WMI’s Scot Williamson Receives NEAFWA Robert McDowell Award

WMI’s Scot Williamson Receives NEAFWA Robert McDowell Award

Scot Williamson of the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) was honored with the 2022 Robert McDowell Award at the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA) annual meeting in Long Branch, New Jersey. Scot is a well-known presence in northeastern conservation issues and across the country.

This award was established by the NEAFWA Directors to honor career professionals who have made significant contributions to advance fish and wildlife conservation in the northeastern United States and eastern Canadian Provinces. Robert McDowell, the Award’s namesake, was the first recipient of this award.

This award is the highest honor presented by NEAFWA, and is given to an individual who meets the following criteria:

  • Has a long-term commitment to fish and wildlife resources and the stewardship of those resources
  • Has made outstanding achievements on behalf of those resources as well as in the field of fish and wildlife management
  • Has fostered a vision for the future preservation, conservation, and use of those resources and an ability to affect change toward that vision
  • Who nurtures and supports future generations of natural resource managers through innovative information, education, and outreach, and
  • Who has an affiliation of some type with the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

The Northeastern Association is proud of their regionally focused conservation accomplishments and has a long history of collaboration among state and provincial agencies, federal agencies, academic institutions, and the nongovernmental sector. With today’s complex fish and wildlife management challenges, we simply cannot accomplish as much working alone as we can working together. This is a hallmark of the conservation work in the Northeast, and it takes someone like Scot to pull together the numerous administrative requirements of large, multi-agency and multi-year efforts to make the work happen.

Fifteen years ago, the Northeast Directors started a program called “Regional Conservation Needs” (RCN), which uses a small percentage of State Wildlife Grants funding available to each state to fund regional projects to benefit species of greatest conservation need. During the ensuing 15 years, the states, working with partners, have funded dozens of important conservation initiatives to benefit species in need. But this work doesn’t happen all by itself. It requires tremendous coordination and administrative support—Scot has been central to the success of the RCN program.

From 2006 to 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considered the New England cottontail a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. In 2015, the Service removed the New England cottontail as a candidate species, once they confirmed that sufficient conservation actions were underway by the states to conserve their habitat and their populations. Scot was on the ground floor of this effort from the start, consistently helping with important administrative details and serving as a key facilitator. Today, in part because of his efforts, the New England cottontail’s future is much brighter.

Scot has also been a key leader and proponent of state and federal land management practices to create a balanced landscape with young forests in the Northeast. That work includes key support to state fish and wildlife agencies in facilitating the hiring of habitat management specialists to implement management actions on the ground. Young forest habitats are crucial to many bird species, including whippoorwills and American woodcock, along with many invertebrates forming the basis for the food chain. The interagency American woodcock management plan came together largely because of Scot’s tireless efforts on behalf of wildlife.

The consummate problem solver, Scot is as levelheaded and as cool as they come. In our complicated management environment, Scot’s calm and steady attitude is deeply appreciated. Respected for his professionalism, dignity, and skill, Scot is central to the success of the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies as they work together to implement regional projects. As one conference attendee noted, “Scot is the scotch tape that keeps NEAFWA glued together.” Congratulations Scot!

April 15, 2022