When I talk with our state partners -- whether in meetings of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies or at less-formal get-togethers to discuss the latest conservation news -- I can’t shake the image of Ben Franklin.
After the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Franklin said: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
He understood that for a revolution to succeed against monumental odds, cooperation and unity were imperative. With all the mind-boggling challenges facing conservation, a revolution is surely needed, and we cannot achieve success without unity.
So we come together at every opportunity to figure out innovative ways for us to cooperate and develop new solutions to problems like climate change, water scarcity or habitat fragmentation.
Sure, they have their own budgets, rules and duties. But when it comes down to it, we share a most-basic cause with our state partners –- the protection and restoration of our nation’s fish and wildlife heritage.
We might be able to explain our differences, but I know that neither the American public nor the fish and wildlife resources we manage cares a bit about what’s a federal role and what’s a state one.
We can’t afford to either.
These are tough times for conservation. Many state agency budgets have been drastically reduced, while others are under enormous pressure. At the federal level, we face the prospect of significant cuts to essential conservation programs -– including those benefiting state conservation efforts.
We must work together and we are. Conservation efforts for the greater-sage grouse, the New England cottontail, the Apache trout and many species involve the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, our state partners, tribes and other interested parties.
In his book Poor Richard’s Almanac, Franklin wrote, “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” The country has realized the worth of native fish and wildlife, it is up to all of us -– the Service, the states, everyone -– to work together and ensure the well never runs dry.