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2023 State and Territory Wildlife Wins
Our local affiliates celebrate a year of conservation work
The National Wildlife Federation proudly works with 52 state and territory affiliates around the United States—autonomous, nonprofit organizations that take the lead in state and local conservation efforts and collaborate with the National Wildlife Federation to conduct grassroots activities on national issues. These affiliates greatly enhance our ability to protect wildlife and natural resources.
From conservation policy wins to innovative new programs to exciting organizational growth…this is only some of the work that our incredible affiliates accomplished in 2023.
Iowa Wildlife Federation applied for and received a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Grant from USDA/NRCS for just over $3.7 million to connect existing wildlife habitat, especially those that are of high value but disconnected from each other, and to create wildlife corridors for all species with a special emphasis on pollinators and monarch butterflies. The project will convert 1500 acres of working lands into prairie and 100 acres into wetlands and micro wetlands. This will integrate working lands into the Iowa State Wildlife Action Plan.
Our friends at New Mexico Wildlife Federation (NMWF) have been busy as ever; successes for 2023 include passage of “The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund,” which provides New Mexico with a dedicated source of funding for land and water conservation, passage of a first-ever “Wildlife Corridors Fund”, and Public Stream Access success! NMWF’s Nature Niños program educated more than 400 kids in outdoor spaces and completed the “Mi Tierra Salvaje” project for engagement programming in marginalized communities.
Arkansas Wildlife Federation (AWF) had another busy year; adding new members to the board of directors and hiring a new staff position, a Director of Community Conservation, who is focused on maximizing inclusive public awareness and engagement in wildlife conservation statewide. AWF hosted a Farm Bill Conservation Forum in partnership with NWF, reached out to lawmakers, and hired government relations consultants to help build relationships and guide AWF’s policy work on a state and federal level.
AWF also partnered with NWF’s Mississippi River team, facilitating connections, meetings, and tours in Arkansas to scope larger opportunities for partner-driven conservation work in the Mississippi River “Delta” region. AWF is fully scoping the possibility of launching a private lands program to help fill statewide gaps in working with private landowners in Arkansas to take action on their properties that will most benefit wildlife and protect biodiversity.
With NWF’s support, Conservation Council of Hawai’I (CCH) was able to hire a second employee, providing operational support to the organization. CCH also worked with NWF to procure thousands of testimonies in support of the protection and expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands during the 2023 NOAA scoping period.
A historic agreement by the federal government, announced in December, supports the Columbia Basin Restoration Initiative, developed by the Nez Perce, Yakama, Warm Springs, and Umatilla Tribes along with the States of Oregon and Washington, to rebuild imperiled fish populations, honor Tribal treaty rights, and restore healthy ecosystems while supporting a robust economy. Idaho Wildlife Federation and NWF have both long been a champion of recovering salmon and steelhead in the Snake River, standing with tribes.
Kentucky Waterways Alliance (KWA)launched the Kentucky Watershed Network (with funding from an NWF affiliate capacity grant) to support watershed groups statewide with the collective goal of improving water quality. KWA also co-hosted two days of meetings with NWF in Louisville with 60+ stakeholders from dozens of organizations from seven states in the Ohio River Basin to plan and strategize for the protection and restoration of the Ohio River.
Utah Wildlife Walls launched in three cities bringing wildlife to people through landscape-sized art, history and storytelling. Way to go Utah Wildlife Federation!
The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council continued to be powerhouse advocates for Alaska and the climate, cheering when the Biden Administration recently ordered the permanent protection of old-growth forests on federal lands, a huge win for the Tongass, which SEACC continues to work to protect.
Kansas Wildlife Federation is undertaking a strategic planning and re-branding effort; creating a new logo that better represents the organization and connects them to the habitat and species of the state. They are also doing an incredible job of recruiting new board members while focusing their efforts on conservation policy by being a part of the Kansans for Conservation (KFC) coalition. The KFC successfully garnered significantly increased funding for implementation of the state water plan and is now working on legislation to create dedicated funding for wildlife and conservation. KWF has worked with the NWF Action Fund to help support the KFC’s work.
Louisiana Wildlife Federation introduced education on practicing “Lights Out for Migratory Birds” in Louisiana to reduce hazards for birds. An important milestone for coastal restoration was reached with groundbreaking for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, the single largest ecosystem restoration project in the history of the U.S.
In April 2023, North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF) held an Ocean Advocacy Workshop, where students from universities all across the state gathered to learn skills to be champions on issues such as fisheries, plastics, and offshore wind energy. Last year, NCWF volunteers and staff got their hands dirty restoring habitat for wildlife. In total, 2,462 volunteers participated in 114 habitat restoration projects that removed 115,785 pounds of litter and planted 5,323 trees and plants (including 3,217 pollinator plants). Also in NC, an updated Red Wolf Recovery Plan was unveiled in late September 2023, and the USFWS is currently developing the Recovery Implementation Strategy for the species. Last year, the wild population gained three litters, one in the wild and two in acclimation pens.
The Environmental League of Massachusetts celebrated their 125th anniversary at Earth Night, which among other festivities, included awards presented to former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and Boston mayor Michelle Wu.
Colorado Wildlife Federation grew both their Becoming an Outdoors Woman and Vamos a Pescar programs to reach underserved communities and new sporting participants.
