Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebecca Humphries–Chief Conservation Officer, National Wild Turkey Federation  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bob Ziehmer–Director, Missouri Department of Conservation 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

You're invited to the 6th Annual Young Guns Happy Hour at AFWA's 2014 Annual Meeting

If you're joining us at AFWA's 2014 Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO - come on out for our 6th Annual Young Guns AFWA Happy Hour! We'll be in the Brewhouse pub in the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch starting at 6pm. We hope to see you there and kick off the meeting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

AFWA Welcomes Greg Moore as Professional Development Programs Manager

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV – The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) is pleased to announce that Greg Moore, formerly of Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, will be joining AFWA's Management Assistance Team and the National Conservation Leadership Institute as the Professional Development Programs Manager.

Moore's passion for preserving our fish and wildlife heritage is evident in his life-long career in wildlife management. He holds a Master's in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Delaware, and recently retired as the Wildlife Section Administrator from Delaware’s DNR after 40 years of service.

In pursuit of his second passion--leadership ideology--Moore has also worked closely with the Management Assistance Team on numerous projects, including course development and delivery. He has been a part of MAT’s National Faculty for four years and most recently served as MAT’s part-time Contract Coordinator.

Moore also has been actively involved in the National Conservation Leadership Institute since graduating from the program in 2012 as an alumnus of Cohort 6. He returned as a peer coach for Cohorts 7 and 8, where he provided guidance, support and structured feedback to incoming Fellows as they completed the program.

“I am truly delighted to welcome Greg to AFWA, NCLI and the MAT family,” said Gina Main, Director of Professional Development for AFWA's MAT and NCLI Executive Director. “Greg fully embodies the dedication, passion and deep commitment to serving and empowering the stewards in fish and wildlife who help preserve our natural resources legacy. Greg will be a tremendous asset to the team, the people we serve, and the work we do.”

In describing his involvement with leadership development, Greg identified his motivation as a “keen interest in how to make organizations more resilient and effective in resolving difficult problems.”

“I am excited about this opportunity to work for MAT and to serve the conservation community,” said Moore. “Having been associated with MAT on several projects as a state agency employee, I know the caliber and importance of the leadership training they provide and I hope to be able to contribute to the legacy established by the staff. As a fellow of NCLI, I am also looking forward to promoting this program and the value it brings to conservation agencies.”

Moore begins his tenure at AFWA on September 17, 2014.

To learn more about AFWA’s Management Assistance Team, visit: www.matteam.org

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

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Joins 23 Conservation Organizations to Release the 2014 State of the Birds Report

228 Bird Species Land on the State of the Birds Watch List

One hundred years after the extinction of the passenger pigeon, the nation’s top bird science and conservation groups have come together to publish State of the Birds 2014—the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S. birds ever conducted. The results are mixed. The report finds bird populations declining across several key habitats, and includes a “watch list” of 228 bird species in need of immediate conservation help.

The report also reveals, however, that in areas where a strong conservation investment has been made—wetland birds, for example—bird populations are recovering.

Key Findings from the Report:

Birds in aridland habitat show the steepest population declines in the nation. There has been a 46 percent loss in the population of these birds since 1968. Habitat loss, hydrological alteration, overgrazing and conversion to agriculture are the largest threats. 

The nation’s grasslands have seen a decline in breeding birds, like the eastern meadowlark and the bobolink, of nearly 40 percent since 1968. That decline, however, appears to have leveled off since 1990—a result, the authors say, of the significant investments made in grassland bird conservation. 

Introduced species have had a particularly strong impact on native island birds. In Hawaii, introduced animals such as mongoose, rats, domestic cats, pigs and goats have taken a huge toll on native species. One third of all of America’s federally endangered birds are Hawaiian species. 

There are some encouraging signs for many species in grasslands, wetlands and several other key habitats that have benefited from targeted conservation efforts. In general, development is squeezing shorebirds and their habitat along the coasts. However, among the 49 coastal species examined, there has been a steady rise in populations of 28 percent since 1968. This may be a reflection of the establishment of 160 national coastal wildlife refuges and nearly 600,000 acres of national seashore in 10 states.

The creation and preservation of large swaths of forests through public-private partnerships in the Appalachian Mountains and the Northwest is believed to have helped declining forest-dependent species such as the golden-winged warbler and the oak titmouse. Efforts like this are essential, as forest-dependent birds have declined nearly 20 percent in the western U.S. and 32 percent in the east since 1968.

