NWF News: 2023 Conservation Awards & Policy Resolutions

The latest news from the National Wildlife Federation & affiliates: 2023 National Conservation Achievement Awards; policy resolutions; the Nevada Wildlife Federation

  • By Delaney McPherson
  • Field Work
  • Sep 27, 2023

Honoring Conservation Greats

The National Wildlife Federation bestowed its 2023 National Conservation Achievement Awards June 22 at WildlifeUnite, NWF and affiliates’ annual convention held this year on Lake Tahoe.

Affiliate of the Year: The New Mexico Wildlife Federation (NMWF) has advocated for wildlife, public lands and sportspeople (above) for over a century. In addition to helping create the first state game commission, the group helped reintroduce Rocky Mountain elk to the state and works to protect access to public lands.

An image of Jesse Deubel.

Conservation Leadership Award: Jesse Deubel (above) has worked tirelessly as executive director to grow NMWF into a leading voice for public access and conservation, including securing vital public lands and helping kids access the outdoors through the Nature Niños program.

Conservation Achievement Award: Former NWF board chair Kent Salazar is the former executive director of NMWF and helped found Hispanics Enjoying, Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO).

An image of Greg LeClair.

Young Leader Award: Greg LeClair (above) is a wildlife biologist, Ph.D. student at the University of Maine and founder of Maine Big Night, when volunteers visit amphibian migration sites to record data and help the animals cross roads safely.

Special Achievement Award: Fran Pavley’s efforts to protect the environment as a member of both the California State Senate and Assembly included authoring policies on clean energy, air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.

An image of Naomi Edelson.

Charlie Shaw Conservation Partnership Award: Both Mike Worley, president and CEO of the Georgia Wildlife Federation, and Naomi Edelson (above), senior director of wildlife partnerships at NWF, were recognized for their experience in collaborating with NWF affiliates, leading efforts to secure passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and exemplifying the cooperative spirit that makes the Federation a uniquely successful model.

Donor Spotlight: Arlene Segal of Gladstone, Missouri

WHY I GIVE  "I enjoy traveling with my friends and seeing what the world is like, and on those trips, I learned about the environment and wildlife. I kept learning and learning and learning, and now I feel that conservation is the key to life. We’ve got to put everything we’ve messed up back together."

An image of Block Island Offshore Wind Farm.

A Path Forward for Policy

Every year, the Federation and its 52 state and territorial affiliates vote on policy resolutions that guide decision-making within the Federation family. At the 2023 WildlifeUnite annual meeting, NWF and affiliates voted in eight resolutions that reflect the following priorities:

• Advocating for responsible development and construction of solar-energy infrastructure that protects wildlife habitat and migration corridors.

• Protecting and strengthening legislation that dedicates revenue from taxes on hunting, angling and other outdoor recreation activities to conservation funds.

• Calling on the conservation community to respect Tribal sovereignty and knowledge, and to build authentic, collaborative partnerships with Indigenous People.

• Supporting the responsible construction of offshore wind turbines (above), with consideration to the potential impacts on wildlife and nearby communities.

An image of a green seat turtle at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. • Supporting the designation of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument as a National Marine Sanctuary, creating the world’s largest marine protected area and safeguarding habitat for hundreds of species, including green sea turtles (pictured).

• Supporting initiatives to mitigate the spread of invasive species, particularly in vulnerable ecological areas, such as Hawai‘i.

• Combating the effects of climate change by advocating for federal and state policies that focus on conserving natural resources and shifting to clean energy.

• Recognizing that Black, Brown, Indigenous, low-income and rural communities are disproportionately impacted by climate change, pollution and other environmental hazards, and advancing community-led solutions for environmental justice.

“Our resolutions have led to some of our most important victories.” —Jessica Holmberg, Senior Director of Affiliate Engagement

An image of a Desert Bighorn Sheep.

NWF Affiliate Spotlight: Nevada Wildlife Federation

"Eighty-five percent of the land in Nevada is public (including Valley of Fire State Park, below)—a feat that conserves precious wildlife habitat, provides recreational space and creates opportunities for economic growth.

There are just as many priorities for how that land is managed, but the Nevada Wildlife Federation (NVWF), an NWF affiliate, aims to bridge sometimes-competing interests. “We’re an energy-development state but also a grazing state and an outdoor recreation state,” says NVWF executive director Russell Kuhlman.

Take the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. Located north of Las Vegas, the refuge provides habitat to bighorn sheep (above) and is partially managed by the U.S. Air Force for training. NVWF has been key in protecting parcels not managed by the military and in ensuring the entire refuge is managed responsibly.

An image of a prickly pear cactus in the desert.

Other tenants of Nevada public lands include oil and gas companies, many of which hold 10-year leases, during which the land is not maintained. NVWF has advocated for evaluating land based on its oil and gas potential, prioritizing leases on parcels with high potential and not leasing land with low potential. In July, NVWF supported the introduction of a state bill that would reduce speculative leasing on public lands.

NVWF also supported a recent bill that would fund state efforts to identify hotspots where wildlife and car collisions occur and to build wildlife crossings. In addition to improving road safety, the crossings would connect fragmented wildlife habitat and help protect species.

And then there’s the elephant in the room: “If you stand by any hunting watercooler, you hear conversations about how hunting isn’t as good because of drought and wildfires,” Kuhlman says. As a group devoted to outdoor recreation, NVWF stresses the role sportspeople can play in conservation and encourages the community to leverage its collective power. “We need to make sure the sporting community understands this is because of climate change,” Kuhlman emphasizes. “We should be the frontline voice for climate change.”

An image of a Florida scrub jay resting on a person's hat.

Bulletin: National Wildlife Photo Contest

The winners of the 2023 National Wildlife® Photo Contest will be published in our Winter 2024 issue, and the 2024 contest will open in January. To learn more about the contest and how to submit your photos, visit nwf.org/photocontest.

More from National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation:

Our Work: Protecting Public Lands »
Blog: NWF Celebrates 87 Years »
Read Last Issue's Field Work »

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