all 50 states along with more than 100 representatives from territorial, provincial and federal fish and wildlife agencies, the conservation community and sportsmen industries.



The Association’s members and partners work together toward achieving AFWA’s vision of healthy fish and wildlife resources throughout North America managed by effective, well-funded fish and wildlife agencies and supported by informed and involved citizens.

photo from left to right: Ed Carter, John Arway, Ron Regan, Larry Voyles, Glen Normandeau, Dan Forster, Dave Chanda, Nick Wiley and Bob Ziehmer



AFWA Recommends 14 Priority Projects for the 2015 Multistate Conservation Grant Cycle

At the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies' recent Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri voting members approved the recommendation of 14 projects to be funded through the 2015 Multistate Conservation Grants Program (MSCGP) cycle.

The total cost of the 14 projects recommended is $2,899,046 ($1,414,248 in Wildlife Restoration funds and $1,484,798 in Sport Fish Restoration funds). Funding for the MSCGP comes from a portion of the quarterly 10-11% federal excise tax paid by manufacturers and importers of fishing, hunting and shooting-sports equipment.

The projects recommended are as follows:

Fully fund:
1)     State Fish and Wildlife Agency Administration and Coordination (Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies)

2)     State Fish and Wildlife Agency Director Travel Administration and Coordination (Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies)

3)     Coordination of the Industry, Federal and State Agency Coalition (Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies)

4)     Educating lawyers, law students, students of all ages, the judiciary and the general public on state fish and wildlife management:  Implementing AFWA’s 2013 – 2015 Strategic Plan Goal 2 (Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies)

5)     Hunting, Fishing, and Sport Shooting Recruitment and Retention:  A Practitioner’s Guide (National Shooting Sports Foundation)

6)     National Survey of Ownership and Use of Traps by Trappers in the United States and evaluation of the use and implementation of BMPs by state fish and wildlife agencies (with a focus on documenting changes since 2004) (Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies)

7)     Promoting Strategic Fish Habitat Conservation through Regionally Coordinated Science and Collaboration (National Fish Habitat Partnership)

8)     Development and Implementation of a National Initiative for Hunter and Shooting Sports Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (Wildlife Management Institute / The Council to Advance Hunting & the Shooting Sports)

9)     Boosting Fishing Participation by Boat Owners (American Sportfishing Association)

10)   Professional Development Workshops for effective communication and outreach regarding regulated trapping, established Best Management Practices, and furbearer management (Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation)

Fund Year One (2015 cycle) Fund Year Two (2016 cycle):

11)   Multistate Conservation Grant Program Coordination (Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

12)   Coordination of Farm Bill Program Implementation to Optimize Fish and Wildlife Benefits to the States (Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies)

13)   Understanding Trends in Public Values toward Wildlife as a Key to Meeting Current and Future Wildlife Management Challenges (Midwest Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies / Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies)

14)   Improving the Conservation of Fish and Wildlife Populations and Habitats During Energy Exploration, Development and Transmission Through Enhanced Industry/Agency Coordination (Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies)

For the 2015 MSCGP cycle, the Association received 33 Letters of Intent from state and federal fish and wildlife agencies, regional associations and non-governmental organizations, and 19 applicants were invited to submit full proposals from which the 14 were selected.

The Association’s priority list of project recommendations will be sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as established by the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs Improvement Act of 2000 (Pub. L. 06-408). The USFWS will announce the grant awards in December and grant funding will be available January 1, 2015.

MSCGP Grants are awarded on a calendar-year basis for one, two or three years and must benefit at least 26 states, a majority of states in a USFWS region or regional associations.


photo courtesy of Hayley Lynch


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

State Fish & Wildlife Agency Directors Pass Four Resolutions at AFWA's 2014 Business Meeting

The voting membership of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies passed four resolutions during its Business Meeting held on September 24, 2014.




Resolution 2014-1: SUPPORT FOR THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY CONSERVATION

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies supports voluntary and incentive-based efforts to address threats of loss, fragmentation and modification of monarch breeding habitat including a better understanding of monarch host plants and how land use practices affect the distribution and abundance of numerous milkweed species.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that voluntary land use practices that support monarch breeding habitat should be encouraged among State and Provincial members, Federal land managers, private conservation groups, agricultural conservation agencies, and public and private landowners and that a continental approach within the context of the annual life-cycle needs of the monarch butterfly is encouraged, which could take the form of tri-lateral plans or other efforts at a North American continental scale.


Resolution 2014-2: RAISING AWARENESS OF E-15 (ETHANOL FUEL BLEND) AND IMPACTS ON BOATING

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOVED, that the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and its member state agencies recognize the importance of educating boaters to use a maximum of E-10 Ethanol blend fuel in their boat motors while recreating on state waterways. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that with the ever changing renewable fuel standard being implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide more and diverse blends of ethanol fuel, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies remains steadfast in mandating that E-10 remain available in the marketplace for recreational boaters.


Resolution 2014-3: ENCOURAGING EXPLORING PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES BETWEEN THE SOUTHERN WINGS PROGRAM AND THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, NATURAL RESOURCES DAMAGE ASSESSMENT AND RESTORATION (NRDAR) PROGRAM

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies encourages the NRDAR Program to collaborate with the Southern Wings Program and include annual life-cycle needs of migratory birds when assessing NRDAR compensation strategies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies encourages natural resource trustees to include the annual life-cycle needs of migratory birds when assessing NRDAR compensation strategies.


Resolution 2014-4: Resolution in Appreciation of the Missouri Department of Conservation

WHEREAS, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies held its 104th Annual Meeting in the historic city of Saint Louis on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River in the Show Me state known as Missouri; and

WHEREAS, the elegant Gateway Arch that stands tall as a symbol of westward expansion, served not only as the back drop to the annual meeting, but also as a reminder to all attendees to expand the relevancy of conservation in today’s society by embracing partnerships and by being bold, brave and inspired; and

WHEREAS, Bob Ziehmer, Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation and his first-rate staff soared above and beyond in their roles as conference hosts and showed us the meaning of Midwest hospitality.

NOW BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, the Association extends its sincere gratitude to the Missouri Department of Conservation for hosting an immensely successful, enjoyable and relevant 2014 AFWA Annual Conference.






Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles Elected 2014-2015 President of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies



The membership of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies today elected Larry Voyles, director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, as its new president during AFWA's 104th Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. 
 
In accepting AFWA’s presidency, Voyles reflected on the critical importance of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation as the nation’s unique system of governance for delivering fish and wildlife conservation on a continental scale.  
 
“We are able to deliver a figure as significant as nearly $4.5 billion of conservation in the U.S. alone only because the people we serve will it and desire it,” said Voyles. “It is that ‘good will’ that can ultimately guarantee this wildlife legacy in which we take so much pride, and because of that fact, we absolutely must tell those we serve the story of who we are, where we come from, how we do business and why.”   
 
Voyles urged his colleagues to tell the great story of conservation again and again. He also praised the coordinating action and capability of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and the regional fish and wildlife agencies’ associations; recognized professionals across the country for their tireless dedication to conservation; and he held a moment of silence for those fallen heroes who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2014.  
 
“The directors of the state and provincial wildlife agencies are truly blessed as leaders, but more importantly, all of North America is truly blessed to have the kind of dedicated conservation professionals who simply refuse to let our wildlife future fade,” said Voyles.   
 
Voyles will serve as AFWA President through September 2015.  
 
“Larry Voyles is a true leader and a conservation visionary who will leave a lasting imprint on our organization,” said Dan Forster, director of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division and the 2013-2014 AFWA president. “He understands the vital role played by state and provincial wildlife officials in the conservation of North American species and habitats, and we expect President Voyles will excel at representing both wildlife conservation professionals and the North American species we hold in trust.”   
 
Voyles joined the Arizona Game and Fish Department in 1974 as a wildlife manager (game ranger), serving over the next 10 years in the Wellton, Wickenburg and Prescott districts. He subsequently served as the wildlife enforcement program coordinator and as the department’s training coordinator before being promoted to supervisor of the Yuma region in 1988 and then agency director in 2008. Voyles holds a B.S. in wildlife biology from Arizona State University.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

National Blue Ribbon Panelists Named to Help Develop a 21st Century Model for Sustaining America's Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources


Top executives from the outdoor recreation, energy, agricultural, automotive, financial, educational and conservation sectors accept challenge of finding funding solutions to prevent Endangered Species Listings


Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops®, and former Wyoming governor, Dave Freudenthal, today named 20 members of the national Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources to advance solutions for funding a 21st century model of conservation. The Blue Ribbon Panel co-chairs, Morris and Freudenthal, made their announcement during a keynote address at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Blue Ribbon Panelists represent the outdoor recreation retail and manufacturing sector, the energy and automotive industries, private landowners, educational institutions, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups and state fish and wildlife agencies. The Panelists will work together over the course of a year to produce recommendations and policy options on the most sustainable and equitable model to fund conservation of the full array of fish and wildlife species.