State of the Birds Watch List
The State of the Birds Watch List contains the 230 species most in need of conservation action. Without conservation action, these are the birds headed the way of the Passenger Pigeon and other now-extinct American birds, such as the Carolina Parakeet and Heath Hen. Watch List birds meet criteria for a combination of high rate of population decline, small population size, small geographic range, and significant future threats to sustainable populations.

The Watch List contains species already on the federal Endangered list as well as those at risk of becoming Threatened or Endangered. While the Endangered Species Act remains the primary line of defense against extinction, proactive conservation is the most effective way to keep other Watch List species from needing Endangered list protection. Most Watch List species fall into seven categories; addressing issues across landscapes and migratory ranges can efficiently conserve entire suites of at-risk species.

Secretary Jewell, Director Ashe Announce $35 Million in Grants to Boost State Endangered Species Conservation Efforts

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced nearly $35 million in grants to 20 states to enable collaborative efforts to conserve many of America’s imperiled species, ranging from the red cockaded woodpecker in the Southeast to a variety of bat species in the Midwest to a colorful flower in the Rocky Mountains.  A list of the projects by state is available here.

“Partnerships are critical to ensuring future generations will be able to see threatened and endangered species in the wild rather than simply in a history book,” Jewell said. “These grants will enable states to work in voluntary partnership with private landowners and a wide variety of other stakeholders to preserve vital habitat and move these species down the road to recovery.” 

Issued through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act), the competitive grants allow states to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other government agencies to initiate conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat that benefits threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants.

“Private landowners and natural resource managers are the linchpin for the conservation of many of our most threatened species,” Ashe said. “By fostering partnerships between federal, state and local governments, private organizations, and individuals, we can pool our resources to develop creative solutions that will drive critical conservation and recovery efforts. These grants are one of many tools available under the Endangered Species Act and we look forward to providing continued guidance and support for these programs.”

The grant funding is provided through programs established to help advance creative partnerships for the recovery of imperiled species. This year, the fund will allocate approximately $7.4 million in grants through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program; nearly $18 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, and $9.5 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program. 

“We can wait for fish and wildlife species to decline to the point where we can’t do anything but react with expensive, last-ditch efforts, or we can take proactive steps to conserve wildlife and their habitats before it is too late,” said Dan Forster, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division. “These grants will enable state fish and wildlife agencies to carry out important on-the-ground conservation actions with our partners to advance the stewardship of our nation’s fish and wildlife resources.”

A complete list of the 2014 grant awards under these programs (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 15.615) is available online at: www.fws.gov/endangered/grants/index.html.

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are agreements between a landowner and the Service that allow a landowner to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property, even if they may impact listed species. In return, the landowner agrees to conservation measures designed to avoid, minimize and mitigate the impact of those actions. HCPs may also be developed by a county or state to cover certain activities of all landowners within their jurisdiction and may address multiple species.

Under the HCP Land Acquisition Grants Program, the Service provides grants to states or territories for land acquisitions that complement the conservation objectives of approved HCPs.

For example, the state of North Carolina will receive nearly $1.1 million to support the acquisition of up to 1,761 acres of longleaf pine habitat in the Sandhills region of the state used by red-cockaded woodpeckers. Acquisition, restoration, and protection of this property will promote connectivity among woodpecker groups to expand managed areas in and around the Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall woodpecker populations, and throughout the North Carolina Sandhills.

The HCP Planning Assistance Grants Program provides grants to states and territories to support the development of HCPs through funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach and similar planning activities. 

For example, The Departments of Natural Resources in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin will use a $750,000 grant to develop an HCP for several species of cave-dwelling bats including the endangered Indiana bat, northern long-eared bat, and proposed little brown bat and tri-colored bats.  The plan will focus on forest management on state, county and private lands and will result in a better understanding of species distribution and summer habitat use by cave-dwelling bats, species currently severely threatened by white-nose syndrome. 

The Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program provides funds to states and territories to acquire habitat for endangered and threatened species with approved recovery plans. Habitat acquisition to secure long term protection is often an essential element of a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species.

One of this year’s grants will provide $494,137 to enable the state of Colorado to acquire up to 83 acres in Archuleta County to protect the endangered Pagosa skyrocket from planned development. This acquisition is key to the survival and recovery of this locally-endemic plant species because it will protect up to 90 percent of the largest and most important remaining populations of the species, as well as designated critical habitat.

The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife, and plants. The Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, visit www.fws.gov/endangered.