The Ruffed Grouse Society is among 35 of the nation’s leading conservation organizations that united to form the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) nearly 20 years ago.
The coalition has now grown to 50 organizations, representing the interests of America’s millions of hunter-conservationists, professional wildlife and natural resource managers, outdoor recreation users, conservation educators, and wildlife scientists. As a coalition of organizations ranging from the Archery Trade Association to the Wildlife Management Institute, individual AWCP organizations have their own primary areas of interest, but we share a commitment to coordinated engagement with federal agencies and Congress to promote wildlife conservation and provide for sustainable public use and enjoyment of those resources.
Strength in Numbers
Coordination through AWCP provides strength in numbers. The coalition does not have its own staff or agenda, but chooses a Chair, Vice-Chair, and representatives on a Steering Committee from among staff of member organizations. Belonging to AWCP provides important opportunities for any individual member organization to leverage the power of partnerships, drawing greater attention and action to important conservation issues. Over the past twelve months, the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society have advocated for federal agencies and Congress to implement specific legislation, regulations, and policies by adding the support of our organization to a variety of correspondence that gained support from more than thirty AWCP organizations on average. The network of AWCP organizations also helps sustain attention on issues over time, such as following up on passage of a strong 2018 Farm Bill with input to the Department of Agriculture regarding concerns regarding inadequate implementation of the authorized programs. Working together and sharing insights helps all partners stay more attentive and informed.
The Nonpartisan Nature of Conservation
As more voices are added to ours when critical issues require attention, gaining support from a diversity or organizations speaking up provides an important reminder that conservation is nonpartisan. For example, after years of inaction and Congressional gridlock, AWCP helped lead the charge to finally tackle the persistent “fire borrowing” problems that have eroded U.S. Forest Service capacity to manage our National Forests. AWCP helped mobilize broad public support for addressing this issue and directly engaged key Congressional leaders and appropriators to craft a new approach when initial legislative efforts fell just short of the finish line. Working with other AWCP partners, we ensured provisions were included in the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill, including some measures that are only now being implemented to help unburden the agency. AWCP will remain engaged to ensure the intent of the fire borrowing fix continues to guide implementation.
Presidential Priorities for Conservation
Finally, in addition to engaging federal agencies and Congress to advocate for sound management and sustainable use of our natural resources, AWCP has made a concerted effort since its inception to engage each Presidential administration and communicate a unified policy platform that all partner organizations endorse as top priorities for the conservation, hunting, and angling communities. This document is called Wildlife for the 21st Century, and with updates for the fifth volume in 2016, our coalition took a next step in this engagement effort. AWCP reached out to both the Trump and Clinton campaigns to communicate these priorities, arrange meetings with their staff, and ensure the candidates were aware of what we would expect of them, and what support we could offer their administrations regardless of which party would take residence in the White House for the next term. Over the past year, subcommittees within AWCP have been making revisions to prepare the sixth volume of Wildlife for the 21st Century, with a goal to be even more accessible to campaign and eventually transition teams, so once again the next administration can hit the ground running with our support to benefit conservation from either side of the political aisle.