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Teams Charging Ahead on Relevancy Roadmap
As previously reported in the Outdoor News Bulletin, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and WMI convened a workshop last August to explore the value of developing a “Relevancy Roadmap” for state fish and wildlife agencies. The Relevancy Roadmap will be a practical guide that state and provincial fish and wildlife conservation agencies can use to overcome barriers to broader relevance, public engagement, and support. It will provide multiple pathways to respond to the diverse social, economic, demographic, political, and environmental changes that states and provinces face. Following endorsement of this concept by the state agency directors at their annual meeting in September, five diverse teams with representation from state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, and private industry were formed to construct the roadmap.
The teams are focusing on five thematic areas: agency capacity, agency culture, constituent capacity, constituent culture, and legal/political constraints. The teams are meeting weekly by conference call so they can present their initial list of strategies to overcome the barriers to agency directors at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Denver next March. Between the conference and the AFWA meeting in September, 2019, the teams will develop tactics to implement the strategies and present the final roadmap. Co-chairs of the Blue Ribbon Panel on the Future of America’s Wildlife Relevancy Working group, Tony Wasley, Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife, and Steve Williams, President of the Wildlife Management Institute, are overseeing the effort.
Fish and wildlife agencies depend on public support to fulfill their essential conservation mission. Historically, these agencies have enjoyed the support of hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and boaters for whom these agencies are clearly relevant. Other citizens who also benefit from conservation may be less aware of, or engaged with, state and provincial agencies. To address today’s ever-growing challenges to conservation – from changing uses of fish, wildlife, and their habitats, to pollution of our waters, the spread of invasive species, and loss of habitat – agencies need support from more people.
The Relevancy Roadmap will provide pathways to help fish and wildlife agencies overcome persistent barriers to engaging more citizens in conservation. Increasing the relevancy of fish and wildlife agencies to more citizens has been a topic of discussion at professional meetings, workshops, and in academic papers for several decades. These discussions resulted in the realization that engaging more citizens will improve agencies’ understanding of people’s interests and better prepare agencies to provide programs and services for them. The Relevancy Roadmap will provide practical strategies and tactics agencies can implement to engage with all citizens.