Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Matt Hogan Accepts Position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

On Thursday, December 17, Matt Hogan announced he has accepted a position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the new Assistant Regional Director for Migratory Birds and State Programs in Denver, Colorado.

“Making the decision to leave the Association is certainly a difficult one. However, after working in Washington, DC for 20 years, I am looking forward to the change,” said Hogan. “In my new position, I hope to continue working closely with state agencies in the Mountain Prairie region and continuing to strengthen the working relationship between the Service and state fish and wildlife agencies to elevate sound, science-based conservation of America’s fish and wildlife resources.”

Upon Hogan’s departure, Ron Regan, the Association’s Resource Director, will serve as the Acting Executive Director until a new Executive Director is selected. A job announcement will be released in early January 2010.

“We are a stronger Association because of Matt’s leadership, insight and expertise in advancing fish and wildlife issues on a national scale over the past three and half years,” said John Frampton, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. “We wish him continued success as he begins this next chapter in his already exceptional career.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

AFWA's 2nd Annual “Land the Cover” Photo Contest

Arizona Game and Fish Department landed the cover of last year’s AFWA Annual Report with this stunning photo by George Andrejko. Who will take the spot and get bragging rights this year?

Submit your best hi-resolution photos of fish, wildlife, habitats, fish and wildlife agency staff at work or people enjoying your state’s natural resources. Images can be from state, territorial or provincial publications or personal photography. The entrant must be connected to a state, territorial or provincial fish and wildlife agencies to be eligible for the cover.

Every photo reproduced in the 2009 Annual Report will include a photographer credit. Photos may also be featured on the new fishwildlife.org web site. Of course, you retain the rights to your photograph; however, by entering the contest, you grant the Association use of the image. Digital images must be a resolution of at least 300 dpi and 8” x 10.” To look at previous Annual Report covers, visit www.fishwildlife.org/press_pubs.

Deadline to enter the 2nd Annual “Land the Cover” Contest is January 15, 2010.
Please email entries to lmaclean@fishwildlife.org.

Alternatively, you can mail a CD to the address below. Feel free to forward this announcement or call Laura with questions.

Laura MacLean
Communications Director
Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
444 North Capitol St., NW
Suite 725
Washington DC, 20001

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Maryland DNR Deputy Secretary Testifies for AFWA Before Senate Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife

WASHINGTON, DC — Eric Schwaab, Deputy Secretary, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, today testified at a Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee hearing on the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (S1214); the Joint Ventures for Bird Conservation Act (HR2188); a technical fix to NAWCA (HR3433); reauthorizing a Nutria eradication and control program (S1519); and in support of Reauthorization of the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act (HR 3537); Listing Asian Carp as Injurious (S1421); and the Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act (HR509).

On the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act
"The message is clear. The National Fish Habitat Action Plan and this legislation represent a thoughtful, planned, and strategic endeavor with the organization, science, and collaboration mechanisms to make it work. Indeed, the Plan is working and the Association supports all elements of the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act without exception or hesitation to assure its continued future success. Absent the funding contemplated in the Act, it will be difficult to sustain the existing momentum and voluntary coordination of federal and state agencies in progress."

On the Joint Ventures for Bird Conservation Act
"The future of many of the 1,400 bird species that occur in North America is in jeopardy. Many populations are in decline, some moderately, some precipitously, as habitats continue to be degraded or lost throughout their ranges which can span countries, continents — even hemispheres.

It is imperative, especially in light of future impacts of climate change, that we maintain enough high quality habitats across the hemisphere to sustain viable populations of migratory birds. This is why the Joint Ventures for Bird Habitat Conservation (HR2188) Act which emphasizes habitat conservation and management across the hemisphere, are so critical."

Read Eric Schwaab's full testimony >

Friday, October 30, 2009

State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program Receive a Crucial Funding Boost from Congress

Increase will help state fish and wildlife agencies address environmental threats to some of the nation’s most imperiled species

Washington, D.C. – This week, Congress approved $90 million for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program as part of the $32.2 billion Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriation Act for 2010. The increase is $15 million over last year’s level and also includes a change in the nonfederal match requirement from 50% to 35%.

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, now in its 10th year, is a principal source of funding for implementation of congressionally required State Wildlife Action Plans in every state and territory. The Plans assess the health of each state’s wildlife and habitats, identify the problems they face and outline the actions needed to conserve them over the long term to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered.

The increase in federal dollars comes at a time when state fish and wildlife agencies are increasingly challenged to address the impacts of invasive species, habitat loss and degradation and the exacerbating affects of climate change.

“We appreciate the work of the administration and Congress to secure increased funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program,” said Matt Hogan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “These additional funds will help states tackle the backlog of conservation projects to address the threats of some of the nation’s most imperiled fish and wildlife and they will also maintain existing and create new jobs across the country.”

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program was started in 2000 to meet a longstanding need for funding of fish and wildlife species that are typically not hunted or fished.

“We appreciate the work of Norm Dicks, Chairman of the House Interior, Environment and Related Appropriations subcommittee, Ranking Member Simpson and the entire committee for helping to secure the additional funding,” said Phil Anderson, Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program is essential to the successful implementation of the Washington State Wildlife Action Plan and the additional funding will allow us to step up our efforts to address climate change.”

The apportionment of funding through the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program is based on one third of land area and two thirds on population. For example, for fiscal year 2010, the state of Washington will receive about $1.5 million in apportionment funds. The program also will provide tribes with $7 million for a competitive grants program. An additional $5 million will be made available to states for a competitive grants program.

“The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program provides the only source of federal funding directed at preventing wildlife from becoming endangered and is that much more urgent now because of the impacts to wildlife from global warming,” said Naomi Edelson, Senior Manager, State Wildlife Programs for the National Wildlife Federation and member of the Teaming With Wildlife steering committee. “This increase is a natural investment toward protecting fish and wildlife and the natural lands and waters they depend on for survival.”

Increased funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program is supported by the 6,200 member Teaming With Wildlife coalition made up of wildlife conservation groups, nature centers, hunting and fishing organizations and businesses.

For more information about Teaming With Wildlife and State Wildlife Action Plans, go to www.teaming.com.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sportsmen and Women Thank Senators Bingaman, Baucus and Whitehouse for Introducing Legislation to Safeguard Fish and Wildlife from Climate Change

Natural Resources Adaptation bill helps ensure the long-term survival of fish and wildlife while providing Americans with a healthier environment and jobs

Fish and wildlife conservationists today lauded Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and his co-sponsors Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for introducing the “Natural Resources Climate Adaptation Act” (S.1933). The bill would provide for dedicated funding to federal and state natural resource agencies to plan and implement science-informed, on-the-ground projects to help fish and wildlife adapt and respond to the impacts of climate change and to foster resilient habitats.

“We applaud and appreciate the leadership of Senators Bingaman, Baucus and Whitehouse in crafting a bill that addresses the unprecedented effects climate change will have on natural systems and for recognizing the important role state and federal natural resource agencies play in ensuring that these systems continue to function,” said Matt Hogan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “Functioning ecosystems are not only vital to the health of fish and wildlife resources, they are critical to the quality of life for Americans because they provide cleaner air and water, flood attenuation, carbon sequestration and recreation.”

“Fish and wildlife populations should be considered a barometer of a healthy human environment. Our strategy for successfully adapting to climate change must include sustaining the natural diversity, distribution and abundance of fish and wildlife populations,” said George Cooper, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This bill goes a long way toward including the resources necessary to protect and restore habitat affected by climate change to assure American sportsmen and women that hunting and fishing will remain sustainable for this and future generations.”

A century of fish and wildlife conservation work is in danger from a changing climate. For more than 100 years, federal and state natural resources agencies—funded to a great extent by hunters and anglers—have invested billions of dollars in land and water conservation. However, climate change is jeopardizing this investment by escalating and accelerating threats such as the spread of invasive species and catastrophic fires, which put many fish and wildlife species at risk.

