President's View: Focusing on What We Share

National Wildlife Federation president and CEO Collin O’Mara reflects on the common ground of land, water and wildlife

  • Collin O’Mara
  • Conservation
  • Dec 30, 2023

The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would help protect creatures of all sizes, including the American pika, seen here gathering vegetation in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

WILDLIFE CONNECTS US—across geography and generations. The National Wildlife Federation, through its mission and work, embodies this essential idea. In fact, it’s what unifies our 52 state and territorial affiliates and our more than 7 million members and supporters. As we see so much division across our nation and in our politics, it is worth pausing and reflecting upon the common values we share.

If there is one thing Americans have demonstrated repeatedly over the past half-century, it’s that the land, water and wildlife around us can provide important common ground and opportunities to bridge the partisan divide. That is one of the reasons why we’ve seen Congress rally around and pass landmark environmental bills—even during times of deep partisan division—such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; the Great American Outdoors Act; the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act; the Land and Water Conservation Fund; the Clean Water Act; the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Take, for example, the Endangered Species Act, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Since the act’s passage in 1973, it has helped save species on the brink, from bald eagles to brown pelicans. The Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Great American Outdoors Act have preserved families’ abilities to enjoy the outdoors, from corner parks and local trails to distant peaks and remote vistas. The foundational Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act have made cleaner air and water accessible for millions.

We still have an immense amount of work to do, not only in grappling with threats to the natural world but also in addressing the ongoing environmental injustices of today. Luckily, our leaders are already pursuing solutions—including the historic bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act—that can follow in the footsteps of earlier aisle-bridging successes.

The natural world has near limitless potential to help address the mounting challenges we face, from bolstering resilience to climate change to improving air and water quality to providing green job opportunities and ensuring access to healthy food for all. Nature is a force bigger than us, with the power to create and destroy, as well as the potential to bring us together, even amid an acrimonious political environment. Instead of focusing on where we disagree, let’s use this year’s discussions, debates and town halls to remind our leaders, and each other, why our wildlife and ecosystems matter.

After all, wildlife cannot speak for themselves. We make progress most effectively when we work together.

Share Your Views.

Follow Collin O’Mara on X (formerly known as Twitter) @Collin_OMara or email

More from National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation:

NWF: Our Work »
Read Last Issue's President's View »

Get Involved

Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

Learn More
Regional Centers and Affiliates