Wildlife Governance Training is Underway

Wildlife Governance Training is Underway

The Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) held the first of four planned training sessions to help state wildlife agencies align programs and practices with Wildlife Governance Principles based on public trust thinking and good governance norms. Increasing alignment with the principles is expected to make state agencies more effective and relevant to our changing society, one of the key recommendations of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (AFWA) Blue Ribbon Panel on the Future of Fish and Wildlife.

Wildlife Governance Training Session in Estes Park, CO

The AFWA Blue Ribbon Panel recommended state fish and wildlife agencies identify ways to increase their relevancy to America’s changing society. One way to accomplish that is for agencies to ensure they are fulfilling their public trust responsibilities for all species and all citizens in ways that are consistent with modern expectations for good governance. Fortunately, Wildlife Governance Principles, developed through a collaborative process led by Dr. Dan Decker of Cornell University with participation from wildlife conservation practitioners from agencies, NGOs, and academia provide a concise framework state agencies can use to do just that.

In 2016, with support from an AFWA Multi-state Conservation Grant to WMI, a team consisting of Dr. Decker, WMI Western Field Representative Chris Smith, Ann Forstchen from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Dr. Pat Lederle from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Mike Schiavone from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and Meghan Baumer from Cornell developed an Agency Self-Assessment tool as one means of helping states understand and apply the principles. The team pilot-tested the tool and conducted workshops with state agencies in Florida, Michigan, Montana, and New York exploring ways to improve alignment with the principles. Based on the success of those efforts, WMI applied for and was awarded another Multi-state Conservation Grant in 2017 to hold training sessions in each of the four AFWA regions to familiarize agencies with the principles, the self-assessment tool, and other ways to improve alignment with the principles.

The first session was held in Estes Park, CO from May 22 – 24. Instructors from WMI, Cornell University, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation led participants from five western states – Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming – through two days of learning about the public trust doctrine and broader public trust thinking, good governance, and ways to assess and improve agency alignment with the Wildlife Governance Principles. The training covered the need for and origin of the Wildlife Governance Principles, development and administration of the Agency Self-Assessment tool, how to interpret and apply the results of the self-assessment, and other ways to increase alignment of programs and practices with the principles.

Through several days of stimulating discussion, participants shared their thoughts on how the principles could help address the challenges they face in their state. While one state was ready to apply the self-assessment, others identified the need to take initial steps to increase awareness of the principles and how they apply to their agency’s work before committing to the in-depth analysis provided by the tool. Each of the participants expressed enthusiasm about using the principles to help guide adaptation of their agency. The participants expressed appreciation for the stimulating discussions and identified concrete ways to begin applying the principles in their agencies. A Multistate Conservation Grant awarded to WMI will support additional sessions in the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast over the coming months. Additional information about the training is available on the Public Trust Practice website.

The next training session will be held in Potosi, MO in late August and targets states in the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Sessions for the Northeast and Southeast states are being planned for early in 2018, but dates and locations have not been finalized yet. Additional information about the training and upcoming sessions is available on the Public Trust Practice website.

Photo Credit
Ann Forstchen, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
June 14, 2017