“For decades, federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, together with hunters and anglers, have invested the financial resources to develop the most successful fish and wildlife conservation programs in the world,” said Steve Williams, President of the Wildlife Management, Inc. “This bill promises to provide the additional funding necessary to adapt to climate change impacts, secure our past investments, and assure that future generations will continue to enjoy and enhance our nation’s fish and wildlife resources.”

Funding for adaptation programs would provide important new resources to agencies in partnership with the private conservation community to undertake the conservation work necessary to help fish and wildlife survive.

“As I head into the field this fall, I'm reminded of why we have the opportunities we have today,” said Land Tawney, National Wildlife Federation Senior Manager for Sportsmen Leadership. “For generations, sportsmen and women have been at the vanguard of this nation's conservation victories. Senators Baucus, Bingaman and Whitehouse deserve credit for taking the next step to ensure future generations have bountiful fish and wildlife populations and healthy natural resources to enjoy.”

In addition, the economic contributions accrued from hunters and anglers and the goods and services they purchase support millions of jobs and generate $76 billion in financial benefit annually. Conserving natural resources helps ensure the survival of countless businesses and communities nationwide.

“Paired with strong efforts to reduce carbon emissions and stop the worst impacts of climate change in the long run, this bill will provide the investments in our nation's natural resources necessary to sustain fish and wildlife populations in the coming decades,” said Steve Moyer, Vice President for Government Affairs at Trout Unlimited. “Hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone who cares about and depends on our natural resources will benefit from this bill.”

# # #

Laura MacLean, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, (202) 624-7744

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Announces 2009 Annual Award Recipients for Exemplary Commitment to Conservation Stewardship

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies honored 12 individuals and two entities for their outstanding and longstanding commitment to conservation stewardship at the Association’s Annual Awards Ceremony held on September 15, 2009 in Austin, Texas.

2009 Annual Awards Recipients:

Seth Gordon Award
Recognizing lifetime achievement, the Association’s highest honor

David Erickson
Assistant Director, Missouri Department of Conservation

David Erickson’s career spans more than 30 years and is marked by his national and international leadership, innovation, enthusiasm, dedication and adherence to the public trust responsibilities of state and federal wildlife administrators. He has been actively involved in the Association’s work, serving on more than a dozen committees, subcommittees and working groups, which ran the gamut from bird conservation and Teaming With Wildlife to hunting/shooting sports participation and wildlife resources policy.

Erickson also is an advocate for all bird management including migratory waterfowl, game and nongame birds and has been a member of three joint venture management boards, the Mississippi Flyway Council and served on the National Flyway Council strategy team to develop a national waterfowl hunters recruitment strategy. As the Chair for state agencies on the Southern Wings Task Force, Erickson was instrumental in creating a simple infrastructure for state fish and wildlife agencies to participate in the conservation of wintering habitat in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Despite his many commitments, Erickson took on the responsibilities of chairing the Association’s new Amphibian and Reptile Subcommittee to provide a forum for conservation and policy issues and he made it possible for 14 state agencies to receive funding from the Competitive State Wildlife Grants Program. In addition, he serves as AFWA’s advisory board member to Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (PARC) and holds a seat on the PARC Joint National Steering Committee.

The Association is proud to present David Erickson with the Seth Gordon Award in recognition of his life-long career in natural resources, dedication to professional, science-based wildlife management and leadership in achieving conservation goals.

Boone & Crockett Award
Honoring an agency and team leader for outstanding achievement in promoting and encouraging programs in outdoor ethics

Group: Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Individual: Mark Bruscino, Bear Management Officer

Human-bear conflicts have become increasingly common as the grizzly bear populations grow and expand. In response to this problem, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department developed a community-based efforts focusing on living, working and recreating safely and ethically in bear country. Called Bear Wise, the program was developed under the leadership of Mark Bruscino, Wyoming’s bear management officer. The program evolved for a citizen work group that Bruscino formed in 2006 and since then has helped significantly reduce state bear conflicts and mortalities as well as possible injuries to humans. Relying on local governments and individuals, Bear Wise programs provide specific methods for managing potential bear attractants; permanent and portable fencing to help outfitters and homeowners keep bears away from attractants; and livestock carcass removal service. Bear Wise also encourages people to appreciate and tolerate bears in their communities.

Mark J. Reeff Memorial Award
Recognizing distinguished, young wildlife management professionals

Shannon Hanna
Privately Owned Cervidae Specialist, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Wildlife Division

Confronted with a number of outstanding noncompliance issues indentified in a Michigan-wide audit, Shannon Hanna took immediate steps to get privately own cervid facilities compliant, which required extensive coordination between the Wildlife Division, the Department of Agriculture Animal Industry Division and the deer-farming community. She rewrote a Memorandum of Understanding between DNR and the Agriculture Department governing the rules and regulations of Michigan deer farming. She also developed a comprehensive database on all privately owned cervid facilities that is now accessible by both agencies, saving countless hours and greatly improving the state’s efforts to contain and manage chronic wasting disease (CWD). On her own initiative, Hanna developed a web page for the privately owned cervids industry to obtain information on laws, regulations and accepted manages pertinent to CWD and established herself as a go-to personfor straight answers concerning facility deficiencies. Her expertise proved invaluable when surveillance testing in 2008 detected a positive CWD deer on a facility.

National Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award
Honoring an individual- or family-run farm, ranch or forest operation that has incorporated proactive conservation and environmental protection measures

Col. Wallace N. Weber of Dorrance, Kansas

A retired U.S. Army Colonel with 31 years of service, Wallace Weber is the third generation to run his family’s 1783-acre farm in Dorrance, Kansas. A lifelong sportsman and conservationist, Col. Weber assembled a Conservation Management Team with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to advise and assist him in the development of conservation practices. He is currently implementing the plan with his sister, Cheryl, and permanently dedicating the farm as a demonstration area for farming and wildlife to advance agronomy and conservation-minded rangeland management practices and as a field laboratory to test new conservation ideas as well as to promote the shooting sports, upland hunting and proper hunting ethics. To accomplish his vision, Col. Weber is donating portions of the property to Pheasant’s Forever over the next five years and he established a charitable remainder trust for management expenses upon his passing. In its entirety, the donation is expected to be valued at more than a million dollars and when completed, it will be the largest land donation in Pheasant’s Forever history.

Conservation Law Enforcement Award
Recognizing exceptional achievement is fish and wildlife resource enforcement

Brad M. Hadley
Missouri Department of Conservation

Agent Brad Hadley has employed substantive and innovative means to enforce Missouri fish and wildlife conservation laws. He’s made numerous arrests for serious violations relying heavily on his proficient technological skills using GPS, aircraft and watercraft. Hadley proactively instituted partnership and public relations programs with other agencies including Missouri Highway Patrol, local Sheriff’s department, water patrol, National Park Service and the Forest Service. As the head of a large neighborhood watch program, Hadley built a network of private citizen cooperators to provide enforcement information. His efforts to further inform and educate the public about conservation enforcement include writing newspaper articles, speaking at events and writing for the Missouri Conservationist magazine. Hadley also engaged with the state’s Youth Conservation Corps to develop a program to remove trash from conservation areas and he helped education the public about ATV regulations and trail closures.

Special Recognition Awards
Recognizing individuals who have distinguished themselves with an outstanding commitment to the work of the Association

Michael Berger
(Retired) Director of the Division of Wildlife, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)

Mike Berger has had a long and distinguished wildlife conservation career. Before he retired as the Director of Wildlife, some of his most outstanding accomplishments were the development and implementation of the state’s Wildlife Conservation Plan, the addition of more than seven million acres to the state’s approved wildlife management plans and the development of a proactive partnership with The Nature Conservancy in the conservation of key prairie chicken grassland habitats. As a very engaged co-chair of AFWA’s International Relations Committee, Berger built upon the relationships that he had developed as the U.S. Chair of the Wildlife Table of the Border Governor’s Conference, a bi-national forum to coordinate the work of U.S. and Mexican states to facilitate the Mexican states working with AFWA on North American wildlife conservation issues.

