Leadership

The government is us; we are the government, you and I. -Theodore Roosevelt

American Wildlife Conservation Partners

In August of 2000 the Club was instrumental in organizing an historical conservation summit that has already proven to have a profound effect on the future of wildlife. This landmark meeting resulted in the foundation of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP)—a coalition of 35 wildlife organizations representing more than 4.5 million hunter-conservationists. The AWCP was formed for the purpose of building unity, identifying key wildlife issues, and developing a vision for wildlife in the 21st century and beyond.

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Participants from the first meeting of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners held in August 2000 at Boone and Crockett Club's National Headquarters in Missoula, Montana.

Following is a brief history of how the AWCP came to be—adapted from an article by Rollin D. Sparrowe (then president of the Wildlife Management Institute) that appeared in the Winter 2000 issue of Fair Chase

A Magic Moment: Building Unity of Purpose for Wildlife Conservation 

In the heat and smoke of a major fire season in August 2000, 35 wildlife organizations representing 4.3 million hunter-conservationists gathered in Missoula at the American Wildlife Conservation Partners Summit (AWCPS) as guests of the Boone and Crockett Club—and its president Daniel A. Pedrotti—for a meeting about the future of wildlife in America. At Club headquarters over two days of meetings, representatives of this diverse group worked hard to answer four focus questions:

  1. Should our organizations build unity and increase collective effectiveness; if so, what are some of the specific ways to do it?
  2. Should our organizations develop a vision for wildlife; if so, what should it contain?
  3. Should our organizations collectively address some key issues; if so, what is the "short list" of issues and how should resolution be accomplished?
  4. Should our organizations develop a wild­life conservation agenda for the next Administration and Congress; if so, what should it contain?

During the meeting, the nearly 60 participants said yes to the four questions and made significant progress in putting together the who, what, why, and how.

WHY THE SUMMIT WAS HELD: CHANGE IS A DRIVING FORCE

Our hunting traditions are being pulled in multiple directions by diverse factors. including demographic change, urbanization, broad concepts like ecosystem management and biological diversity, mass turnover in professional staffs of stale and federal wildlife agencies, the smaller segment of our population that hunts or fishes, anti­management philosophies and values, and the crowded, fast paced lives of everyday Americans. It should not come as a surprise to realize that, in spite of great successes in restoration of wildlife over the past 100 years, the changing structure of our society makes it necessary for wildlife managers and hunter-conservationists to work together more effectively to build on the successes achieved in the past. Further, the decade of 1995-2005 is recognized as critical for wildlife as the die is being cast for its future. Against this backdrop of challenge, hunter-conservationists are arrayed in literally hundreds of organizations potentially diluting their effectiveness. The AWCPS was simply a gathering of wildlife leaders to unify their collective strength and apply it lo common challenges and opportunities to protect wildlife, habitat, hunting, and the way of life it represents.

The early successes of Boone and Crockett Club members and the citizen­sportsmen of the turn-of-the-century offer insight into the value of unity. Back then, wildlife was visibly depleted and their habitats—like pine forests in the Northeast—had been cut and burned. There was a common need to protect wildlife and restore lost habitat. Again in the 1930s, drought and low waterfowl numbers presented a rallying point for hunters and other conservationists to take action. In each case, people interested in wildlife could see some uncomplicated, visible threats they could combat directly. 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. It also shows the imperative of the August Summit.

HOW TO WORK TOGETHER

A collaborative, facilitated approach was used to break AWCPS participants into groups and discuss each of the four focus questions, then reconvene to find areas of common resolve. Spread over more than two days, these interactions allowed the diverse participants to get to know each other, learn more about the organizations they represented, locus on how successful coalitions and alliances have functioned. and identify concrete ways in which collective action might raise effective­ness in working toward common goals. In addition, the partners began a dialogue about common issues facing the future of wildlife and wildlife habitat. the agency structure that supports them, and the wide array of issues facing America's hunter-conservationists. Big ticket items included loss of habitat, access lo both public and private lands, needs of private landowners, effects of declining and threatened species on wildlife programs and public attitudes, the future of hunting, and the changing world in which we live.

ACTION: WHAT'S NEXT

Responses from participants in the Summit have been highly positive, such as "exceeded my expectations," "there was magic in the air," "our organization is ready to network." Of course, the question of "who will do the work?" has been asked as well. It is a good question. First, the Boone and Crockett Club will continue as convener and catalyst for bringing this diverse array of organizations together. The AWCP unanimously voted to meet face-to-face at least once a year.

Most importantly, participants agreed that building trust and respect among partner groups, focusing on common issues, and recognizing the unique character of each organization is something they want to do. We have commitment in ways that didn't exist before the Summit.

Boone and Crockett Club President Daniel Pedrotti, Consulting Administrator Steve Mealey, the staff and facilitators, the Club itself, and the Steering Committee for the Summit, all deserve thanks for making the AWCPS happen. The Boone and Crockett Club role as catalyst and convener is clear. Now all the rest of us need to do is perform on the issues for wildlife and public access to it! The time is right for wildlife management advocates to be a larger voice in how government and the Congress deal with wildlife and public access to it in America. And I submit that now after the Summit, we are ready as never before!


Since that initial meeting of the partners in 2000, the AWCP has meet several times annually and published four volumes of Wildlife for the 21st Century, all of which were presented the new and returning Administrations.

Volume 5 is complete and awaiting the results of the 2016 election. Click here to read more about our current efforts.

 

 

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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt