Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) Concludes
Anchorage – The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) met this past week at the Hotel Captain Cook. The association consists of 19 state and 4 provincial agencies responsible for fish and wildlife management in the western states, Mexico, and Canada. This year’s theme was Conservation Challenges and Opportunities Amidst Diverse Interests. Nearly 400 people attended the 5-day meeting
ADF&G Commissioner Denby Lloyd, outgoing president of the association expressed his satisfaction with this year’s meeting. “Our visitors had a great experience. They saw glaciers, wildlife and Native heritage, and got a chance to eat real Alaskan delicacies. . Several issues were brought to the forefront for open discussion among federal land managers and the western states, with sometimes competing responsibilities, in addressing fish and wildlife issues.” Commissioner Lloyd also commented on the importance of Alaska’s membership and prominence in the organization stating that “having everyone in the same room creates a rare opportunity for us to communicate and resolve issues with our partner agencies.”This year’s plenary sessions included panel discussions exploring the scientific and human values associated with several controversial management issues in Alaska. Doug Vincent-Lang with ADF&G planned the panel discussions which included the Pebble Mine, North Slope Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Development, Managing Human-Bear Interactions in Anchorage, and Intensive Management of Ungulates and Their Predators Doug Vincent-Lang, who planned the plenary sessions said “I was glad the sessions were so well received. They really offered people a well rounded glimpse into our controversial issues.”
Craig Fleener, ADF&G Director of Subsistence provided a first-hand insight to subsistence ways of living for the conference attendees at Tuesday’s session.Ray Troll was the keynote speaker for the associations’ awards banquet Monday evening. Doug Vincent-Lang received the President’s Award for his two decades of service and representation of ADF&G in roles of increasing responsibility for representing the Department in complex issues involving state and federal management issues and public uses. Committees met at the conference to share a wide range of information involving management of fish and wildlife. Several committees discussed concerns for federal initiatives such as climate change and landscape conservation cooperatives. Others addressed ways to cooperate in addressing energy developments. Two committees expressed support for ADF&G in pursuing litigation to assert state authority to protect the few remaining caribou on Unimak Island. “This issue is important to all the western states because the Refuge Improvement Act is clear that the states retain fish and wildlife management authority on federal lands, and that management is intended to be active rather than passive.” Tina Cunning, ADF&G Special Assistant on Federal Issues. Despite the litigation, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and ADF&G set an example for the agencies in describing the caribou issues and their commitment to work closely on addressing wildlife issues across all the refuges in Alaska.
The next WAFWA meeting will take place in Big Sky, Montana in July, 2011.