Voluntary Conservation Actions to Keep Working Lands Working and to Conserve Fish and Wildlife for Future Generations
What is southern-style conservation? For one thing, it is fueled by strong working relationships, internally and externally. We all know what a strong working relationship looks and feels like: Trust is high in one another and our mutual good intentions. We recognize that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, and that what unites us—a shared passion for conserving wildlife and wild lands—is greater than what divides us—our program and agency affiliations. We are transparent in our dealings, we give one another the benefit of the doubt when things go wrong, we celebrate one another’s successes, and we overlook one another’s shortcomings. We think more in terms of “we” than “they.” We can disagree without being disagreeable. We know that our strength to achieve our mutual goals grows in direct proportion to the strength of our working relationships.
Conservation Southern Style recognizes, as one of our project leaders put it, “It’s not just about the critters; it’s about people, too.” It factors the human dimension into every decision we make, every action we take, and every partnership we create. It recognizes that strong working relationships, whether with peers, States, Tribes, non-profit organizations or landowners come about through dialogue; and that true dialogue occurs only when both parties feel respected and heard.
The accomplishments we are racking up all involve strong working relationships maintained by continuous dialogue.
+ Click here to see materials presented at the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 2014 Conference
Good for Our People
Nearly 80 percent of the lands in the Southeast Region are privately owned. There are more than 100 conservation organizations doing work across the region. We recognize the enormous contribution private landowners make to fish and wildlife conservation working with state and federal partners. From the gopher tortoise in open pine forests, to the darter fish found in the riffles of mountain streams and waterfowl in bottomland hardwoods of the Lower Mississippi Valley, the abundance and diversity of species found only in the Southeast are largely due to the conservation ethic of private landowners and the efforts of the states’ fish and wildlife agencies.
“Private landowners are wonderful stewards of the Southeast’s grand diversity of fish, wildlife and plants. Our goal is to work with them – and our public and private partners – to proactively conserve as many at-risk species as possible through voluntary and innovative measures. Together we can pass down our outdoor traditions to future generations, and help keep farms, forests and other lands working for both people and wildlife.”
- Southeast Regional Director Cindy Dohner
Here are three places we’re bringing all of these constituencies together:
- At-Risk Species Conservation: Led by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Service is working closely with a host of state and federal agencies, private landowners, businesses and conservation organizations to collaboratively deliver good conservation on the ground in a way that helps us prevent the need to add species to the Endangered Speices Act’s list of protected species. So far, that work together has enabled us to preclude the need to list nearly 40 species. To learn more please visit http://www.fws.gov/southeast/candidateconservation/
- Gulf Restoration: The Gulf of Mexico watershed is a big deal. It drains a basin in the Central United States that includes 31 states. Here's why it matters. The Service manages 233 national wildlife refuges and units totaling 5.2 million acres. Along the Gulf Coast alone, the Service manages roughly three million acres on 45 national wildlife refuges from the Florida Keys to the horn of Texas. The watershed covers parts of five Service Regions in the Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, Mountain-Prairie, and Northeast. Our presence throughout this watershed to conserve habitat and work with partners to maintain functioning landscapes not only benefits fish and wildlife, it also benefits our society in the form of ecosystem services that support healthy communities and ensure strong economies. The need for fresh water, storm protection, flood attenuation, climate change adaptation and mitigation, environmental education, fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation, has never been greater to secure this region's long-term resiliency. To learn about how recovery is being funded, download this whitepaper presented by the Environmental Law Institute. To learn more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Vision for restoration, visit http://www.fws.gov/gulfrestoration/.
- Partners for Fish and Wildlife: The Service’s biologists are helping landowners plan and implement conservation work on private lands with funding and technical know how that is enhancing the conservation values of these lands and helping us have a better chance to see more success with population numbers along the way. To get involved, visit http://www.fws.gov/southeast/es/r4-partners/
Good for the Economy
Good conservation is good for the economy. We are committed to undertaking cost-effective conservation actions designed to enhance fish, wildlife and their habitats for future generations of Americans. Millions of Americans across the Southeast hunt, fish and watch wildlife, and they inject millions of dollars into our economy. Learn more about how conservation supports the economy in your state:
In addition, collaborative, partner-driven conservation also has a positive impact on land values and quality of life as well. In 2011, national wildlife refuges pumped $2.4 billion into our nation's economy, supporting more than 35,000 jobs and producing $792.7 million in job income for local communities. Not ony that, but the Service’s Southeast Region draws roughly one in three visitors to a national wildlife refuge in a given year.
Good for Fish & Wildlife
Conservation Southern Style supports sustainable fish and wildlife populations. Healthy fish and wildlife adds to the quality of human life from offering natural filters for air and water to providing cures for diseases. Our collective work to conserve fish and wildlife enhances our own long-term survivability and enjoyment of the outdoors. Watching thousands of ducks lift off the water at Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge is a testament to that.
When we can accomplish good things working together through our At-Risk effort with private landowners, the states and private businesses like The Southern Company we recognize the results and the passion of our citizens who enjoy the South’s rich diversity whether your passion is wildlife, majestic migrating birds or beautiful brook trout, we recognize the good stuff.
In his book, Shin Deep, Chris Hunt writes about why many fly fishermen pursue brook trout. “Its deep colors seem to provide a beacon of light in the near darkness of the evening, almost like a neon beer sign in a dank, dark, but wonderfully familiar tavern.” “You can’t help but stare at it.” Hunt knows what we’re talking about.
Working Across Broad Southeastern Landscapes to Address Complex Challenges
Our rapidly changing ecological, social and financial landscapes present unprecedented challenges to the agencies and organizations responsible for the future of fish, wildlife and other natural resources.
Did you know:
- The southeastern United States has grown in population 14.3% in the past decade, exceeding the national growth rate.
- The population of the southern US is expected to increase by more than 20% to 140 million people by 2050.
Along with population increase and its likely impacts on fish and wildlife resources, demographics and values are also changing (rural to metropolitan, aging populance, expanding Hispanic and Asian populations, etc.) In addition, the conversion of land use for energy extration to meet societal needs, increased demands for fresh water, and a changing climate exacerbate stressors on fish and wildlife populations. These factors pose ever-new challenges to natural resource managers in garnering financial, political, and other much-needed support for conservation.
Many of these resource management challenges transcend political and jurisdictional boundaries. As such, complex management challenges are heightened by the need for collaborative approaches to develop new techniques, to share resources and expertise, and to leverage capacities.
Therefore, seeking to harness the power of collaboration and to leverage technical and financial resources to pursue a more resilient landscape, members of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencieshave developed a five-year project initiative called the Southastern Conservation Adaptation Strategy, or SECAS. The expectation is that SECAS will better position the states, and the conservation community at large, to address the challenges of a rapidly changing world in the 21st century.
To learn more, download the Fall 2014 report presented in October 2014 at SEAFWA
Photo credit: cows in pasture, USDA
A gopher tortoise. Photo: USDA.
A young boy observes a monarch butterfly. Photo: Ryan Hagerty, USFWS.
A girl looking for blue birds. Photo: Steve Hillebrand.
Long grain rice. Photo: Keith Weller, USDA.
A boy hunts. Photo: Tina Shaw, USFWS.