Dr. Michael Fall
Biologist, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

A nationally prominent research scientist and research leader, Dr. Michael Fall has been the federal liaison within the Association for the development of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for trapping animals. He served as the project leader for the ground-breaking research that lead to the development of BMPs and has been exceptionally effective at maintaining the federal support of the research needed to develop them. Fall also has been the federal official responsible for implementing the U.S. commitments stemming from the Agreed Minute with the European Union addressing BMPs and fur trade. As head of the U.S. delegation, he consistently has made it clear that state fish and wildlife agencies are responsible for wildlife management in the U.S., thereby protecting the interests of states and the integrity of state-based wildlife management.

Glen Salmon
(Former) Director, Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife
Deputy Assistant Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Federal Aid (USFWS)

As soon as Glen Salmon was appointed the Director of the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife, he became actively engaged in the work of the Association and the Midwestern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Salmon made significant contributions to furthering the states’ wildlife conservation agenda and programs as the Chair of the Fish and Wildlife Trust Funds Committee, co-Chair of the Agency/Industry Summit; working member of the National Grants and Annual Meeting Committees; and a champion for conservation education. Salmon recently accepted a position with USFWS Federal Aid.

Virgil Moore
Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Over the course of his 29-year career with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Virgil Moore has championed the cause for the conservation of native fish and through his advocacy and leadership has made a lasting impact on the fisheries resources of the Western United States. As President of the American Fisheries Society Administration Section, Moore played a key role in the development of the Western Trout Initiative, one of the most successful National Fish Habitat Initiative Partnerships. Similarly, his work on the Forest Service Fishing Review Panel helped support the continuation of Forest Service western fish programs. Nationally, Moore’s leadership on AFWA’s Fisheries and Water Policy Committee and the American Sportfishing Association’s Government Affairs Committee has been key on behalf of state agencies in the last two reauthorizations of the Sportfish Restoration Act.

Ken Haddad
Director, Executive Director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Retiring at the end of the year after 30 years of service, Ken Haddad’s body of work as a research and natural resource administrative professional is truly substantial. He has authored or co-authored more than 35 publications in applied research and management including fisheries and fish habitat, red tide, remote sensing and geographic information systems. In the past eight years serving as the Executive Director, Haddad innovatively has set Florida’s course for the 21st century, which is serving as a model for other state agencies. He has served on AFWA’s Executive Committee and was engaged in the work of the Resource Policy and Angler Boater Participation Committees abd chaired the Leadership and Professional Development Committee to address the growing gap facing states as the baby boom generation retires. Haddad’s contributions have been a clear vision of the future with a commitment for working on the front end of issues with all stakeholders whether they be public or private partners or resource professionals.

Mark Shaffer
Director, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Environment Program

Mark Shaffer and the Doris Charitable Foundation have been tireless supporters of state wildlife action plans, contributing nearly $90 million over the past decade towards their development and implementation in order to accelerate the conservation of identified essential habitats. The Foundation also has actively encouraged other private foundations to link their conservation spending the plans.

Fallen Heroes
Remembering those wildlife professionals who lost their lives while carrying out their duties the previous year
Nathan Mims
Officer, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Photos by Chase Fountain, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dpeartment
Bottom row (l-r): Ken Haddad, Shannon Hanna, Dr. Michael Fall, Glen Salmon, Dave Erickson Top row (l-r): Cheryl Weber, Wallace Weber, Virgil Moore, Mark Shaffer, Mark Bruscino, Brad Hadley, Mike Berger

Monday, September 21, 2009

South Carolina’s John Frampton Elected 2009-2010 President of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) elected South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director, John Frampton, its new president during the Association’s 99th Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas on September 16, 2009. Frampton has more than 35 years of experience with DNR, where he started his career as a field biologist.

“I attended my first Annual Meeting in 1981 and I don’t think I have missed a meeting since then,” Frampton said. “I would not be the Director of the South Carolina DNR if it weren’t for this Association.”

Frampton currently serves on the Association’s Executive, Fish and Wildlife Trust, Fisheries and Water Resources Policy and Legislative/Federal Budget Committees and the Federal Assistance Policy Task Force. During his one-year tenure as president, he plans to pay particular attention to the work of the Association membership on the issues of climate change and energy development; lead; Teaming With Wildlife and State Wildlife Action Plans; Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund reauthorization; and bridging the gap between state agencies and the fishing, hunting and shooting sports industry.

“As an Association, we can accomplish things that as a single entity we could not accomplish or even envision alone,” said Frampton. “I am extremely proud to help enhance the collective voice we have around this country.”

The Washington, DC-based Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is the collective voice of North America’s fish and wildlife agencies at every level of government. The Association provides its member agencies and their senior staff with coordination services that range from migratory birds, fish habitat, and invasive species, to conservation education, leadership development, and international relations. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key conservation and management policies, and works to ensure that all fish and wildlife entities work collaboratively on the most important issues.

Frampton will serve as president through September 2010.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Watch the Association's 2009 Annual Meeting Plenary Session LIVE!

"It's Clean, But is It Green? How Compatible is Renewable Energy Development and Fish and Wildlife Management?"
Monday, September 14, 2009
9:00 am - 10:45 am EST

As our nation struggles to find alternative energy sources to both reduce greenhouse gases as well as minimize our dependence on foreign oil, many fish and managers and others involved in renewable energy are struggling to ensure that “clean energy” is “green energy” and that the environmental benefits are not lost by negatively impacting fish and wildlife and the habitats on which they depend.

Join us for a special Plenary Session and hear perspectives from three individuals on the front lines of this issue. Whether you have extensive experience in this issue or are trying to learn all you can, this plenary session will no doubt better inform you on what is one of the most pressing issues facing our nation, our environment and our fish and wildlife resources today.

Guest speakers:
Tom Strickland, Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish & Wildlife and Parks and Chief of Staff to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar. The Department of the Interior will play a key role on the future of renewable energy and fish and wildlife conservation.

Jack Hunt, CEO and President of the King Ranch, Inc in South Texas., who overseas operations on one of the worlds largest ranches. The King Ranch is a diverse operation and includes a very active fish and wildlife management and ecotourism operation.

T. Boone Pickens, founder and chairman of BP Capital Management and proponent of his national Pickens Plan promoting alternatives to oil

Link to 2009 Annual Meeting Plenary Session:

Webcast Production Provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Friday, August 7, 2009

NEW Quarterly Newsletter: The Invasive Species Bulletin

The Association’s Invasive Species Committee released its first Invasive Species Bulletin this week. It is a quarterly e-publication focusing on state invasive species actions. The Bulletin is populated with reports written by state invasive species coordinators on efforts to manage invasive species through outreach, collaboration, legislation and control techniques. The next issue is expected to be released this fall with more state reports. The Invasive Species Committee hopes to use the bulletin as a communication platform between states as well as the greater conservation community.

Check out the Summer 2009 issue of the Invasive Species Bulletin

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Senator Johnson Awarded for His Leadership in Helping to Prevent Wildlife from Becoming Endangered

The Teaming With Wildlife Coalition and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies honored Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today for championing federal funding for state-based wildlife conservation as part of the Teaming With Wildlife Act, which he introduced in March 2009.

The award recognizes the Senator’s leadership in supporting legislation to establish a first-of-its-kind funding program to help state fish and wildlife agencies further move their State Wildlife Action Plans into on-the-ground action to prevent at risk wildlife from becoming endangered nationwide.

“I am honored to receive this award from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies,” Johnson said. “South Dakota has a deep history of appreciation for the outdoors and that’s why I introduced important legislation that will help preserve our wildlife.”

As introduced by Senator Johnson, the Teaming With Wildlife Act would provide $350 million annually over five years through a portion of the royalties collected from Outer Continental Shelf drilling and mineral development on federal land to help state agencies carry out their State Wildlife Action Plans, the primary, comprehensive conservation tool adopted in every state and territory to keep fish and wildlife healthy and off the list of threatened and endangered species.

“We are grateful to Senator Johnson for recognizing that taking action to conserve wildlife before it becomes endangered is environmentally sound and fiscally responsible to taxpayers, said Matt Hogan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “Once a species declines to the point of potential extinction, recovery efforts become risky and expensive. The Teaming With Wildlife Act is a major milestone in the effort to secure dedicated funding essential for state agencies’ fish and wildlife conservation efforts.”

In addition to state fish and wildlife agencies, the Teaming With Wildlife Act has the active support of the 6,100-member Teaming With Wildlife Coalition, which is the largest and most diverse wildlife conservation alliance ever assembled in the U.S. representing millions of birdwatchers, hikers, anglers, hunters, outdoor enthusiasts and conservation professionals.

To lean more about Teaming With Wildlife and State Wildlife Action Plans, visit http://www.teaming.com/ and http://www.wildlifeactionplans.org/.

Photo (l-r): Mark Humpert, AFWA Wildlife Diversity Director; Matt Hogan, AFWA Executive Director; Senator Tim Johnson; representing the Teaming With Wildlife Coalition --Laura Bies, Director of Government Affairs, The Wildlife Society; Derek Brockbank, Conservation Funding Campaign Director, National Wildlife Federation

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Michigan DNR Director Testifies at Senate Hearing on Threats to Fish and Wildlife from Diseases

Rebecca Humphries, Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Chair of the Association’s Fish and Wildlife Health Committee, testified yesterday on behalf of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the issue of threats to fish and wildlife sustainability from diseases and pathogens.

Director Humphries reflected on the utility of the Association-developed “National Fish and Wildlife Health Initiative” as an approach to addressing this national issue; and addressed the state-federal collaboration on the management of Chronic Wasting Disease as a model to approaching animal diseases that affect both free-ranging fish and wildlife, and domestic animals. Humphries also shared her experiences of managing CWD, Bovine Tuberculosis and Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia in Michigan.

“The dramatically growing importance of fish and wildlife health issues in natural resource management makes it imperative that more human, financial and technological resources can be directed toward them in the future,” said Humphries.

To learn more about the National Fish and Wildlife Health Initiative, go to http://www.fishwildlife.org/about_comm_fwhealth.html.

Read Humphries full testimony >

Thursday, June 18, 2009

State Fish & Wildlife Agencies Support Restoration of Previous Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies appreciates the action of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in reporting the Clean Water Restoration Act out of committee today with a favorable substitute amendment to tightly restore previous jurisdiction.

The amendment to the bill would restore Clean Water Act jurisdiction over isolated, intrastate wetlands and intermittent streams, which are vital habitats for fish and wildlife, to the jurisdictional application that existed prior to two recent Supreme Court decisions (SWANCC,2001; and Carabell-Rapanos,2006). The substitute language is very tightly drafted to only restore previous jurisdiction and not expand jurisdiction. It also imports into statute the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule defining "waters of the United States.”

In support of the favored amendment to the bill, the Association joined with five other state executive branch organizations -- the Environmental Council of the States, the Association of State Wetland Managers, the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators, the Association of State Floodplain Managers and the Coastal States Organization -- in sending a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and its Chairman Senator Barbara Boxer (CA), on June 10, 2009.

The letter states:

“We have reviewed the compromise language for the Clean Water Restoration Act that your staff and the offices of Senators Baucus and Klobuchar reached as of June 10, 2009. We endorse this approach to solving the nation's Clean Water Act jurisdictional issues.

We believe that the clarified definition of “waters of the United States” will achieve a definitive return to the Act as it was without increasing or reducing the scope of its jurisdiction. The exemptions for agriculture, silviculture and other activities would remain in place. Further, we believe that the compromise language's reliance on the previous regulatory definition and interpretations of it neither broadens or lessens federal authority, nor causes a loss of states’ rights. We note that the compromise language makes findings that assert that “ground waters” and certain manmade artificial waters are not included in the jurisdiction of the Act. Also, the compromise language explicitly grounds these Clean Water Act protections within the scope of Congress' constitutional authorities.

We strongly encourage Congress and the Administration to continue to work together to make State Assumption of Section 404 a viable option, as it is for other sections of the Act. Primarily, a new authority is needed that authorizes EPA to provide states with grants to implement wetlands protection programs.

We are hopeful that the bill will pass out of committee and be enacted by the Senate at its earliest opportunity. Thank you for considering our views.”

View the letter >

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

MD DNR Deputy Secretary Delivers Congressional Testimony on behalf of Assoc. of Fish & Wildlife Agencies in Strong Support of Fish Habitat Legislation

On behalf of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Eric Schwaab, Deputy Secretary, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, today testified at a House Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing in support of the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (NFHCA) (HR2565) and the Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act (PSSCA) (HR2055).

Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Ron Kind (WI) on May 21, 2009, the NFHCA is a high priority for the Association. The bill would create an architecture for the National Fish Habitat Action Plan; authorize and define the National Fish Habitat Board; identify terms for Fish Habitat Partnerships and standards for projects to be submitted for funding consideration; establish a National Fish Habitat Partnership office under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; authorize the program at $75M; and other provisions.

“The Plan offers an investment strategy to support and formalize a fledgling infrastructure already working hard unto that end,” said Schwaab. “The investment will pay rich dividends — clean water, healthy ecosystems, abundant fish, fewer ESA listings, and quality water-based places to recreate, which will also support our economy. Absent the funding contemplated in the Act, it will be difficult to sustain the existing momentum and voluntary coordination of federal and state agencies in progress.”

The PSSCA, introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (CA), seeks to focus Pacific salmon conservation efforts on high priority conservation areas.

“The PSSCA will build the third leg of the stool to complement the NFHCA and existing salmon habitat conservation programs by focusing on public/private efforts to identify and protect a range-wide network of strongholds, facilitating a holistic and balanced approach to wild salmon conservation,” added Schwaab. “This added element is essential for helping the National Fish Habitat Board achieve its national goals by contributing to regional and international coordinated conservation actions specific to Pacific salmon.”

For more information about the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, the most comprehensive, science-based effort ever attempted to treat the causes of aquatic habitat decline and the fix the nation’s most pressing fisheries problems, visit www.fishhabitat.org.

Read the full testimony >

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Landmark Fish Habitat Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate

Legislation offers grassroots, tanglible solutions to restore America's waterways

Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Robert Casey (D-PA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Bernie Sanders (ID-VT) on June 9 introduced the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act of 2009, a comprehensive strategy to support and fund for effective conservation of our national waterways and the fisheries associated with them.

“The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, which I introduced today along with Senators Bond, Casey, Stabenow, Cardin, Whitehouse, Crapo and Sanders, will revolutionize how we as a nation approach fish habitat conservation issues,” said Senator Lieberman. “With 40 percent of our fish populations in decline and half of our nation’s fresh waters already impaired, the current fragmented approach to fish habitat protection has clearly not worked and in turn put aquatic resources preservation in a race against time.”

“This bill encourages collaborative regional conservation efforts that bring together federal government agencies, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations, fishing industry groups, private land owners, stakeholders and businesses,” he added. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to enact this critical legislation to help conserve fish stocks and habitat across the country.”

The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act addresses a continuing and alarming downward trend in our nation’s fish species resulting from loss in the amount and quality of our nation’s most important freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats.

Under this legislation, federal and state governments, the recreational and commercial fishing industries, the conservation community and businesses will work together collectively to voluntarily conserve (protect, restore and enhance) America’s aquatic habitats. The legislation will ensure that science-based conservation approaches that focus on the causes of habitat degradation and not on the symptoms of the many problems our waters face are utilized to change the trajectory of our nation’s waters.

The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act also leverages existing and critical, new federal, state and private funds to build voluntary regional partnerships equipped to use science based strategies and actions to solve the nation’s biggest fisheries problems associated with habitat loss and degradation.

The bill is supported by numerous leading conservation organizations including the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, the American Sportfishing Association, The Nature Conservancy, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Trout Unlimited, American Fly Fishing Trade Association and several federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations and other trade organizations, all of which share a common interest in the success of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.

“I would first like to express my sincere gratitude to the sponsors of the bill and their commitment to improving the quality of life in this country,” said Kelly Hepler, of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. “The waterways in our country are the true lifeblood of our nation. The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act will not only provide additional fishing opportunities but will also improve the overall health of our fresh and marine waters and therefore the health of our families.”

