Where Hunting Happens, Conservation Happens™

B&C Fellow - Vaughan Branch

University of Montana - M.S. Student in Wildlife Biology - Projected to Graduate 2022
Project Title: Management Authority on Federal Lands and Effective Collaboration on Habitat Connectivity


I grew up in a small farming community in southern Georgia. As a young man, I spent nearly all of my time outdoors - playing sports, hunting, fishing, and exploring. After earning business and law degrees, I served as a prosecutor for many years and worked for a time in commercial litigation. During my professional career I also helped manage an agency linking the criminal justice and rehabilitation communities and later worked as a policy advocate. I lived and worked in several metropolitan areas before moving with my wife to Missoula to pursue a graduate degree in Wildlife Biology. Joining Dr. Millspaugh’s lab at U Montana has provided the perfect opportunity to combine my professional background and lifelong passion for animals and the outdoors with my desire to positively affect the direction of wildlife conservation policy. In the future, I would love to work with a wildlife agency or organization in a role dedicated to improving stakeholder collaboration and informed conservation governance.

Management Authority on Federal Lands and Effective Collaboration on Habitat Connectivity

In the United States, state and federal wildlife agencies (SWAs & FWAs) serve critical roles in the conservation of wildlife. Additionally, federally-owned land includes some of the most important wildlife habitat for conservation and a great diversity and abundance of animal species. Consequently, gaining a clear understanding of the relative strengths and primary responsibilities of these agencies on federal lands and discovering how they can best coordinate their efforts to connect the mosaic of federal lands with other habitats and populations are topics of great interest to the conservation community. From both a legal and practical perspective, we will investigate whether SWAs or FWAs are the appropriate primary managers of wildlife on federal lands. Informed by this analysis, we will then examine both successful and unsuccessful efforts at coordination to identify best practices for state and federal collaboration on wildlife connectivity. 


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

-Theodore Roosevelt