America’s fish and wildlife belong to all of us as a public trust. For more than a century, state fish and wildlife agencies have upheld the primary responsibility for conserving and preventing the exploitation of natural resources on public and private lands and waters within their borders.
To sustain healthy fish and wildlife populations and provide opportunities for all to connect with nature, state agencies continue to advance what is known as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, a systematic arrangement of policies and laws to restore and safeguard species and habitats through sound science and active management at the local level via state agency programs. Hunting and angling are the cornerstones of the North American Model with sportsmen and women serving as the foremost funders for conservation efforts through their license and equipment purchases.
However, every state agency today is dealing with rising public demands for resources; the impacts of urban sprawl, habitat loss and other emerging issues like climate change; shrinking hunter and angler constituencies and revenue base; and mounting costs. This shifting environment is a threat to the overall management system, fish and wildlife and the people who value nature. Increasingly, conservation success requires more effective cooperation between state agencies and federal natural resource and land management agencies.
With President-elect Obama's administration, come new opportunities to further support the North American Model through new federal conservation policies that are responsive to today’s challenges while bolstering state and federal agency funding to meet those challenges.
Recently, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies sent to President-elect Obama a letter, two-page overview entitled “Furthering Conservation in the Public Trust: A National Fish and Wildlife Agenda” and a collection of policy analysis white papers for his transition staff’s use. In the documents, the Association sets forward conservation priorities to help safeguard our nation's rich fish and wildlife legacy and ensure all have opportunities to enjoy the benefits of our great outdoors.
The documents can be downloaded at www.fishwildlife.org/pdfs/A-National-Fish-and-Wildlife-Agenda_AFWA-2008.pdf.