Legislation that mirrors the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act introduced in the Senate was also introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (HR2565) by Representative Ron Kind (WI) on May 21, 2009.

Read full story

National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (Senate Bill - PDF)

America’s Wildlife Heritage Act will Level the Playing Field for Fish and Wildlife

WASHINGTON—Representatives Ron Kind (WI) and Walter Jones (NC) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives yesterday that will help improve populations of fish and wildlife on America’s National Forests and BLM lands.

The America’s Wildlife Heritage Act would end years of litigation and uncertainty surrounding the fish and wildlife planning protocols for federal lands by providing the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with clear directives and science-based tools to sustain and monitor healthy populations of fish and wildlife and their lands. The bill further would require improved coordination between federal and state agencies to achieve their mutual objectives.

“In addition to creating standards for establishing fish and wildlife population objectives to which BLM and FS land management plans are to aspire, the bill significantly directs and facilitates that these population objectives be achieved based on an evaluation and monitoring program that is designed and implemented in cooperation with the state fish and wildlife agencies,” said Gary Taylor, Legislative Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

“States have principal authorities and responsibilities for managing fish and wildlife within their borders, including on most federal lands, and it is vitally important that the states and federal land managers work closely together to enhance the sustainability of fish, wildlife and their habitats on these important multiple-use public lands,” added Taylor.

Forest Service and BLM lands hold some of the best remaining lands for big game and sport fish species, provide habitat for countless other species, both imperiled and common, and protect some 3,400 public water supplies. But they are also under increasing pressure oil and gas planned development and the serious changes wrought by global warming.

“The America’s Wildlife Heritage Act is a bill that is good for America’s sportsmen and women because it will compel the federal land management agencies to do a much better job of prioritizing the needs of fish and wildlife populations in their planning processes,” said Steve Williams, President of the Wildlife Management Institute. “Fish and wildlife have taken a back seat to oil and gas leasing and other uses of federal lands for too long, and this bill will level the playing field as our nation’s multiple use laws have always intended,” said Williams.

“Hunters and anglers are do-ers, and we are sometimes skeptical of planning and monitoring,” said Steve Moyer, Vice President of Government Affairs at Trout Unlimited. But we know that with the many forces of habitat destruction on our public lands, especially the adverse affects of climate change, our federal land managers must plan and monitor better if we are to enjoy hunting and fishing in coming generations,” concluded Moyer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

$61 Million in State Wildlife Grants Will Help State Fish and Wildlife Agencies Conserve Species and Habitats at Greatest Risk of Becoming Endangered

More than $61 million will be distributed to the fish and wildlife agencies of the 50 states, commonwealths, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories to help conserve and recover imperiled fish and wildlife species through the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) Competitive Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced yesterday.

The State Wildlife Grants Program provides federal dollars to every state and territory to support the development and implementation of their unique State Wildlife Action Plans, which assess the health of each state’s wildlife and habitats, identify the problems they face and outline the actions needed to conserve them over the long term to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered.

“The State Wildlife Grant program exemplifies the Department of the Interior’s strong support for conservation efforts by the states,” said Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. “Along with President Obama’s commitment to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the State Wildlife Grants will provide states critical funding to help conserve their highest priority wildlife, plants and habitat.”

“State and territorial fish and wildlife agencies have a long history of success in conserving game species, thanks to the support of hunter and angler license fees and federal excise taxes; but 90 percent of our nation’s wildlife—tens of thousands of species—is neither hunted nor fished,” said Matt Hogan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “State Wildlife Grants help to partially fill the gap in conservation funding by supporting projects that prevent all wildlife from declining to the point of being endangered.”

Projects supported by State Wildlife Grants protect and restore important lands and waters; collect information on what kinds of wildlife are in trouble; and facilitate partnerships with landowners to protect declining species and habitats on public and private lands. Priority for use of grant funds is placed on those species and habitats with the greatest conservation need.

“By emphasizing a proactive approach, the State Wildlife Grants Program supports states and territories in their efforts to conserve wildlife and habitats before they become more rare, risky and costly to protect,” said Mark Humpert, Teaming With Wildlife Director at the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The 6,000-member Teaming With Wildlife coalition, made up of organizations and businesses, strongly supports increased State Wildlife Grant funding for wildlife conservation, education and nature-based recreation.

Congress created the State Wildlife Grants Program in FY2002, funded from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Funds appropriated under the program are allocated to each state and other eligible jurisdictions according to a formula based on land area and population. Since the program’s inception, Congress has distributed more than $500 million for conservation work on state and private lands.

For more information about State Wildlife Action Plans and to read an accomplishments report, visit www.wildlifeactionplans.org.

To view the State Wildlife Grant allocations for each state, go to http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/SWG/SWG09Apportionment.pdf.

Friday, May 15, 2009

“The American Clean Energy and Security Act” Introduced Today – Could Be Best Insurance for Natural Resources in Uncertain Changing Climate

Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Henry Waxman (CA) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman, Edward Markey (MA), introduced the “The American Clean Energy and Security Act” this afternoon. The 932-page bill (HR 2454) proposes policy for a cleaner, energy-independent America that considers the impacts of climate change on fish and wildlife and their habitats and promises dedicated funding to state and federal natural resource agencies to safeguard our nation’s natural resources.

The Energy and Commerce Committee will begin markup of the bill on Monday, May 18 at 1:00 p.m., which is anticipated to win approval before the Memorial Day recess.

Earlier today, the Association issued a joint statement with the National Wildlife Federation, Pheasants Forever, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited and the Izaak Walton League thanking Chairmen Dingell, Waxman and Markey on behalf of sportsmen and women for championing the bill's adaptation funding.

State Fish & Wildlife Agencies Praise Waxman-Markey Allocation Plan Champions for Dedicating Funds to Safeguard Natural Resources from Climate Change

Chairmen helping to ensure the future of fish and wildlife conservation in the face of climate change while providing Americans with a healthier environment

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies applauds Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Henry Waxman (CA); Chairman Emeritus, John Dingell (MI); and Edward Markey (MA), Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman, for their leadership in dedicating funding for wildlife and natural resources protection in their proposed Waxman-Markey Allowance Allocation released today for the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

Starting at one percent of the total allowance value in 2012 and increasing to four percent by 2027, the portion of climate-derived revenue from the auction of carbon credits allocated to state and federal natural resource adaptation programs would help to remediate the effects of a changing climate on fish, wildlife and their habitats.

"We appreciate the work of Chairmen Waxman, Dingell and Markey and all of the conservation champions who drafted the emissions allowance allocations to be included in the bill,” said Matt Hogan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “Pressures on fish and wildlife and their habitats caused by climate change emphasize the need for increased conservation and science-based management and the appropriate, dedicated funding to do so.”

For more than 100 years, state fish and wildlife agencies have been addressing threats to fish and wildlife including altered habitat, invasive species, the spread of diseases and population changes; however, climate change is escalating and accelerating these threats, making it much more difficult and costly for agencies to manage.

Funded, adaptation programs that are delivered by state and federal agencies in partnership with the private conservation community are not only vital to the health of fish and wildlife resources; but also to the quality of life for Americans that functioning ecosystems likewise provide.

Functioning habitats provide cleaner air and water and flood attenuation as well as carbon capture through sequestration. The economic contributions accrued from the recreational use of natural resources support millions of jobs nationwide and stimulate nearly ten percent of all consumer spending.

“The Chairmen have laid a strong and broad foundation for critical natural resources adaptation programs that will help ensure the sustainability of fish and wildlife, provide Americans with healthier environments and deliver economic benefits to communities nationwide,” added Hogan. “We look forward to continuing to work with them to report the bill out of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and on subsequent passage by the House."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Association Testifies Concerning Migratory Bird Joint Ventures and Duck Stamp Fee

On behalf of the Association, Kristin Saunders Evans, Assistant Secretary for Land Resources of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, testified yesterday before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee in strong support of the Joint Ventures Burd Conservation Act of 2009 (HR2188) from Congressman Frank Kratovil (MD) that would provide express authority for the migratory bird Joint Ventures (JVs); and in support of a bill from Congressman John Dingell the Migratory Bird Habitat Investment and Enhancement Act (HR1916), that would incrementally increase the federal duck stamp fee.

