Affiliate of the Week: Arizona Wildlife Federation
In honor of our 80th Anniversary celebration throughout 2016, the National Wildlife Federation is recognizing each of our Affiliate Partners in a special “Affiliate of the Week” blog series that showcases the dedicated conservation efforts taking place across the country each day. This week we celebrate our affiliate, the Arizona Wildlife Federation, and their commitment to wildlife.
Who We Are
Arizona is one of the most biologically diverse states in the country. Ranging from sea level deserts to lofty mountain peaks, this extraordinary ecological range provides the habitat for more than 800 wildlife species, from Gambel’s quail to bighorn sheep. These natural habitats are increasingly at risk from a host of threats including expanding cities, record setting wild fires, and increasing demands on a limited water supply.The Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) has been a significant part of the protection of wildlife species and their habitats since its founding in 1923 as the Arizona Game Protection Association. In 1968, the organization became a state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation and changed its name to the Arizona Wildlife Federation. In 2015, AWF celebrated 92 years of conservation activity.
At its outset, the AWF’s goal was to take the politics out of fish and game management and to promote the management of Arizona’s natural resources on a scientific basis. In its first year, the AWF led the establishment of the Arizona’s Game and Fish Commission which is a Commission/Department form of wildlife administration, and has led the fight to maintain that system to this day. The Commission is made up five citizen volunteers that are diverse politically and geographically within the state. This group is responsible for setting the policies of Arizona Game and Fish Department which is staffed with scientifically trained career personnel.
What We Do
The AWF is a leading wildlife conservation advocate in Arizona. It has a long list of proud accomplishments, and continues to:
- Lead sportsmen voices in the effort to push back against state efforts to take over public lands. They have testified numerous times, submitted letters to the editor and Op-Eds, placed hundreds of calls to state legislators and met with state elected officials.
- Represent wildlife interests in a nationally recognized collaborative effort known as the Four Forest Restoration Initiative. This ecosystem planning effort will determine the management of 2 million acres of four National Forests.
- Participate in statewide discussions and alternative development for the Mexican Grey Wolf Recovery.
- Publish Arizona Wildlife News magazines quarterly to highlight conservation and habitat issues.
- Represent sportsmen on the Catalina Bighorn Sheep Restoration Committee. The goal of this working group in cooperation with the Arizona Game and Fish Department is to restore a herd of at least 125 Desert bighorn sheep to the Catalina Mountains. To date, some 90 animals have been trans-located and released.
- Graduate more than 200 women from the Becoming An Outdoor Woman (BOW) Program. This program provides for recruitment and retention of women to outdoor recreational activities and conservation ethics.
Making a National Impact
The AWF has worked extensively on key conservation issues with the Arizona Congressional representatives, including the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, Land and Water Conservation Fund, and Waters of the USA.
In Arizona, wildlife enthusiasts and sportsmen and women depend on federal public lands for hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing. These public lands, including our national forests, wildlife refuges, and Bureau of Land Management lands, are the strongholds for fish and wildlife. They provide clean water and the foundation for a vibrant, outdoor-based recreation economy.
Right now, a century-old tradition of hunting, fishing, and other outdoor pursuits on public lands is at risk of being taken from us. The push to transfer control of federally managed public lands to state governments will surely result in privatization, reduced public access, and rampant commercial exploitation at the expense of wildlife and outdoor recreation.
Those of us that care about wildlife need to make our voices heard. We need to let our federal and state legislators know that state’s controlling public lands will result in higher taxes, the sale of important fish and wildlife habitats, reduced public access for outdoor recreation, and significant budget deficits for the state. Please join the AWF in pushing back against this bad idea.