Working for Wildlife

A milestone for an NWF program and a spotlight on coastal work

  • Delaney McPherson
  • Conservation
  • Feb 04, 2022

Marking a milestone

Two decades of wildlife conflict resolution

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Conflict Resolution (WCR) program has settled conflicts between ranchers and wildlife on more than 1.5 million acres. WCR identifies federal public land grazing allotments that experience negative interactions—such as large carnivore predation or the spread of disease from domestic to wild animal populations—then works with ranchers to compensate them for relinquishing their right to graze on that allotment. Ranchers can use their profit to invest in lower conflict opportunities.

“It was an opportunity that came up for me,” says Colorado rancher Joe Sperry, who took advantage of the program to relinquish grazing rights on a 33,464-acre U.S. Forest Service allotment where his domestic sheep posed the risk of spreading respiratory diseases to bighorn sheep (above) due to repeated contact. “It was good for the bighorn sheep, and it worked for me.”

Three men on a ranch

The program mainly focuses on bighorns, grizzly bears, wolves and bison, but it also has positive effects for other species. In one case in Idaho, a grazing allotment was retired to prevent conflicts with wolves preying on domestic sheep. Once the sheep were off the land, salmon populations increased because their spawning habitat was no longer trampled by the sheep. “By removing livestock from such large areas of public land, you’re also benefiting other species,” says Bob McCready, WCR program manager (pictured far right). “It also increases carbon sequestration and improves habitat connectivity.”


Volunteers planting sea grasses

Program Spotlight

Protecting and restoring coastlines

As climate change worsens, our nation’s shorelines are bearing the brunt of its devastating effects, including rising tides, stronger storms and increased flooding. These weather events and climate disasters cause billions of dollars of damage annually.

In response to these significant challenges, NWF developed the Coastal Resilience Growth Fund to build capacity for funding multiple projects at a regional scale. To coordinate implementation, NWF employs a variety of tactics on local and federal levels to restore and protect vulnerable coastal areas.

The Coastal Resilience Growth Fund strategy follows a three-tiered approach: working at the federal level to improve coastal protection policy; working on the ground to assess sites and carry out coastal resilience solutions such as planting sea grasses (above), constructing oyster beds and creating living shorelines; and prioritizing environmental justice to ensure that frontline communities who are most affected can access these solutions.

The Great Marsh in Massachusetts

“We’re seeding multiple projects to build our capacity,” says Chris Hilke, NWF’s director of coastal resilience in the Northeast region. “Our approach will ensure landscape-scale regional impact verses completing one project at a time.” Successful resilience projects have included the Great Marsh in Massachusetts (pictured), where NWF worked with several partners to restore the marsh and nearby dunes, resulting in healthier fish and wildlife habitat and a stronger buffer against coastal storms and other climate disasters.


More from National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation:

Region on the Half Shell »
Blog: NWF Protecting Bighorn Sheep in the High Divide »
Read Last Issue's Working for Wildlife »

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