Wildlife For the 21st CenturyIn August 2000, America's leading wildlife conservation organizations gathered as guests of the Boone and Crockett Club in Missoula, Montana. These dedicated hunter/conservationists met for one purpose: To identify how best to work collectively to help chart the course for the future of wildlife conservation in the United States.
The American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) evolved from this initial gathering. AWCP is not an organization per se; rather, it is a consortium of 42 organizations, representing over 6 million individual members. AWCP is designed to facilitate communication within the wildlife conservation community and between our community and elected and appointed officials and policy makers at the federal level.
Every four years, concurrent with the presidential election cycle, AWCP drafts a series of recommendations for the incoming administration. These recommendations represent a general agreement of the partner organizations and outline steps necessary to promote the conservation and management of wildlife in America. So far AWCP has published three volumes of Wildlife for the 21st Century: the first two were addressed to President Bush in March 2001 and May 2005 respectively. The third was addressed to President Obama January 2009. AWCP organizations also participate in "sign-on" letters addressed to federal officials; these letters usually advocate a position on matters of high importance to the conservation of America's wildlife, habitat, and to the preservation of America's hunting heritage. Since 2001, well over 150 letters have been submitted.
The early successes of Boone and Crockett Club members and the citizen-sportsmen of the early 1900's offer insight into the value of unity. Back then, wildlife and their habitats had been visibly depleted. In the 1930's, drought and low waterfowl numbers presented a rallying point for hunters and other conservationists to take action. In each case, people interested in wildlife could see some uncomplicated, visible threats they could combat directly. Formation of the Forest Reserves and their evolution into the National Forests, development of treaties to conserve migratory birds, passage of the Pittman/Robertson Act, and other movements came to fruition because people of like minds, with specific objectives, worked together. This history shows that unified efforts do produce gains for conservation of wildlife and their habitats.
AWCP has, to date, enjoyed considerable success. AWCP partner organizations were instrumental in helping to secure the passage of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 and in expanding the reach of important Farm Bill conservation programs. In 2005, AWCP held the first ever hunting summit with the Secretary of the Interior, which was the inspiration for the establishment of the 2006 Sporting Conservation Council, a federal advisory committee to the Secretaries of the Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture; President Bush's 2007 Executive Order 13443: Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation; and the subsequent 2008 North American Wildlife Policy Conference.
Perhaps as important, America's hunter-conservationists today enjoy greater visibility to and influence with elected and appointed officials than at any time in recent memory. A cornerstone of this influence is the willingness to recognize and respect the interests of others while remaining focused on doing what is best for our nation's wildlife resources.
AWCP's dedication to securing the future of America's wildlife and hunting heritage is unequivocal and unequaled. As we move forward into the 21st Century, AWCP member organizations are well-positioned to maintain a strong leadership role for America's hunters in wildlife conservation especially through pursuit of the eight theme recommendations in Wildlife for the 21st Century, Volume III and through implementation and fulfillment of the Ten-Year Action Plan resulting from the 2008 North American Wildlife Policy Conference.