Special Sessions for 85th North American Conference Announced

Special Sessions for 85th North American Conference Announced

The program steering committee for the 85th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference has announced the event’s four special sessions. The conference will be held March 8-13, 2020, at the Hilton Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska. The four special sessions will be held concurrently on Wednesday, March 11 and will directly follow the conference’s opening session that morning. Anyone interested in participating as a presenter at one of the special sessions is welcome to contact the appropriate chair or co-chairs.

Omaha, Nebraska aerial view

SPECIAL SESSION 1 – Toward a More Inclusive and Welcoming Agency Culture: Meeting the Challenge of Increasing Workforce Diversity in Natural Resource Agencies

Davia Palmeri, Conservation Policy Coordinator, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Melanie Steinkamp, Environments/Status & Trends Program Coordinator, U.S. Geological Survey
Judy Camuso, Commissioner, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

The cultural norms and priorities of natural resource management agencies have been shaped by factors and priorities that have not proportionally evolved with the demographics and resource management preferences of the Nation’s culture and vision. Americans, as a culture and population, have shifted in many ways; we have become far more urban, our values related to wildlife have changed, and our preferences for outdoor recreation have expanded. Fish and wildlife are now grappling with these changes while also facing increasingly complex threats created by human population growth, development, infrastructure needs, urbanization, and climate change.

Struggling under the mounting pressures created by these changes, agencies now find themselves facing an uncertain future. The need for the conservation community to be relevant to a broad constituency has never been greater. Greater workforce diversity will be an asset as agencies look for creative ways to manage the threats to wildlife. Recognizing that any conversation about workforce diversity benefits from an intersectional approach, this session will serve as an entry point to the overall challenge of an inclusive, welcoming culture. Presenters will provide an overview of this fundamental problem and discuss multiple efforts, such as the recently adopted Relevancy Roadmap and the National Conservation Leadership Institute’s Cohort 13’s Welcoming Culture Group. Examples will be offered demonstrating how the challenges to a welcoming and inclusive culture are exhibited within agencies. Finally, practical strategies will be offered to begin to shift the paradigm and move toward an inclusive, welcoming culture where diversity in all forms is valued and supported.

SPECIAL SESSION 2 – Conservation Without Conflict: Conserving At-Risk and Listed Species While Keeping Working Lands Working

Jimmy Bullock, Sr. Vice President, Forest Sustainability, Resource Management Service, LLC
Wendi Weber, Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Americans value land for the ecological, social and economic benefits to our communities, the recreational experiences it affords, the well-being it provides our families, the support for our ways of life, and for the wildlife it sustains. Land and wildlife unite us and enhance our quality of life. Our collective desire is to pass these tremendous benefits and our outdoor experiences on to successive generations. Conservation without Conflict is both an approach and a coalition to achieve collaboration. Members have diverse goals and values, but we all come together around common conservation interests and a sense of responsible land stewardship. Our goal is to demonstrate to policy makers, funders, conservation groups, and the public and private sectors that investments in collaborative conservation pay for themselves many times over by conserving wildlife, habitat, and the values we ascribe to it.

In meeting the responsibility to ensure the future of wildlife, federal and state governments often use regulations to protect and manage species. And while regulations have an important role in our history of conserving the abundance and diversity of our nation’s fish and wildlife resources, regulatory action often does not promote collaboration, which is necessary to achieve the level of conservation required to ensure the future of wildlife. Indeed, regulatory inflexibility can create a counterproductive and adversarial tension as landowners try to balance their individual priority needs with public expectations for conserving fish and wildlife.

Working collaboratively toward conservation goals can conserve wildlife species and help support all our shared values and ownership objectives on private lands.

A collaborative approach, along with appropriate and effective incentives that recognize the benefits landowners provide to America’s fish and wildlife, can help landowners keep working lands working. This approach realizes the economic and cultural benefits of working landscapes, allows recreational opportunities, and contributes to the enhancement of important habitats. Collaboration that promotes this essential balance of mutual gain among partners is more successful in providing conservation at the scales needed and will be more sustainable than a relationship relying on regulatory approaches alone or at all. This is the essence of Conservation without Conflict.

Session speakers will include a subset of active members of the coalition (over 38 member organizations total representing federal, state, private, industry, academia, and NGOs) who will share their success stories and lessons learned in applying this approach. Attendees will also have the opportunity to engage with speakers in a panel discussion.

SPECIAL SESSION 3 – Climate Adaptation Approaches: Lessons Learned and How to Move Forward

Cynthia West, Director, Office of Sustainability & Climate, U. S. Forest Service
Jonathan Mawdsley, Senior Science Advisor, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
Marvin Brown, Forest Resource Management Committee, National Association of State Foresters

Climate change vulnerability assessments indicate an urgent need to provide adaptation strategies and tactics to adapt to a changing climate. Over the past few years, federal and state agencies have identified a variety of climate adaptation approaches using different tactics and scales. However, many practitioners have struggled with how to best incorporate climate change projections and what actions to undertake given limited budget and personnel resources and competing priorities.

This session will offer an organizational systems approach to climate adaptation and will highlight several case studies by leading practitioners. Each case study will discuss innovative approaches, share lessons learned, and identify parameters for success in climate adaptation efforts. Session participants will be encouraged to engage with practitioners and one another on challenges across technical disciplines, agency jurisdictions, and land ownership, and participants will increase their knowledge of strategies to implement climate change adaptation tactics in the right place, at the right time, and at the right scale.

SPECIAL SESSION 4 – Advancements in Angler R3: Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation


Lessons for the R3 Community

Stephanie Hussey, State R3 Program Director, Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation
Dave Chanda, Vice President, Government and Industry Engagement, Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation
Ty Gray, Director, Arizona Game and Fish Department

America is changing demographically, attitudinally, and technologically, and the natural resources community is faced with determining how fishing and hunting can stay relevant in this changing society. Without an influx of new anglers and hunters over the next 20 years, license sales can be expected to decrease; more so than they already have.

Attracting new customers is no longer simply about providing abundant and healthy fish and wildlife resources. It will require a commitment of agency resources to attract and engage a new population of anglers and hunters. Without a significant commitment to recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3), state fish and wildlife agencies can expect a serious decline in angler and hunter participation. Building off of previous work in R3 strategy and evaluation (done by the Wildlife Management Institute, the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation), the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA)’s Task Force on Angler R3 provided five recommendations to enable state fish and wildlife agencies to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their R3 efforts. Although the Task Force recognized that there is no “one size fits all” solution for state fish and wildlife agencies, they encouraged state directors to fully integrate R3 initiatives throughout their agencies and implement the recommendations where possible.

Recent research show that there are specific actions that state agencies can make to positively affect license sales and participation rates, even in states with declining participation. By determining which factors drive increases and decreases across states and then identifying those that can be influenced by state R3 efforts, agencies and their partners can improve R3 approaches and strategies resulting in greater license sales and participation.

This session will present recent R3 successes and insights as shared by a number of state fish and wildlife agency leaders. Attendees will be provided with innovative and applicable ideas that can help their organizations increase the effectiveness of their R3 efforts, and ultimately expand and increase the population of those enjoying the fish and wildlife resources of North America.

Photo Credit
Ron Reiring, Flickr
October 15, 2019