The National Wildlife Federation Commits to New Vision for Wildlife Conservation at 80th Annual Meeting

Federation Also Approves Resolutions and Awards Malheur Manager

Estes Park, Colo. (June 21, 2016) – The National Wildlife Federation made a fresh commitment to expanding American wildlife populations, passed a series of resolutions on critical conservation policy, and presented a series of Conservation Achievement Awards at its 80th annual meeting that just concluded in Estes Park, Colo. The Federation is made up of fifty state and territorial affiliate partners, a diverse network that elects key members of NWF’s leadership and sets NWF’s conservation policy priorities each year. Affiliates elected Kathy Hadley of the Montana Wildlife Federation to succeed Bruce Wallace as chair of the NWF Board of Directors in 2017.

A New Vision

Affiliates approved a “We Envision” statement for the National Wildlife Federation that sets a bold course for conservation in America. The vision calls for “a nation where, within a generation, wildlife populations are thriving, not declining” in a rapidly changing world. This ambitious goal would reverse the deep declines in wildlife in the U.S. by addressing critical threats, including habitat loss and fragmentation, water degradation and scarcity, climate change, new forms of pollution—and a population that primarily lives indoors in cities. A recent study estimates that world wildlife populations have declined by 50 percent since 1970, and U.S. populations almost as steeply.

“America faces a conservation crisis that our generation must confront and overcome. Despite endangered species recovery success stories like the bald eagle and restoration of once-depleted game species like elk, wild turkey, wood ducks, and striped bass, thousands of other species of birds, fish, wildlife, insects and plants have been slipping through the cracks for decades, with more species of wildlife becoming at-risk each year,” said Collin O’Mara, president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation.

This vision begins to establish a forward-looking scientific framework for improving fish and wildlife conservation in America with emphasis on linking already protected areas and addressing major ecological gaps. It also focuses on freshwater and coastal resources and recognizes how important habitat areas in agricultural regions and urban centers can be for wildlife. Importantly, the vision begins to forecast a future approach to fish and wildlife conservation in a continuously urbanizing nation experiencing the effects of climate change.

“Our ‘We Envision’ statement is an open invitation to America’s many conservation organizations and agencies to join in a generation-long collaborative effort to increase U.S. wildlife populations and build a new conservation army of 75 million Americans committed to wildlife, and habitat conservation,” said O’Mara.

Affiliates also approved a resolution supporting the recently-released recommendations of Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources, calling for the annual investment of at least $1.3 billion into the currently unfunded Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Account to fund state-based conservation and address conservation needs for thousands of species.

Conservation Achievement Awards

The National Wildlife Federation presented a Conservation Achievement Award to Chad Karges, manager of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that was occupied by armed protesters earlier this year. Karges and his staff have shown an exceptional commitment to community-based conservation work despite the occupation, threats of violence, and property damages.

“Chad Karges, his staff, and law enforcement are true American heroes. While most of us monitored the occupation of the refuge from afar, concerned but safe, these public servants faced this volatile situation defending our public lands with unwavering professionalism,” said O’Mara. “Despite the turmoil, Karges and the refuge staff are already back to doing what they do best – managing the refuge for the benefit of sandhill cranes and other wildlife.”

At a news conference in Estes Park on Thursday, O’Mara and representatives of NWF state affiliates from across the country urged elected officials and candidates to support keeping national public lands in public hands, stressing the importance of national public lands to fish and wildlife, the economy and Americans’ quality of life. 
Other National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Awards included:

The Quixote Foundation: National Conservation Organization of the Year
Daniel Romero: National Conservation Youth Leader
Ellen McNulty: Affiliate Volunteer of the Year
The Honorable Thomas B. Evans, Jr.: National Conservation Leadership Award
José González: National Conservation Education Award
Northern Cheyenne Tribe: National Conservation Special Achievement Award
Sean Gerrity: National Conservation Special Achievement Award
Janice Bezanson: Charlie Shaw Conservation Partnership Award
Don Hooper: Charlie Shaw Conservation Partnership Award
Association of Northwest Steelheaders (Oregon): NWF Affiliate of the Year
The National Wildlife Federation presented Conservation Achievement Awards to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) and others at ceremonies in April.

Resolutions Approved

In addition to endorsing the Blue Ribbon Panel’s wildlife funding recommendations, affiliates also approved resolutions calling for:

A dedicated, reliable, and adequate source of funding sufficient to allow the U.S Forest Service and other agencies to manage wildfires
Additional Federal funding to fight against destructive invasive species
Further reductions in carbon through the most efficient manner, including setting a price on carbon
Federal and state policies and investments that facilitate a fair, just and sustainable transition for communities and workers adversely impacted by declining fossil fuel production
Criminal and civil liability for those who illegally occupy of public lands, and accountability for public officials who support such illegal acts
An expansion of the boundaries of Hawaii’s Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
A federal policy for rapid impact assessment for wildlife in response to such natural disasters
Stronger regulations and policies to minimize harm to stream habitat and species from the impacts of suction dredge mining operations
Department of the Interior to maintain the current new coal leasing moratorium until comprehensive reforms are instituted including raising royalty rates to fair market value, abolishing corporate "self-bonding" of reclamation liabilities, and ensuring compatibility with national carbon reduction goals.
Prohibition of commercial net-pen aquaculture within the Great Lakes
The Army Corps of engineers to advance critical restoration efforts in the Mississippi River system by maximizing collaboration opportunities with non-federal partnerships

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