|Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Virginia||Brett Billings/USFWS
As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director calls us to action in Madison, WI, he launches the charge for an implementation team to get to work, set priorities and empower work groups to help move the Conserving the Future process forward.
I well remember 1999, when we released Fulfilling the Promise after the excitement of the conference in Keystone, CO. Then, we charged dozens of teams, which did great work to help move the National Wildlife Refuge System forward in many amazing ways. The excitement and energy of Keystone lived on in the work of the implementation team and work groups.
It is a different time now. In 1999, we had a strong economy, a budget with surpluses and a nation at peace. Today, we cant count on a big influx of new resources to accomplish the work at hand.
We will take the energy of Madison, based on our shared core values enunciated in Aldo Leopolds land ethic, and empower a new generation to make the vision become a reality.
Our vision is clear, and the challenges are urgent. Conserving fish and wildlife and the landscapes that sustain them in the face of a changing world is daunting. We will muster the same energy and innovation our forebears found when they tackled the twin challenges of the Great Depression and the ecological disaster of the Dust Bowl so many decades ago. The determined spirit of our incredible workforce, coupled with innovation and partnerships, will allow us to move landscape conservation forward just as it did in the 1930s.
But we will not be able to do it alone. Hunters and anglers, state and tribal agencies, refuge Friends and nonprofit organizations, among others, will be as essential during this implementation phase as they have been for decades.
We must work with the urgency displayed in the 30s to build a conservation constituency today. We have bold ideas for new urban refuges, more community support groups, more volunteers, new recreational opportunities, and a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Those ideas will energize our fellow citizens, who must become the next generation of conservationists.
We will have the final vision document released by Refuge Week in October. By then, the work of implementing it will be under way. We will need all of you to join us on this journey of Conserving the Future. Lets get to work.