|Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Alaska||Brett Billings/USFWS
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) represents the collective perspective of the 50 state fish and wildlife agencies. AFWA members have worked cooperatively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop policies affecting fish and wildlife management on refuges. This includes Policy 601 FW 7 (Coordination and Cooperative Work with State Fish and Wildlife Agencies), which recognizes the states authorities on refuges and outlines procedures by which the Service will work with the states on refuges.
As one who was a member of the Conserving the Future vision process steering committee, I want to focus on these overarching themes:
- AFWA and state fish and wildlife agencies, along with hunters and anglers, were instrumental in the deliberations leading to the passage of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997. The act must guide the vision process and future management of the Refuge System.
- In 2002, the Service and the states agreed on a mechanism to fully engage the states in the development of refuge policies in a way that acknowledges the states wildlife management responsibilities and authorities. With the Service, we completed the Mission, Goals and Purposes Policy; Appropriate Refuge Uses Policy; Wildlife Dependent Recreational Uses Policy; Wilderness Stewardship Policy; and the Coordination and Cooperative Work with State Fish and Wildlife Agencies Policy. These policies must guide the vision process and future management of the Refuge System.
- Hunters and anglers must be represented in the vision process and future management of the Refuge System. There must be meaningful coordination among the Service, states, the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, and the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council throughout the entire vision process, including implementation. We also urge the Service to reflect in the vision document that the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is the foundation of fish and wildlife conservation in the United States.
- All 50 state wildlife agencies have created Congressionally mandated state wildlife action plans that include strategies for addressing species in greatest need of conservation. The states also have landscapelevel plans, including migratory bird joint ventures and fish habitat partnerships, and statewide strategic plans for single species, such as mule deer and sagegrouse. The vision document should include specific references to these plans and should provide guidance for coordination with the states in relation to these plans.
John Kennedy is deputy director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and chair of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Federal & Tribal Relations Committee.