The Association leverages every $1 contributed by states with an additional $4 attained from other sources to promote our collective mission.
The return on investment exceeds 100-fold for each state in terms of the hundreds of millions of federal conservation dollars safeguarded by the Association that are provided to state fish and wildlife agencies annually.
Securing Conservation Funding
The American system of conservation funding through federal excise taxes and license sales has been the successful model for many years. However, as state agencies face ever-shifting natural, financial, political and social environments, it is clear that the Association’s work to capture funding from the full array of public beneficiaries is imperative.
Farm Bill: The Farm Bill delivers more benefits to the conservation of fish, wildlife and their habitats than any other federal program. Leading up to the bill’s 2008 reauthorization, the Association actively engaged with Members of Congress and as a result, total spending on conservation programs increased by approximately $4 billion to authorize approximately $7.9 billion through 2012.
In addition, the Association assists with the annual delivery of millions of Farm Bill conservation title dollars and interacts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure conservation program rules fairly address the concerns and priorities of state agencies.
Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Funds: The Association provides leadership for the management of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Funds—monies resulting from excise taxes and import duties on sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, sportfishing equipment, electric outboard motors, and fuel taxes attributable to motorboats and small engines.
In 2009 alone, approximately $740 million will be apportioned to state fish and wildlife agencies to fund conservation, boater access and hunter and aquatic education. Since 1937, in total, states have received approximately $12 billion in funding.
State Wildlife Grants: The 6,000-member, Association-led Teaming With Wildlife Coalition advocates for increased federal funds through the State Wildlife Grants Program to implement State Wildlife Action Plans aimed at preventing wildlife from becoming endangered in every state.
In 2008, the grants program received $74 million to disburse to states including nearly $4 million for a new competitive grants initiative. Since 2001, states have been allocated more than $485 million in grants. Currently, the Coalition is pursuing passage of the Teaming With Wildlife Act, which would secure $350 million in dedicated funding from 2012-2016.
Climate Change: For the past four years, the Association has been a leader in the charge to secure dedicated funding for state and federal agency natural resources adaptation programs to remediate the effects of climate change on fish and wildlife and their habitats. The cap-and-trade legislation being considered by Congress and supported by the Association could provide states with billions of dollars in secure, long-term funding that would not be subject to appropriations. The Association also creates many opportunities for states to communicate and coordinate their efforts on a national scale to manage for climate change impacts on natural resources.
Multistate Conservation Grant Program: With the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Association co-administers this grant program, which has directed more than $56 million to 152 national and regional priority projects of state agencies since 2000.
National Fish Habitat Action Plan: The mission of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan is to protect, restore and enhance fish and aquatic communities through partnerships. Since 2006, the USFWS has provided $5.8 million to support 136 on-the-ground projects, leveraging $15.1 million in partner match funds. Action Plan partners and supporters are working to secure passage of the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, which would allocate funds to improve fisheries resources.
States have played a leadership role in the Plan since the very beginning and the Association actively supports the National Fish Habitat Board on all fronts -- from project selection, partnership endorsement and legislation advocacy to education and outreach, the establishment of a science foundation and grant management.
Protecting Conservation Authority
The Association provides a direct, two-way link from the ground to the top levels of government to vigilantly protect the states’ authority in managing fish and wildlife and to promote states’ interests in laws, regulations, court proceedings and policies, especially when attempts by the legislative, executive and/or judicial branches arises to abrograte or reduce that authority.
Congressional Legislation: When 50 state agencies stand behind an issue, Congress and the Administration notice. The Association has been either the leader or a key player in every fish and wildlife, natural resources or environmental legislation before Congress over the last 40 years.
State representatives routinely testify and provide comments on legislation; meet face-to-face with policy-makers; manage Congressional sign-on letters; host fly-in Hill advocacy days; and participate on coalitions supporting or opposing legislation affecting fish and wildlife conservation. To support state outreach, Association staff monitors issues and ensures discussions and decisions on the Hill include the states’ interests.