The Association worked closely with the Subcommittee staff and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) staff in drafting the JVs bill to ensure that the bill reflects the success of the existing JVs as being grounded in a federal-state-private partnership; gives statutory deference to existing JVs; and establishes guidance for USFWS consideration of new JVs.

"The conservation of migratory birds is essential not only to the mission of the state fish and wildlife agencies, but to the core values of American society," said Saunders Evans. "Only through multi-scale partnerships that embrace an integrated, science-based approach to migratory bird conservation can we hope to achieve our common goals for the conservation of migratory birds and other wildlife."

The Association also has supported for several years an increase to the federal duck stamp, which has remained at $15 since 1991. HR1916 would raise the fee starting in 2010 to $25 until 2020 and to $35 thereafter.

"It is imperative, especially in light of future impacts of climate change, that we maintain enough high quality habitats across the hemisphere to sustain viable populations of migratory birds," added Saunders Evans. "This is why the Joint Ventures for Bird Habitat Conservation (HR2188) and the Migratory Bird Habitat Investment and Enhancement Act (H.R. 1916), programs that emphasize habitat conservation and management across the hemisphere, are so critical.

Read full testimony

Friday, May 8, 2009

Association HQ Highlighting 2009 First Quarter Progress Now Available

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies today released its second issue of the Association HQ—Highlights Quarterly, which summarizes what the Association accomplished in the first quarter of 2009.

Leading off the HQ-1Q 2009, Matt Hogan, the Association’s Executive Director, considers the question, “Are we relevant?” followed by an overview of some of the major issues and actions that the Association committees addressed at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in March and the impact of those issues on the work of state fish and wildlife agencies.

This edition also provides a report on the activities of the 111th Congress between January and March relevant to fish and wildlife funding and legislation as well as progress achieved in advancing cross-cutting member issues and species-based interests through programs, partnerships, outreach and other initiatives.

Read Association HQ-1Q highlighting activities of the Association from January, February and March 2009.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Congress Identifies State Natural Resource Agencies in the No Child Left Inside Act of 2009

Senator Jack Reed (RI) and Representative John Sarbanes (MD) introduced Senate and House versions of the “No Child Left Inside Act” legislation on Earth Day, April 22.

“Climate change, conservation of precious natural resources, maintaining clean air and water and other environmental challenges are pressing and complex issues that influence human health, economic development, and national security,” said Senator Reed in his introductory comments. “Environmental education will help ensure that our nation's children have the knowledge and skills necessary to address these critical issues. In short, the environment should be an important part of the curriculum in our schools.”

The legislation will authorize $100 million over each of the next five years for developing school curricula for outdoor learning activities, teacher professional development and the creation of state environmental literacy plans.

“It's great to see that the state environmental literacy plans are to be developed by state education departments in consultation with state environmental agencies and state natural resources agencies, and to see that state natural resources agencies will be eligible to receive sub grants,” observed Dr. Judy Silverberg, chair of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Conservation Education Strategy Working Group and Wildlife Education Programs Supervisor with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. “The good news for state fish and wildlife agencies is that state natural resource agencies are specifically identified in both House and Senate versions. ”

State natural resource agencies were not included in an earlier version of the bill passed by the House last year.

The 2009 legislation requires state educational agencies to develop environmental literacy plans “in consultation with state environmental agencies and state natural resource agencies.” State natural resource agencies also will be eligible for sub grants to provide professional development to teachers and for environmental education capacity building, in partnership with state educational agencies.

The Association and its member state fish and wildlife agencies are well positioned to take advantage of the new legislation. The Association’s Conservation Education (CE) Strategy has developed the K-12 Conservation Education Scope and Sequence, which outlines a set of expectations of what students should know and be able to do regarding natural resources conservation for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

The CE Strategy also has developed a Field Investigations Guide, which shows teachers how to conduct field investigations based on the research methods used by fish and wildlife agency biologists. A working session at the Association's recent Conservation Education Conference in Arkansas focused on environmental literacy plans. Future actions of the CE Strategy include coordinating with state education department science supervisors to incorporate core concepts into state science standards and to add social studies, technology and math correlations to the Field Investigations Guide.

The Association is a member of the No Child Left Inside Coalition, a group of about 1,300 organizations to advocate for greater outdoor educational and recreational activity in schools.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

National Fish Habitat Action Plan Unveils 10 "waters to Watch" in 2009

The National Fish Habitat Action Plan today unveiled the 2009 10 "Waters to Watch” list, a collection of rivers, streams, lakes, watershed systems and shores that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore or enhance their current condition. These waters represent a snapshot of current conservation efforts that the Action Plan is undertaking to provide cleaner and healthier habitats for the many fish and wildlife species and people who call these areas home.

Thanks to the combined actions of concerned community groups, non-profit organizations, local watershed groups, Native American tribes and state and federal agencies, these waters are being improved by planting stream-side vegetation, removing structures blocking fish from habitat and protecting bodies of water from the effects of industrial processes, agriculture and livestock.

The 10 “Waters to Watch” are representative of freshwater to marine waters across the country including lakes and reservoirs that are improving through the conservation efforts of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan—a bold initiative to reverse persistent declines in aquatic habitat.

The Action Plan’s 10 “Waters to Watch” Initiative was first unveiled in 2007 through its Fish Habitat Partnerships. Since 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided $5.8 million to support 136 on-the-ground projects in 35 states, leveraging $15.1 million in partner match, to address the priorities of the Fish Habitat Partnerships, along with funding from several other state and federal agencies and NGO’s.

“Our approach—teaming federal, state and local partners—is helping to bring these waters back to life in most cases…in a faster more strategic way,” said Kelly Hepler, Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. “By watching these 10 models of our nation’s aquatic conservation efforts, we can see real progress in treating the causes of fish habitat decline, not just the symptoms. These specific projects display on the ground work that can be held high as a vision of what quality habitat should be, which affects all people throughout the United States.”

The 10 Waters to Watch in 2009 include:

Agulowak River, Alaska - The Agulowak River is one of the salmon rich jewels of Southwest Alaska. The river provides a robust fishery for sport anglers, subsistence and commercial users. The Conservation Fund and the Nushagak-Mulchatna / Wood-Tikchik Land Trust working together have secured a conservation easement with the major Native corporation landowner on its land within the Wood-Tikchik State Park, including both banks of the Agulowak River and approximately 39 miles of shoreline along Lakes Aleknagik and Nerka—a total of about 20,850 acres of land with high fish and wildlife values.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park, North Carolina - Restoring coastal marsh habitat and protecting shorelines from erosion are the goals of this project in the Outer Banks, one of the nation’s most famous coastal habitats. Oyster reef creation and native cordgrass plantings are already underway.

Lake Houston, Texas – Restoring native aquatic vegetation and reducing sedimentation will improve fish habitat for the entire watershed both upstream and downstream of Lake Houston, as well as within the reservoir, which is an important lifeline both economically and recreationally to the people of Houston.

Lower Flint River, Georgia – Cool water flowing from springs in the Flint River provides critical thermal refuge habitat for Gulf Striped Bass during the warm summer months. Sediment and debris clogs the springs, reducing flow and reducing fish habitat. This project will clean out the springs and enhance flows to provide more habitat for more fish.

Maggie Creek, Nevada – Improvement in agricultural and mining practices is helping to restore habitat in this Humboldt River tributary, helping Lohontan Cutthroat Trout, a federally listed threatened species.

Meramec Watershed Basin, Missouri – This unique project teams agricultural landowners, state and federal agencies, and NGOs to identify shared goals that balance fish habitat with farming needs in the watershed by instilling stream friendly farming practices which ultimately improve fish habitat."

Pine Creek, Wisconsin - Restoring stream banks which reduce sedimentation deposits will ultimately benefit this mid-Western fishery, enhancing a declining population of Eastern Brook Trout.

