Yesterday was an energizing, inspiring first day of the Conserving the Future conference for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Many themes have been emerging from the conference so far and I want to take today’s blog to talk about two that I thought were particularly notable and important.
The first is the use of science. The Service has a long, distinguished history of using the best available science in our decisions and our ability to have access to the best science is more important than ever.
Here’s what we know:
The vision document we are finalizing this week requires better and more comprehensive scientific information to guide our decisions. It follows the themes of Strategic Habitat Conservation - conservation planning and design leads to conservation delivery and outcome-based monitoring in order to guide conservation for the future. Science is imbedded in all aspects of this process. I pledge to work with our leadership to develop and get access to the best scientific information available.
As Dr. Gabriela Chavarria said in her talk today, the Refuge System should look to opportunities such as the Information Quality Act to allow the public to question and understand our scientific decisions. I truly believe that our ability to conserve fish and wildlife in the future is dependent on the deference that the public gives to us as public servants.
While that deference is earned through our scientific integrity, it also comes from listening to and working with our partners and the public.
This is my second point.
I am thrilled to have the participation and support of so many people from across the country who care as much about the Refuge System as our Service employees. We have participation from so many partners from state agencies, tribes, non-governmental organizations, friends groups, and youth organizations.
Seeing the youth delegates who are attending the conference remind us all that the future of the Service and the Refuge system is in good hands.
I challenge each and every one of us to work with new partners, seek out the best scientific information, and mentor the next generation to conserve the National Wildlife Refuge System that we all care about. I also invite our attendees to join us for our Science in the National Wildlife Refuge System poster session. You will see 100 posters that describe how we are using science to guide our decisions on National Wildlife Refuges across the country.
So, day 2. Let’s think critically, challenge ourselves and rely on science to guide our decisions. Let’s find new partners and build ever stronger partnerships.
This is what we must do to implement a 21st- century approach to conservation.