The Chicken or the Egg: Broader Support or Broader Significance

Dr. Karl Malcolm
Regional Wildlife Ecologist, Forest Service, Southwestern Regional Office

There is growing consensus among fish and wildlife professionals that the “some users pay model” supporting most state fish and wildlife agencies and associated conservation programs faces uncertain long-term sustainability. In many cases funds dwindle while management challenges become more expensive, varied, and complex, and urbanizing majorities become further disengaged from the natural world.

De-emphasizing agency service to non-paying segments of the public results in missed opportunities to nurture a more broadly knowledgeable citizenry motivated and empowered to invest personally and fiscally in environmental stewardship – the very foundation of continued and expanding success in our nation’s conservation enterprise.

In the absence of alternative sources of revenue there are few remaining options to develop programs aimed at enlisting a broader base of engaged conservationists. This session will explore several emerging and increasingly fundamental questions including, 1) to what extent are license buyers who currently and historically foot the bulk of the bill for state fish and wildlife agencies willing to invest their dollars and share their influence in the interest of enhancing future conservation capacity, 2) what specific steps can be taken to build bridges with and generate support from segments of the public that do not currently pay, and 3) what alliances are necessary to secure progressive alternatives to the “some users pay model?”