EDGEFIELD, S.C. — During the American Wildlife Conservation Partners press conference – hosted at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s annual SHOT Show – NWTF co-CEO Jason Burckhalter commended the AWCP and discussed the NWTF’s involvement in advocating for legislation that benefits America’s natural resources and sportsmen and women.
Burckhalter said it takes all of our organizations working together to ensure our future generations experience our natural resources as we do today. Since its founding, he continued, the AWCP has profoundly affected America’s wildlife and wild places.
The AWCP is a consortium of 50 organizations that represent the interests of America’s millions of hunters, conservationists and professional wildlife and natural resource managers.
Burckhalter noted the significant successes of AWCP from the 117th Congress, including the unprecedented Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that resulted in the NWTF signing a 20-year, $50 million national master stewardship agreement with the USDA Forest Service.
He also lauded the passage of the MAPLand Act and the REPLANT Act but said that there is still much to accomplish, namely getting the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act signed into law and establishing a new law that prevents special interest groups from inhibiting the NWTF’s conservation delivery on public lands nationwide.
Despite a tremendous multi-year, collaborative effort by the NWTF, AWCP partners and the sporting and conservation community at large, RAWA’s passage as law never came to fruition, Burckhalter noted.
RAWA would amend the Pittman-Robertson Act to direct a guaranteed appropriation of nearly $1.4 billion for states and tribes to recover vulnerable species.
RAWA would supplement current Pittman-Robertson funding, not replace it, allowing the dollars derived through excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment to remain focused on game species conservation, hunter recruitment and access, as well as shooting range development. In 2021, these taxes generated $1.1 billion for state conservation efforts, maintaining the status of the shooting and hunting community as America’s most stalwart conservation heroes.
The NWTF and AWCP partners are also actively working with members of Congress on a law that would make it harder for anti-forest-management groups to misuse the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, the Equal Access to Justice Act and the federal court system to keep important forest and grasslands work from occurring on federal lands.
The prospective law, sponsored by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), and RAWA are priorities for the NWTF and AWCP as the 118th Congress ramps up.
Also addressed was the NWTF and AWCP’s early involvement in planning the 2023 Farm Bill.
The farm bill is one of the most extensive conservation bills that supports work on federal public lands as well as voluntary incentive programs for family and private working lands. Through numerous coalitions, the sporting conservation community is working to develop priorities for the conservation and forestry titles of the bill to ensure the authorities and funding are available to continue to manage habitat on lands across all ownership boundaries.
Burkhalter noted that what we do on our public and private lands in the coming decade will be instrumental in strengthening resilience in our nation’s forests and other upland ecosystems, ensuring clean water for our communities, providing access for hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts, while also enhancing wildlife habitat.
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale.
2023 is the NWTF’s 50 th anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization’s mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50 th anniversary, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and NWTF’s people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future. Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.