Monday, December 8, 2014

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Selects John Lord as Operations Director

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies welcomes John Lord as its new Director of Operations. In this role, Lord will focus on business and investment planning, budget and contract oversight, administrative policy, funding opportunities and more. He also will oversee AFWA’s office relocation to the NoMa neighborhood of Washington, DC in Spring 2015.

Lord brings more than 15 years of experience as an accomplished association administrator and a track record of successful financial management, operations, fundraising and staff leadership.

Most recently, he was the Division Director of Operations and Membership at the American Association of Family & Consumer Science, where he was responsible for all aspects of operations including facilities, finances, human resources, IT, accounting and membership services. Previously, he served as a Director of Managed Society Services with the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. He began his career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand.

In his spare time, Lord volunteers for the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, which is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing activities and outings.

As a life-long fly fisherman and avid bird hunter, I am excited to be merging my passion for fish and wildlife conservation with my professional career path through this position at AFWA,” said Lord.

Lord holds an M.B.A. in non-profit management and marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. in English Literature from Dickinson College.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

AFWA Proudly Honors the Recipients of our 2014 Annual Awards

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) recently recognized seven individuals, two Members of Congress, a vineyard and a group of two state agencies, five federal agencies, four nongovernmental organizations and 31 private landowners for their dedication to advancing fish and wildlife conservation at the Association’s Annual Awards Ceremony held on September 23, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Gary Taylor received the Association’s top honor, the Seth Gordon Award for lifetime achievement in conserving North America’s natural resources in the public trust and contributing to the programs of the Association.

During the 21 years he served as AFWA’s Legislative Director, Taylor represented the collective voice of state fish and wildlife agencies before Congress and worked extensively with federal agencies to navigate difficult and often sensitive issues, build relationships and develop mutually beneficial solutions. He previously spent 19 years with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and most recently worked as Governmental Affairs Director for Ducks Unlimited.

“Gary Taylor is known for approaching his work with the utmost veracity, vigor and passion—adhering always to the highest ethical standard,” said Curtis Taylor, AFWA’s Awards Committee Chair and Chief of the West Virginia Wildlife Resources Section. “Though most of his accomplishments have been achieved well behind the façade of credit and professional accolade, the quality and integrity of Gary’s work is a touchstone and cornerstone of national fish and wildlife policy.”   

“I’ve had a very rewarding and fulfilling career being provided the opportunity to work with so many of you and our state, federal and NGO community to advance fish and wildlife conservation on the ground and later in my career through national policy,” said Taylor.  “I am particularly appreciative of the guidance, counsel and leadership of the state fish and wildlife agency directors, the cooperation of their agency staff and the dedication and commitment of my colleagues at the Association.”

The Association named Congressman John Dingell, Jr., as the recipient of the John L. Morris Award AFWA’s for citizen conservationist of the year for his exemplary leadership, commitment to conservation and undeniable sportsman’s legacy.
John L. Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, personally announced Congressman Dingell as the 2014 recipient of his namesake award though the Congressman was unable to attend the ceremony in person.

“It is my personal honor to present this award to a life-long, tireless champion for protecting fish and wildlife for the citizens of Michigan and for all Americans,” said Morris. “Without question, Congressman Dingell’s great conservation legacy is not one that will be left behind; rather, it will forever be passed forward to people of this nation who will benefit from healthy and sustainable natural resources and who will be able to experience our great and wondrous outdoors for generations to come.”

Some of Congressman Dingell’s notable accomplishments include championing the 1972 Clean Water Act, authoring the Endangered Species Act and writing the National Environmental Policy Act. He has also delivered unwavering support and protection for Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act to conserve fish and their habitats.

Ernest Thompson Seton Award
The Big Hole CCAA Program received AFWA’s Ernest Thompson Seton Award for leadership in promoting scientific wildlife management in recognition of its efforts to accomplish something long thought impossible—to bring the Arctic grayling back from the brink in the Big Hole Valley of Montana.

The Big Hole CCAA Program is a group of state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations NGOs and more than 30 private landowners dedicated to proactively addressing grayling threats at a large scale. Over the last eight years, the CCAA program has provided the opportunity to complete more than 450 habitat improvement projects, putting approximately $6 million into on-the-ground conservation.

“When conservation of fish is discussed in Montana, often the Big Hole CCAA is referenced as one of the primary success stories,” said Jeff Hagener, Director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP). “This is an exemplary project that has come to fruition only due to the collaborative efforts of a multitude of individuals who have had a large role in the development and success of Arctic grayling conservation in the Big Hole Valley.”

Hagener and Emma Cayer with Montana FWP, Jim Magee with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners Program and Kyle Tackett with the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) accepted the award on behalf of the group. The award will be hung at the Hook and Horn Trading Post in Wisdom, Montana, which has a wall dedicated to Artic grayling conservation.

