Published since 1946
Wildlife Partners Release Conservation Recommendations
On July 15, the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP), a consortium of 50 of the nation’s leading hunting conservation organizations, released Wildlife for the 21st Century: Volume VI. The report outlines the groups’ policy recommendations on specific actions that could be taken by the next White House Administration and the next two Congresses to improve wildlife conservation and management. The report is the culmination of more than a year of work by AWCP and represents a general agreement of the partners on conservation issues. It provides a roadmap for decision makers to lead policy changes that will make a meaningful difference for wildlife and habitat management.
“Over the last 20 years, the AWCP Wildlife for the 21st Century report has been an important tool to provide direction to federal policy makers on conservation issues, and this sixth edition continues to serve that purpose,” said Wildlife Management Institute president Steve Williams. “The 10 recommendations included in the report should give the next Administration and Congress specific actions that they can take to continue the wildlife and public lands conservation tradition that this country can rightfully be proud of.”
In August 2000, the Boone and Crockett Club hosted representatives of 35 wildlife organizations representing 4.5 million hunter conservationists at a facilitated meeting at the Club’s headquarters in Missoula, Montana. This was a gathering of wildlife leaders intended to unify their collective strength and apply it to common challenges and opportunities to protect wildlife, habitat, hunting, and the way of life it represents. The goal from the meeting was to identify key wildlife issues, build unity, and develop a vision for wildlife conservation in the 21st century and beyond.
Former president of WMI, Rollin Sparrowe, was a participant in the meeting. Shortly after the summit he wrote a story in the Boone and Crockett Club’s Fair Chase magazine that noted: “Formation of the Forest Reserves and their evolution into the National Forests, development of treaties to conserve migratory birds, passage of the Pittman-Robertson Act, and other movements came to fruition because people of like-minds, with specific objectives, worked together. This history shows that unified efforts do produce gains for conservation of wildlife and their habitats.”
From this meeting came the start of what is now known as the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP). Over the next two decades, the groups have continued to meet at least twice a year to discuss action items to improve conservation policy. Those policy recommendations were developed into five previous editions of Wildlife for the 21st Century that were presented to each presidential campaign since 2000, as well as many letters to policy makers on key issues being debated at the national level. Today, AWCP is made up of 50 organizations that represent the interests of America’s millions of dedicated hunter conservationists, professional wildlife and natural resource managers, outdoor recreation users, conservation educators, and wildlife scientists.
The 10 recommendations made by the AWCP in Wildlife for the 21st Century: Volume VI focus on conservation funding, access and management of federal lands, big game migration corridors, integrating wildlife goals into energy planning, private land and species conservation, wildlife disease management, and habitat conservation in a changing climate. All of the recommendations encourage collaboration and cooperation between federal agencies, state fish and wildlife agencies, and private landowners.
“State and federal agencies must work cooperatively to meet the needs of our wildlife and our communities – this is not a nicety, it’s a necessity,” wrote AWCP steering committee chairs the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Blake Henning (2020 chair) and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Jennifer Mock Schaeffer (2019 chair) in the introduction to the report.
The specific recommendations made by the AWCP in Wildlife for the 21st Century: Volume VI are featured in 10 distinct sections of the report:
- Recommendation 1: Funding for Conservation – Secure permanent and dedicated conservation funding from public and private sources.
- Recommendation 2: Federal Land Access – Enhance access for hunters and outdoor recreationists.
- Recommendation 3: Big Game Migrations – Require collaboration on big game migration corridors and habitats.
- Recommendation 4: Energy Development – Integrate industry, state, and federal wildlife goals early in energy planning.
- Recommendation 5: Private Land Conservation – Incentivize private landowners to conserve wildlife and habitat and provide access for hunting.
- Recommendation 6: Active Management of Federal Lands – Increase active management of federal land habitats and reduce litigation through collaboration.
- Recommendation 7: Species Conservation – Achieve greater results from an improved ESA program.
- Recommendation 8: Big Game Diseases – Support and assist states in addressing Chronic Wasting Disease and wild sheep pneumonia.
- Recommendation 9: Climate Change – Focus climate policy on habitat conservation and restoration.
- Recommendation 10: Hunting Heritage and the Future – Require collaboration for wildlife conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting on federal lands.
Each recommendation also includes detailed descriptions of the issues, action items to address the issues, and whether the issue should be addressed by Congress or a specific agency within the administration. Adoption of the recommendations will improve federal agencies’ stewardship of our nation’s fish, wildlife, and habitats and enhance access to federal lands and waters for outdoor and wildlife-associated recreation, which contribute significantly to the quality of life and economic well-being of current and future generations.