This year, the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) celebrated its 20th year working collectively as a coalition to advance federal legislative priorities that benefit wildlife conservation efforts and expand hunting and fishing access and opportunities for the American public.
Safari Club International (SCI) has served as a member of the AWCP for nearly two decades. AWCP's membership list currently stands at over 50 groups. It includes other prominent organizations like Boone & Crockett Club, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Wild Sheep Foundation. The group is linked together by a dedication to ensuring the vitality of our wildlife resources and providing for sustainable public use and enjoyment of those resources under the science-based management of the state and federal fish and wildlife agencies. In order to further the mission of AWCP, members regularly interact and engage with governmental agencies and Congress to advance policies, both legislative and regulatory, which promote wildlife conservation and public access for hunting and fishing.
Earlier this year, the AWCP completed a new comprehensive list of policy-focused strategies to improve wildlife habitat, expand public access for hunting and fishing, and strengthen our nation's long history of conservation success for future generations.
Titled “Wildlife for the 21st Century” (W21), the document was created through a collaborative process with contributions from the entire coalition of groups. W21 guides legislative priorities and makes strategic recommendations related to wildlife conservation and our hunting heritage to the next presidential administration. The latest edition is the sixth version of the series. Previous volumes were given to Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump.
The W21 recommendations are grounded in science and built on the success of the North American model of conservation, and recommendations related to wildlife and habitat conservation recognize the contributions of hunting as a sustainable and beneficial use of natural resources.
SCI played a role in helping to steer the development of several key aspects of the document, including achieving greater results from an improved Endangered Species Act (ESA) program by helping species before ESA protection is needed and improving the ESA by reducing associated litigation; requiring collaboration on big game migration corridors and habitat by improving transportation planning to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and strengthening federal-state coordination; and enhancing access for hunters and outdoor recreationists by maintaining robust funding for federal lands, roads, and trails, improving public access databases, and ensuring land transactions enhance federal land access.
At the AWCP's most recent virtual conference, several key speakers were featured, including Congressmen Bruce Westerman (R – AR), Senator Martin Heinrich (D – NM), and the Chiefs of the U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resource Conservation Service. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt also provided remarks. He challenged the group to work together to develop a list of priorities for him to tackle during the remainder of the year. The group concluded that the list should focus on priorities for implementing the Great American Outdoors Act, a recently signed law that provides unprecedented levels of federal funding for wildlife conservation and public access projects. SCI is part of a small working group that oversees the prioritization of issues that impact the hunting community during implementation of the Act.