Mark Reeff Memorial Award
Christopher Penne, an aquatic biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), received the Mark Reeff Memorial Award for outstanding young wildlife management professional under 35. AFWA recognized Penne for his innovative habitat work and problem-solving abilities, which continue to produce great dividends for the aquatic resources, for his agency and for Utah’s anglers.
“It’s easy to excel when you really like what you do and when you’ve had good support. I’ve had that the whole way,” said Penne. “I’ve had really supportive parents, mentors and professors, a supportive crew in Utah and great bosses and supervisors all the way.”

Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award 
This year’s recipient of AFWA’s Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award—Gio Martorana, owner of the Martorana Family Vineyardscan answer the question of how to pair wine-making with fish. 

For many years, Martorana has implemented a variety of practices to balance production while protecting and restoring native steelhead and salmon populations at his property on Grape Creek, a tributary to Dry Creek and the Russian River in Sonoma County, California.

The Martorana Family Vineyards has worked to address many of the critical threats that salmonids face in the Russian River and other coastal streams including loss of habitat complexity and riparian cover, barriers to fish passage, water quality issues and low flow resulting from water diversions.

“I love fishing and now I have my own son to teach the ways of the outdoors. Without fish to catch, he cannot understand the feeling one gets when a fish hits your line,” said Martorana. “My son will know that feeling as long as people like us continue to do our work to preserve our fish and wildlife resources. I accept this award for all my neighbors and all of the people who have worked on Grape Creek.”

Conservation Law Enforcement Award
Wildlife Conservation Officer Lee Lawshe with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was selected as the 2014 Conservation Law Enforcement Award recipient for his strong work ethic and commitment to educating Floridians about wildlife safety and raising awareness about his agency’s mission. 

Officer Lawshe makes excellent cases whether in freshwater, saltwater or inland environments and he readily volunteers to work special details. He is also an outstanding instructor and informal peer leader to new officers and works to introduce them to the many aspects of conservation law enforcement and encourages their involvement in the community. 

“You get up every day and you go to work and you don’t always think about the impact you can make,” said Officer Lawshe. “I’d like to think that I try to do that every morning both from a law enforcement side and as a common citizen of the state of Florida. I really think that each and every contact we make as an officer is appreciated when it’s done properly.”

special recognition awards
Finally, the Association presented four special recognition awards for conservation excellence to Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) for championing conservation priorities in the 2014 Farm Bill; Mike Harris for advancing state fish and wildlife diversity programs; Steve Leggans for supporting the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program; and Cindy Delaney of Delaney Meetings & Associates for planning and implementing AFWA’s annual meetings.

In accepting her Special Recognition Award by video, Senator Stabenow conveyed the importance that, “It’s not just farmers who rely on Farm Bill programs. It’s workers in the factory that processes farm products. It’s workers in the hotels and restaurants in a region where tourists and sportsmen flock to hunt wildlife and fish. It’s people who sell sporting goods and lead guided tours.”

Photo l-r: 2013-2014 AFWA President Dan Forster and Seth Gordon Award recipient Gary Taylor

Monday, November 24, 2014

AFWA is Soliciting National Conservation Needs for the 2016 Cycle of the Multistate Conservation Grant Program

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies is now soliciting National Conservation Needs (NCNs) for the 2016 Multistate Conservation Grant Program (MSCGP). NCNs are the foundation of the multistate grant program and establish the states’ priorities for the grant cycle that uses funding from the Wildlife Restoration Fund and Sport Fish Restoration Account.   

Each regional association of fish and wildlife agencies and each AFWA committee are allowed to submit one NCN for consideration by the Association’s National Grants Committee. AFWA committees are encouraged to collaborate and submit joint NCNs.

The National Grants Committee then selects the top NCNs to recommend for state directors’ approval at the March 2015 North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. NCNs are due by February 2, 2015.

The MSCGP was established in 2000 by the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs Improvement Act, which amended the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act and the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act. AFWA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cooperatively administer the grant progam.

Each year, up to $6 million is available to fund MSCGP projects. Projects may be funded for one, two or three years on a calendar year basis.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

National Furbearer Harvest Database Aids State Fish and Wildlife Agencies in Monitoring Trapping and Conserving Furbearer Species

Ever wonder how many beavers are harvested in the U.S. each year via regulated trapping?  Or maybe you want to know how many were harvested in the southeastern U.S. or just in Mississippi? The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) has your answer. 

AFWA’s U.S. Furbearer Conservation Technical Work Group has collected data from state fish and wildlife agencies annually on harvest totals and value of pelts for furbearers since 1970.

The National Furbearer Harvest Database is the only collective source of information about 28 furbearer species including badgers, coyotes, four species of fox, raccoons, four species of skunk, otters, weasels, wolverines and more.

Furbearer populations are often cyclic and impacted by weather conditions and prey species abundance. Furbearer harvests are also heavily correlated with fur value. When the value of pelts is up, harvest will likely increase and vice-versa.

With these factors taken into account, researchers, wildlife managers and many others with an interest in the conservation of furbearers are able to use the National Furbearer Harvest Database to monitor population trends over time at the state, regional and national levels.

