The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America's
Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources

For nearly a half-century, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and many of its partners have been working to secure dedicated and sustained funding to proactively conserve the full array of fish and wildlife. In 1975, the Wildlife Management Institute published a report that called on the U.S. Congress to provide funding through an excise tax on outdoor recreation equipment for the conservation of 'nongame' fish and wildlife. In 1980, the U.S. Congress passed the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act  (PL 96-366) which authorized up to $5 million for state, territorial and District of Columbia for the development and implementation of plans and programs for nongame fish and wildlife conservation.  Funding for the Act was never appropriated. In the early 1990s, AFWA started the Fish and Wildlife Diversity Funding Initiative to raise awareness of the wildlife funding crisis. Shortly thereafter, the Teaming With Wildlife coalition was started which eventually grew to over 6,500 organizations and businesses that pledged their support for dedicated funding for fish and wildlife conservation, education, and wildlife-dependent recreation. In the late 1990s, the Teaming With Wildlife coalition joined forces with other groups to support the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) which included $350 million in annual dedicated funding for wildlife conservation, education, wildlife recreation. In 2000, CARA passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 315-102 margin but did not advance in the U.S. Senate despite the support of 62 bi-partisan Senators. Later that year, Congress created the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program as a temporary means to support the development and implementation of State Wildlife Action Plans aimed at conserving rare and declining fish and wildlife. By 2005, each state, territory, and the District of Columbia had developed a plan which identified over 12,000 species of greatest conservation need, their key habitats, threats, and conservation actions. Funding available through the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program was a fraction of what was needed to implement the plans. In 2008, the Teaming With Wildlife Act, which called for $350 million in funding, was introduced in the U.S. Senate but did not advance. In 2015, AFWA leadership decided a new approach was needed.

In 2015, AFWA stood up the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America's Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources. The Panel was co-chaired by John Morris, Founder and CEO of BassPro Shops, and David Freudenthal, a two-term former governor from Wyoming. The panel included 26 members from conservation, business, outdoor recreation and academia. Their purpose was to examine funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants programtical guide that state and provincial fish and wildlife conservation agencies can use to overcome barriers to broader relevance, public engagement and support.   Learn more!

The Blue Ribbon Panel will reimagine a 21st century model of funding conservation that bridges the funding gap between game and nongame species.

Under the leadership of the co-chairs--Bass Pro Shops founder John L. Morris and former Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal--the Blue Ribbon Panelists represent the outdoor recreation retail and manufacturing sector, the energy industry, conservation organizations and sportsmen’s groups.

The Panelists will work together over the course of a year to produce recommendations and Congressional policy options on the most sustainable and equitable model to fund conservation of the full array of fish and wildlife species. 

Download FAQ

Download Report #1 (Short Report): Recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining Fish & Wildlife Resources

Download Report #2 (Long Report): Recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining Fish & Wildlife Resources

Check out the Video of the Press Conference releasing the recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining Fish & Wildlife Resources

Download a brochure about the Blue Ribbon Panel

The Blue Ribbon Panelists 

[updated 2/19/16]

Dave Freudenthal--Blue Ribbon Panel co-chair, former Governor of Wyoming
Johnny Morris--Blue Ribbon Panel co-chair, Founder and CEO, Bass Pro Shops
Kevin Butt--General Manager and Chief Environmental Officer, Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc. and Board Member, Wildlife Habitat Council
Richard Childress--CEO and Chairman, Richard Childress Racing Enterprises
Jeff Crane--President, Congressional Sportsman's Foundation
Bruce Culpepper--Executive Vice President, Human Resources & Regional Coordination, Shell Americas
John Doerr--President and CEO, Pure Fishing, Inc. and Board Member, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation
Jim Faulstich--Owner, Daybreak Ranch and Vice Chairman, Partners for Conservation
John Fitzpatrick--Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Co-inventor, eBird
Greg Hill--President and CEO of Exploration and Production, Hess Corporation
Rebecca Humphries--Chief Conservation Officer, National Wild Turkey Federation
Dr. Stephen Kellert--Professor Emeritus of Social Ecology and Senior Research Scholar, Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Board Member, Bio-Logical Capital; Founding Partner, Environmental Capital Partners
Jennifer Mull--Chief Executive Officer, Backwoods Equipment, Inc. and Board Chair of the Outdoor Industry Association
John W. Newman--CFO and Treasurer, LLOG Exploration Company, LLC and Board Chairman, Ducks Unlimited
Michael Nussman--President and CEO, American Sportfishing Association
Margaret O’Gorman--President, Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) and Board Member, Stewardship Action Council
Glenn Olson--Donal O’Brien Chair in Bird Conservation and Public Policy, National Audubon Society (NAS) and Member, North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Advisory Council 
Collin O’Mara--President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation
Connie S. Parker--CEO and Founder, CSPARKERGROUP and Board Member, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Wildlife Foundation of Florida
Charlie Potter--CEO, Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation and Founder and Chairman, Great Outdoors, LLC
Steve Sanetti--CEO, National Shooting Sports Foundation
John Tomke--President, Ducks Unlimited de Mexico and Chair, Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council
Jeff Trandahl--CEO, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
Dr. James Walker--Vice Chairman of the Board, EDF Renewable Energy and Board Member, American Wind Energy Association
Dr. Steve Williams--President, Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) and Board President, National Conservation Leadership Institute; Board Member, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Bob Ziehmer--Director, Missouri Department of Conservation 
Michael Bean-- Ex Officio Member, Principal Deputy Asst. Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, US Department Interior
Ronald Regan-- Ex Officio Member, Executive Director, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

Blue Ribbon Panel National 

John L. Morris, Founder and CEO, Bass Pro Shops
Dave Freudenthal, former Wyoming Governor