South Fork Little Conemaugh River, Pennsylvania – Historic acid mine drainage will be mitigated through limestone beds and limestone dosing to resurrect this four mile stretch of Pennsylvania brook trout waters, increasing population in this critical tributary.
Teton Creek, Idaho – Restoring stream channels and eroding stream banks will help reduce sedimentation throughout this Western tributary, the largest of the Teton River, to provide pristine habitat to Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.

Whitethorn Creek, West Virginia – Riparian restoration and natural stream channel will decrease temperatures and provide cover and holding habitat in this critical wild brook trout system located in the headwaters of the South Branch of the Potomac.

“Whether you measure the effect of these 10 success stories in feet or miles of fish and wildlife habitat conserved, these kinds of concerted actions are what it is going to take to get our nation’s waters back into shape,” said Hepler. “We believe the Waters recognized today will be the impetus for thousands of projects accomplished in the future.”

The National Fish Habitat Action Plan is built on a framework of National Fish Habitat Partnerships. These regional-scale efforts include the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, the Western Native Trout Initiative, the Driftless Area Restoration Effort, the Matanuska-Susitna Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership, the Southwest Alaska Salmon Habitat Partnership, the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership, the Desert Fish Habitat Partnership and the Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership. There are also 11 “Candidate” Fish Habitat Partnerships that have stated their intent to apply for full NFHAP Board recognition. The Action Plan calls for the creation of at least 12 Fish Habitat Partnerships by 2010 to help identify the causes of habitat declines and implement corrective initiatives for aquatic conservation and restoration.

Since its launch three years ago, the Action Plan has received wide public support. To date nearly 1,000 partners have pledged their support including a range of organizations interested in the health of the nation’s fisheries such as fishing clubs, international conservation organizations, federal agencies, angling industries and academia. Complete information on the scope of the plan is available at http://www.fishhabitat.org/.

The Action Plan is complemented by the “More Fish” campaign administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which is taking the lead in raising funds for these and other projects under the Action Plan. Information about the campaign can be found at http://www.morefish.org/.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

$3.6 Million Awarded to Help States Safeguard Nature in an Era of Climate Change

Grant will enable state fish and wildlife agencies in updating
and implementing their wildlife action plans

NEW YORK —The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) announced last week grants totaling nearly $3.6 million over four years to help states account for climate change in their wildlife action plans. The grants were awarded to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

“The challenge that climate change poses to the natural places that people, plants and animals need to survive is something that must be brought into our planning processes,” said Dr. Mark Shaffer, director of DDCF’s Environment Program. “The good news is that in every state, officials already have worked with scientists, conservationists, sportsmen and other concerned citizens to develop what are known as wildlife action plans, so we can focus our efforts on updating these plans to account for climate change, and implementing these plans on an accelerated timeline, rather than starting from scratch.”

“Wildlife action plans have proven to be an effective way for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and interested individuals to find and focus on a state’s highest conservation priorities, ensuring that we get the most out of every conservation dollar spent,” said Matt Hogan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. In addition to representing state fish and wildlife agencies, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies leads Teaming With Wildlife, the national conservation coalition of 6,000 organizations that support the full implementation of the state wildlife action plans to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered.

State wildlife action plans were first conceived in 2000, when Congress mandated that each state develop a comprehensive strategy for conserving its wildlife. The states submitted their plans to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the fall of 2005, and they were all approved by February of 2007. In developing these plans, state wildlife agencies identified species and habitats in greatest need of conservation attention. Additional information about the wildlife action plans can be found at www.wildlifeactionplans.org.

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies will receive a DDCF grant of $800,000 over four years in support of a set of activities aimed both at updating the action plans to account for climate change and advancing the implementation of the action plans on the ground. Specific activities will include developing guidance to help states incorporate climate change into their action plans, facilitating nationally coordinated conservation of at-risk amphibians and reptiles, and developing national effectiveness measures related to the implementation of the plans.

Defenders of Wildlife will use its $1.2 million grant to assist states in developing strategies to address the impacts of climate change with a special focus on the issue of corridors and connectivity including the development of a synthesis guide to mapping priority areas in the context of wildlife plans and conducting workshops examining the ways in which the state wildlife action plans can assist in transportation planning.

With a grant of $1.2 million, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) will assist agencies in pilot states ( NY, NC, OR, VA and WA) with vulnerability assessments, identify and promote best practices in planning for climate change, and track progress in implementing those practices. NWF also will work with Teaming With Wildlife coalitions.

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) will receive a grant of approximately $400,000 to create a multimedia public communications campaign to inform sportsmen of the effects of climate change on fish and wildlife, and inspire additional support for integrating and implementing climate change strategies as part of the state wildlife action plans.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Teaming With Wildlife 2.0

Teaming With Wildlife has gone 2.0!

Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Washington-DC/Teaming-with-Wildlife/34784507665. You can find this link on the Teaming With Wildlife Homepage at http://www.teaming.com/.

TWW is also blogging away to help spread the word in gaining support funding dedicated to fish and wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation and conservation education in every state.
You can find the blog at http://teaming-with-wildlife.blogspot.com/ and under the Newsroom Section on the TWW website.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Interior Secretary Salazar Awards More Than $300,000 to Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

On April 24, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced an award of $319,833 for a national multistate grant, led and coordinated by the Missouri Department of Conservation, for amphibian and reptile conservation and management throughout the continental United States. The federal funding, which is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grants Program, will be matched by $145,585 in non-Federal funds provided by State wildlife agencies and their partners.

The grant is part of nearly $9 million in SWG Competitive Program funds awarded to 12state wildlife agencies across the country to help imperiled fish, wildlife and plant species.

“The projects funded by these grants target some of the most imperiled species and habitats in the United States. They’re also among the most effective, because they are tied to well thought-out conservation plans that identify the highest priorities in each state – as well as the areas where we can make the biggest difference for imperiled species,” said Salazar.

Led by the Missouri Department of Conservation, this project will evaluate amphibian and reptile species of concern for vulnerabilities to climate change, priority habitats, and monitoring needs; and will provide capacity building opportunities for state wildlife agencies with respect to amphibians and reptiles. The project includes partners from 14 states and represents a national cooperative effort to address amphibian and reptile conservation needs.

“There are still so many gaps in our knowledge of amphibians and reptiles,” said Priya Nanjappa, Amphibian and Reptile Coordinator for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “This grant will help provide the basic tools and resources necessary at a national scale, which will assist management of these species at a local scale.”

The SWG Competitive Program awards grants to projects that implement strategies and actions to conserve imperiled species contained in approved State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plans (also known as State Wildlife Action Plans). Grants are scored using criteria developed by a team of Service and state wildlife agency directors. Funding for the grants comes from Fiscal Year 2008 and 2009 appropriations for the SWG Competitive Program.

All 56 states and territorial wildlife agencies have approved State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plans, which collectively provide a nationwide blueprint for actions to conserve imperiled species. The Plans were created through a collaborative effort among state and federal agencies, biologists, conservationists, landowners, sportsmen and the general public. Each Plan was then reviewed and approved by a national team that included members from the USFWA and directors from state fish and wildlife agencies.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Second Annual National Fish Habitat Award Winners Announced

A group of the nation’s leading authorities on aquatic conservation, the National Fish Habitat Board, will honor two exceptional organizations and two individual champions in aquatic resource conservation at the Second Annual National Fish Habitat Awards ceremony on April 27, 2009 at the Jim Range National Casting Call hosted by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association.

From nominations submitted by the hundreds of organizations that comprise the National Fish Habitat Partners Coalition, the awardees demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to fish habitat conservation, science and education. They are leading by example to help resolve the nation’s most significant fisheries problems.

For 2009, the selection committee added an additional award category, Extraordinary Action category in support of fish habitat, bringing the total number of awards to four. Also, in honor of the recently passed Jim Range, who tragically lost his battle with cancer, the selection committee has re-named the Exceptional Vision Award in Jim’s honor. The award will now be the Jim Range Conservation Vision Award.

“Renaming the Award in honor of Jim, is just a small token to honor all that he has done in Washington to support fish and wildlife conservation. The Board found it fitting to rename the award and there is no better venue to honor Jim than Casting Call.” said Kelly Hepler, National Fish Habitat Board Chairman. “Jim was a true pioneer for conservation and was a true visionary when it came to fish and wildlife related issues.”

The Winners of the 2009 National Fish Habitat Awards are as follows:

Outreach and Education Award: The Lake Leaders Institute, University of Wisconsin-Extension Lakes
The goal of the Wisconsin Lake Leaders Institute is to enhance Wisconsin’s lake resources through education, leadership and citizen action. The Institute assists citizens in developing and improving both their technical and people skills, to enrich their communities and the waters within them. Participants learn in an atmosphere of openness, trust, friendship and camaraderie.

Lake Leaders Institute courses give participants the opportunity to take field trips, enjoy natural beauty, exchange and forge ideas, and develop friendships. More than 200 Lake Leaders Institute graduates have made a personal commitment to engage others in their community to ensure our water resources are preserved for future generations.

The University of Wisconsin-Extension (UWEX) Lakes is part of the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. UWEX Lakes (education) works with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (science) and the Wisconsin Association of Lakes (citizens) to form the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership.

Scientific Achievement Award: Stephen J. Jordan, Lisa M. Smith, Janet A. Nestlerode, Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Research and Development
The team of Jordan, Smith and Nestlerode, have broken new ground in quantifying the value of nursery habitats to a major fishery and ecological resource. In their research article (Cumulative Effects of Habitat Alterations on Fishery Resources: Prediction at Regional Scales) published in Ecology and Society, they have modeled how the detailed spatial extent and distribution of marsh and submerged aquatic vegetation affect blue crab recruitment at the scale of the US Gulf of Mexico, and shown how the model can be used to predict the effects of habitat alteration on the fishery. The novel modeling concepts applied to this research can be used more widely in quantitative analysis of the consequences of fish habitat loss and restoration at spatial and temporal scales.

Article Link:(Cumulative Effects of Habitat Alterations on Fishery Resources: Prediction at Regional Scales) http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss1/art16/

Jim Range Conservation Vision Award: Yvon Chouinard
Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia's founder, started Patagonia in 1973 to meet the equipment and clothing needs of outdoor enthusiasts, primarily rock climbers, hikers and anglers. From the very beginning, Patagonia devoted time and money to the increasingly apparent national and world-wide environmental crisis. Yvon saw what was happening in the remote corners of the world: creeping pollution and deforestation, the slow, then not so slow, disappearance of fish and wildlife and decided to do something about it. Since then, Patagonia never looked back.

Yvon had the foresight and commitment to have Patagonia become a leader in giving back to natural resources to ensure their future viability and stability. In 1986, Patagonia began a program that makes it unique among corporate entities that care about fisheries habitat. Patagonia committed to donate 10% of profits each year to grassroots environmental groups.
The company later upped the ante to 1% of sales or 10% of profits, whichever was greater.

Patagonia has kept to that commitment every year since and placed a high emphasis on fishery habitat protection over the years as evidenced by the starting of the World Trout Initiative to specifically address trout habitats and populations; the 1% For the Planet program that supports local grassroots projects which include fishery habitat projects; and the Conservation Alliance – a program that enlists other funding sources to participate in wildlife and fisheries habitat projects.

Extraordinary Action Award: Project SHARE
Project SHARE (Salmon Habitat and River Enhancement), a 501(c)3 organization, was created in 1994 through the efforts of concerned landowners, salmon anglers, businesses and various government agencies, to establish a forum to protect and enhance Atlantic salmon habitat in the five Downeast rivers of Maine.

SHARE's mission is to conserve and protect Atlantic salmon habitat in the Dennys, Machias, East Machias, Pleasant and Narraguagus rivers. This is based on the premise of voluntary participation by area landowners, businesses, as well as local, state and federal government, academia, conservation organizations, research and educational interests and any other entity that will enhance the healthy functioning of these riverine ecosystems. Since 2006, Steve Koenig, Project SHARE Executive Director, has completed 22 USDA NRCS/WHIP projects that contributed $930,000 for stream habitat connectivity projects in Downeast Maine. The more impressive figure is the 19 additional WHIP (additional $1,000,000) projects currently under contract.

Combining landowner and other contributions to Project SHARE’s WHIP projects, these 41 stream restoration projects equate to nearly $2.6 million in on-the-ground conservation efforts that benefit Endangered Atlantic Salmon and other Service trust species such as brook trout and American eel.

For more information about the National Fish Habitat Awards, go to www.fishhabitat.org.

For details about the Jim Range National Casting Call, visit www.nationalcastingcall.org.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

National Conservation Needs for 2010 Multistate Conservation Grant Cycle

National Conservation Needs
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies is pleased to announce the seven National Conservation Needs for the 2010 Multistate Conservation Grant Program (MSCGP) Cycle:

Agricultural Conservation Committee
Subject 1: Integration of Fish and Wildlife Needs as the Conservation Provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill are Implemented

Angler/Boating Participation and Hunting and Shooting Sports Participation Committees
Subject 2: Outdoor Heritage – Participation, Recruitment and Retention in Hunting, Fishing and Conservation-related Recreational Activities

Climate Change Committee and the Midwest Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
Subject 3: Regional Climate Change Workshops for State Fish & Wildlife Managers on Current Information and Tools for Management of Fish and Wildlife

Executive Committee
Subject 4: State Fish and Wildlife Agency Coordination and Administration

Fish & Wildlife Health Committee
Subject 5: A National Fish and Wildlife Health Initiative

Fisheries/Water Resources Policy Committee
Subject 6: Formation and Operations of Fish Habitat Partnerships to Facilitate National Fish Habitat Action Plan Implementation

International Relations Committee
Subject 7: Protect State Wildlife Agencies’ Authority to Sustainably Manage Wildlife Resources in Concert with Federal Actions Required by International Treaties and Conventions

Letters of Intent
The MSCGP is now soliciting Letters of Intent for the 2010 cycle of this competitive grant program. Letters are due by midnight EDT Wednesday, May 6, 2009.

For more information about applying to the program carefully review the Guidelines below.

2010 MSCGP Letters of Intent Guidelines

2010 National Conservation Needs

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional information about the Program is available at http://www.fishwildlife.org/multistate_grants.html

Contact Christina Zarrella, MSCGP Coordinator at czarrella@fishwildlife.org with questions.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Applauds Obama’s Signing Historic Public Lands Bill

Washington, DC – President Barack Obama today signed into law, the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. A bundling together of more than 160 individual public lands components, the bill concludes a two-year process through Congress to pass landmark legislation expanding protected wilderness, affirming state fish and wildlife agency authority and bolstering the economy through increased outdoor recreation opportunities.

“Conserving habitats for fish and wildlife is fundamental to ensuring the sustainability of these resources today and for generations to come,” said Matt Hogan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, who attended this afternoon’s White House bill signing. “The Omnibus Public Lands bill recognizes many significant habitats for fish and wildlife that will be managed for the conservation value of these lands and habitats while allowing appropriate uses such as fishing, hunting and wildlife dependent-recreation for all Americans to enjoy the benefits of our great outdoors.”

Among its provisions, the Omnibus Public Lands bill designates upwards of two million acres of new wilderness areas, more than 1,000 miles of wild and scenic rivers and four new national trails as well as creates three new national parks, 10 new national heritage areas and one National Monument and enlarges more than a dozen existing national park units.

The bill also authorizes the establishment of the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) under the Bureau of Land Management and explicitly in the statute affirms the authority of the state fish and wildlife agencies to continue to manage fish and wildlife on these NLCS lands. It also assures continued access to these lands for hunting, fishing, trapping and recreational shooting.

“The Association applauds Congress for passing and the President for enacting into law this legislation, which will yield great returns in preserving America’s treasured places and conserving our rich fish and wildlife legacy,” said Hogan. “In addition to the environmental gains from protecting public lands, the economic results derived from increased hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities are particularly important. Hunters and anglers nationwide contribute more than $120 billion to our economy each year and support close to three million jobs. ”

Read the President’s statement about what he calls one of the most important pieces of natural resource legislation in decades.