Contrary to public perception, furbearer harvest through regulated, law-enforced trapping is good for conservation and sustaining wildlife health and diversity. Trapping is one of the most important ways that biologists can collect data about wildlife including information about wildlife diseases, such as rabies, that can also affect people.

In addition, states rely on trapping to relocate wildlife populations to areas where they once lived but may no longer be found. The restoration of river otters in Missouri was made possible through the use of trapping as a management tool.

In the U.S., during a strict trapping season, licensed trappers are allowed to harvest specific furbearing species that are abundant or overly abundant in their habitats. The trapping season lasts a few months yearly, primarily during the fall and winter. States use this information from the database to help inform their annual trapping season and harvest limits to ensure population sustainability. 

The National Fur Harvest Database now includes information from the 2012-2013 trapping season. To view the database and to learn more about AFWA’s work in conserving furbearer species, use this link

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recently Released... Taking Action: A Progress Report of the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

In partnership with state agencies and federal partners, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies released a progress report describing actions taken that collectively address impacts and future threats to fish, wildlife, and plants from climate change. The report follows up on the publication in March 2013 of the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy.

Fish, wildlife, and plant resources provide important benefits and services to Americans every day, including jobs, income, food, clean water and air, building materials, storm protection, tourism and recreation. For example, hunting, fishing and other wildlife-related recreation contribute an estimated $120 billion to the nation’s economy every year. 

The progress report, entitled “Taking Action,” uses 50 examples of ongoing and completed conservation projects to demonstrate the tangible steps that federal, state and tribal natural resource agencies are taking to safeguard fish, wildlife and plants in a changing climate. Across the country, the agencies responsible for managing fish, wildlife and plants are working with partners and stakeholders to take concrete steps to collectively address the impacts and future threats of climate change.

The cases described in the report cover a diverse array of geographies and approaches for taking action for wildlife, from mapping out central Appalachia’s most resilient forests and streams to collecting data on Alaska’s changing coast to help communities make conservation management decisions. Other examples include:

  • Using conservation easements and other tools to protect more than 250,000 acres from White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire to Moosehead Lake in Maine, providing a connective corridor of contiguous, climate-resilient habitat
  • Installing engineered log jams and planting native trees to protect remnant spawning habitat for salmon in the Quinault River on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula while also stabilizing streams against erosion.
  • Providing online training for natural resource managers and conservation professionals across the nation on the fundamentals of climate science and tools for climate adaptation. 

“The state perspective has been integral to shaping the Taking Action progress report. The report builds on and documents many of the partnership efforts underway to move climate adaptation from planning to action across the country” said Kevin Hunting, Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “While the report lays out priority actions being taken now, there is still much more to be done to comprehensively address wildlife and fisheries adaptation to a rapidly changing climate.”

The examples highlighted in this report are not a comprehensive accounting of what has been accomplished, but rather illustrate the diversity of projects, scales of planning, and partnerships that can and are being be utilized across the natural resource management sector to respond to the impacts of climate change. These challenges include changing species distributions and migration patterns, the spread of wildlife diseases and invasive species, the inundation of coastal habitats with rising sea levels, changing productivity of our coastal oceans, and changes in freshwater availability.

Development of the original strategy was guided by an innovative partnership of federal, state and tribal fish and wildlife conservation agencies in response to a 2010 call by the U.S. Congress for a national, government-wide climate adaptation strategy to assist fish, wildlife, and plants. The strategy’s implementation is coordinated through the Joint Implementation Working Group, which is co-led by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (representing state fish and wildlife agencies).

The Joint Implementation Working Group, which includes representatives from 15 federal agencies, five state fish and wildlife agencies and one inter-tribal commission, oversaw development of the “Taking Action” Progress Report with support from the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. 

The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy and the “Taking Action” Progress Report can be found on the web at

Monday, November 10, 2014

AFWA Releases Concept Paper on "Applying the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation to Herpetofauna"

State fish and wildlife agencies are charged with managing all wildlife including amphibians and reptiles and the habitats on which they depend, and in recent years, this responsibility has grown.

Native amphibians and reptiles (i.e., herpetofauna) have long been used in unique ways relative to other vertebrates in the public trust—for research, education, food consumption, skins and live uses such as pets, bait, hobbyist collection, captive breeding and photography. However, many of these uses are not closely tracked, and thus, sustainability of such harvest may not be known.

Given that the global human population is still growing, and in combination with continued habitat loss and fragmentation and the emerging threats of disease and climate change, state, provincial and territorial fish and wildlife agencies need more tools to ensure the sustainability of herpetofaunal species and communities. One such tool already exists in the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies' Amphibian and Reptile Subcommittee produced a concept paper, Applying the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation to Herpetofauna, which provides guidance using the framework of the Model to ensure sustainable use of these resources. Following review by seven AFWA committees, the paper was advanced to AFWA’s Business Meeting and unanimously approved in September 2014.

Spadefoot toad photo courtesy of George Andrejko, Arizona Game and Fish Department