The National Aquarium has been working closely with NWF on supporting offshore wind in Maryland and ensuring critical protections for wildlife species in the process – primarily through education (including an in-building demonstration) and outreach with their constituents and state-level advocacy. Also in 2023, with support from both organizations, Maryland’s legislature enacted the POWER Act, which quadruples the state’s offshore wind commitment while also prioritizing wildlife and habitat protection.
Wyoming Wildlife Federation led the successful removal of six proposed wind turbines in the Red Rim-Grizzly Wildlife Habitat Management Area and undertook major final engagement and public outreach for the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan – a decade of work coming to completion.
Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) hosted a Wetlands Summit in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation. Over 350 professionals from across the Midwest joined in for three days to collaborate on the amazing wetland related work being accomplished across Missouri. CFM also partnered with several of their affiliate organizations to host the inaugural Governor’s Mentored Deer Hunt in eight locations. First-time hunters were paired with mentors and landowners to learn hunting, safety, processing, and much more throughout an entire weekend. In its 6th year, CFM awarded David A. Risberg Memorial Grants, to their affiliate organizations to complete boots-on-the-ground habitat work.
Nevada Wildlife Federation saw legislative and policy success on oil & gas leasing reform, protection of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, and public land advocacy surrounding climate change and wildlife corridors.
The Planning and Conservation League (PCL) was extremely busy in 2023 on a wide variety of issue areas. The highlights include modernizing water rights by passing Senate Bill 389, legislation to ensure the most senior water users provide the state of California with data on their current and historical use. PCL also advanced AB 460 and AB 1337 to give state officials the ability to restrict water diversions when streams reach critically low flows to protect fish and other wildlife. PCL was part of a coalition of groups that helped pass Senate Bill 337 to put into law California’s goal to protect 30% of our lands by 2030 to create greater connectivity for wildlife and protect their habitats, all with an eye toward building a better future for all of California.
New Hampshire Audubon established their 40th wildlife sanctuary in the state. The Frederick Yeatts Wildlife Sanctuary abuts the White Mountain National Forest on its west and north borders; an area rich in wildlife and important forest, wetland, and grassland habitat.
In a big victory in addressing PFAS in West Virginia, when a study found that PFAS levels exceed current health advisories in the source water for 130 public water systems across the state, though it was not publicized by agencies, West Virginia Rivers analyzed the data; published maps and fact sheets; and conducted community forums, webinars, documentary screenings, and media outreach to educate the public. Their work to build public awareness of PFAS directly led to the passage of the PFAS Protection Act in the 2023 legislative session. Now WVDEP is required to develop action plans for 130 contaminated sites in an effort to identify and reduce PFAS at its source, industries are required to report and monitor use of PFAS, and WV will have to propose a PFAS water quality standard immediately upon issuance of EPA’s recommended criteria.
Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma had an incredible legislative session and continues to be an important player at the state Capitol. They have created a strong reputation as the “go to” conservation organization in the state and have impressed legislators with their non-partisan, thoughtful approach to engagement. They continue to focus their efforts on strong water policy and have just begun work on permanent state conservation funding.
Continuing their work to protect Illinois’ rivers, lands, and wildlife, Prairie Rivers Network, in 2023,launched a Clean Water Forever campaign to sound the alarm about the growing crisis facing water quality, quantity, equity, and access. The campaign focuses on listening to the concerns of downstream communities and supporting the identification and implementation of locally-informed solutions.
Arizona, Montana, New Mexico and Washington
Thanks to the efforts of NWF, our affiliates the Arizona Wildlife Federation, Montana Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, and Conservation Northwest, and other partners, the U.S. Forest Service announced a historic proposal to conserve old-growth forests through proactive, science-based management.
Texas Conservation Alliance (TCA) had a highly successful year on all fronts and continues to surpass their programmatic goals. Their community outreach and engagement has resulted in hundreds of volunteers working on anything from tree plantings to crab trap clean ups along the Texas coast. Their Lights Out for Wildlife Program has collected incredibly useful data concerning building bird strikes and has helped provide insights into why birds like the American Woodcock are so prevalent in their data. Working to educate Texans on the need to conserve water resources and not build expensive and habitat destroying reservoirs continues to be a huge success and they continue to make headway with officials and legislators on this important issue. TCA was also instrumental in helping to pass Proposition 14, the Centennial Parks Fund, which designated $1 Billion in existing state revenues for the purchase of new park lands.
Arizona Wildlife Federation’s (AZWF) education and outreach programs reached 13,000 supporters and followers; newly certified 281 Garden for Wildlife Habitats; and heldn16 hands-on education programs, outings, and events. AZWF was also instrumental in the designation of 917,000 acres for the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument. And AZWF Volunteers for Wildlife completed 10 projects removing 17.3 miles of barbed wire, improved 4 miles of trails and release 10 Sonoran Pronghorn.
In August, Virginia Conservation Network released their annual Common Agenda Environmental Briefing Book. This collection of policy papers written, edited, and voted on by VCN partners had a record level of engagement this year with over 75 authors from nearly 50 organizations. The book included 40 policy papers on issues ranging from increasing access to open spaces by funding trails to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay by tackling stormwater pollution. It also featured some new policy papers to address burgeoning issues including a policy paper in response to the Supreme Court’s 2023 decision Sackett vs. EPA focused on the importance of preserving Virginia’s “no net loss” approach to wetlands protection and, two new papers written about the water, land and climate implications of data centers.
Read more about National Wildlife Federation’s affiliate program.