Federal Agency Coordination: The Association affirms state conservation authority and management in federal statutes and regulations and serves as a liaison between state and federal agencies, especially the USFWS. Members participate on advisory committees and provide formal comments in response to Federal Register notices.
International Representation: The Association advocates for members in international assemblies to protect states from decisions abroad that could impact wildlife management at home. Agency representatives are engaged in the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) and serve on the U.S. delegation to the World Conference of the Ramsar Parties for wetlands conservation and U.S./Canada/Mexico Trilateral Conference for migratory birds.
Legal Analysis and Counsel: In-kind legal services are available to state agencies through the Association’s in-house Counsel including monitoring litigation; providing recommendations such as analysis surrounding the Public Trust Doctrine; assisting state agency counsel on statewide or national conservation issues; non-profit governance issues such as trademark and copyright registration; and federal court intervention if needed.
Coordinating Cross-cutting Conservation Issues
The Association’s 70+ committees, subcommittees and working groups composed of more than 1,000 fish and wildlife experts are the vital source of the collective views of the Association and the engine driving the future of natural resource conservation. Often, through grants, the Association funds travel costs for state agency personnel to attend meetings and workshops.
Emerging Issues: By conducting research and producing reports, white papers, best practices and position statements, Association committees are tackling today’s pressing issues including climate change, fish and wildlife diseases, invasive species, wind energy development and strategic landscape-level management.
Species-based Conservation: Committees support professional fish and wildlife management especially concerning the conservation of birds, amphibians and reptiles, and furbearer and fisheries resources as well as coordinating the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, State Wildlife Action Plans, Southern Wings and the states’ involvement in the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative and the American Wind Wildlife Institute.
Annual Meeting: The Association holds an Annual Meeting to bring agency directors and committees together to discuss issues and policies as well as advance positions and resolutions for full membership adoption. The Association also presents its prestigious Annual Awards honoring leaders in conservation stewardship.
Connecting More Americans with Conservation
With the profound affect of human populations on fish and wildlife and their habitats, Americans of all ages need to better understand and take responsibility for the health of the natural world around them.
Conservation Education: Designed by state agency experts, the North American Conservation Education (CE) Strategy delivers unified, research-based core concepts and messages about fish and wildlife conservation, translated into K-12 environmental academic standards. The Association is also an advocate for the recently introduced No Child Left Inside legislation, which, if passed, would authorize $100 million over five years. States would be eligible to receive grants.
Industry/Agency Partnership: State agency directors are actively involved with the archery, hunting, shooting sports, boating and sportfishing industries to support the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Through a partnership coalition, the group is identifying opportunities to increase hunter/angler recruitment and retention.
Fostering the Next Generation of Leaders
The Association is committed to engaging not just today’s leaders; but also nurturing the conservation champions of generations to come.
Management Assistance Team (MAT): The Association’s Management Assistance Team provides a variety of services focused on the human rather than the biological side of state fish and wildlife agencies. From on-site consulting and training to face-to-face workshops, highly interactive online courses and conservation leadership certification, MAT gives state agencies greater options for promoting employee leadership development. All MAT consulting and training services and products are offered at no or very low cost.
National Conservation Leadership Institute (NCLI): To help foster tomorrow’s conservation champions, MAT directs the National Conservation Leadership Institute, a leadership development program valued at $550,000+ for approximately 36 Fellows each year who have been nominated by state agency directors, NGOs and industry CEOs. While training of this caliber would typically cost upwards to $24,000 per person, MAT secures sponsors to keep tuition at $3,750, subsidizing nearly $12,000 per state agency participant for the seven-month program.
Collaborating through Committees
Members are encouraged to actively participate on one or more of AFWA’s 70+ committees, subcommittees and working groups. State fish and wildlife agencies receive two votes per state on committee actions, all other types of members receive one vote per organization.
At the Association’s twice-yearly Business Meeting, only state and federal agencies may cast one vote per agency on AFWA action items.