The Blue Ribbon Panelists on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources:

Kevin Butt–General Manager and Chief Environmental Officer, Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc. and Board Member, Wildlife Habitat Council 

John Doerr–President and CEO, Pure Fishing, Inc. and Board Member, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation  

Jim Faulstich–Owner, Daybreak Ranch and Vice Chairman, Partners for Conservation  

John Fitzpatrick–Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Co-inventor, eBird 

Gregg Hill–President and CEO of Exploration and Production, Hess Corporation  

Rebecca Humphries–Chief Conservation Officer, National Wild Turkey Federation  

Dr. Stephen Kellert–Professor Emeritus of Social Ecology and Senior Research Scholar, Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Board Member, Bio-Logical Capital; Founding Partner, Environmental Capital Partners  

Jennifer Mull–Chief Executive Officer, Backwoods Equipment, Inc. and Board Chair of the Outdoor Industry Association  

John W. Newman–CFO and Treasurer, LLOG Exploration Company, LLC and Board Chairman, Ducks Unlimited  

Margaret O’Gorman–President, Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) and Board Member, Stewardship Action Council  

Glenn Olson–Donal O’Brien Chair in Bird Conservation and Public Policy, National Audubon Society (NAS) and Member, North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Advisory Council  

Collin O’Mara–President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation  

Connie Parker–CEO and Founder, CSPARKERGROUP and Board Member, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Wildlife Foundation of Florida  

Charlie Potter–CEO, Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation and Founder and Chairman, Great Outdoors, LLC  

Lynn Scarlett–Managing Director, Public Policy, The Nature Conservancy  

John Tomke–President, Ducks Unlimited de Mexico and Chair, Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council 

Dr. James Walker–Vice Chairman of the Board, EDF Renewable Energy and Board Member, American Wind Energy Association 

Dr. Steve Williams–President, Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) and Board President, National Conservation Leadership Institute; Board Member, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 

Bob Ziehmer–Director, Missouri Department of Conservation 

“Conservation means balancing the sustainability of fish and wildlife with the many needs of humans for clean air and water; land; food and fiber; dependable energy; economic development and recreation,” said Morris. “By assembling this Panel of highly regarded leaders and problem solvers, we will find a way forward that safeguards not only vital natural resources, but also our nation’s economic prosperity and outdoor heritage.”  

“With fish and wildlife species and natural resource-based enterprise at stake, we can’t afford an ‘us vs. them’ mentality,” said Freudenthal. “It is time to create certainty for both industry and the conservation community by building a 21st century funding model.” 

State hunting and fishing license dollars, federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear and motorboat fuel taxes have provided the backbone for funding states’ fish and wildlife conservation programs over the past century. However, there has always been a significant gap in dedicated funding for conserving the 95 percent of all species that are neither hunted nor fished. 

Only partially filling that gap is the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, the sole federal source of funding to state agencies to prevent new endangered species listings. Since 2010, the program’s funding has been cut by more than 35 percent while petitions for federal endangered species listing has skyrocketed by 1,000 percent. 

“Dedicated funding allowing for the management of all fish and wildlife, whether game or non-game species, is essential for this nation,” said Bob Ziehmer, Missouri Department of Conservation director and representative for state fish and wildlife agencies on the Blue Ribbon Panel. “Many species are declining in abundance and will continue to do so if we don’t work toward establishing a sustainable funding source for our nation now and into the future.” 

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies began its quest to secure sustained funding for fish and wildlife diversity conservation in the early 1990s. The launch of the Teaming With Wildlife coalition, which now includes nearly 6,400 organizations, was a critical step in demonstrating broad and diverse support for dedicated fish and wildlife funding.

The co-chairs expect to add approximately three more individuals and four Ex Officio participants to the Panel before it convenes its first meeting in early 2015.

To learn more about AFWA’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Fish and Wildlife Resources, go to www.fishwildlife.org/blueribbonpanel.

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: www.matteam.org

To learn more about the NCLI, go to www.conservationleadership.org

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.