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Monday, February 6 • 2:40pm - 3:00pm
Symposia Session - S4: Sustaining America's Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources. The Role of State Agencies in Natural Resource Governance and Keys to Success

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AUTHORS: Patrick E. Lederle, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Ann B. Forstchen, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Daniel J. Decker, Cornell University; Christian A. Smith, Wildlife Management Institute; Darragh Hare, Cornell University

ABSTRACT: State natural resource agencies play a central role in fulfilling public trust responsibilities for the effective management of natural resources. Recent work on combining elements of public trust thinking and good governance resulted in publication of a broad set of wildlife governance principles (Decker et al. 2016, Conservation Letters 9:290).  Although described as ‘wildlife,’ these principles are applicable to many natural resource management challenges confronting state agencies today.  The principles, while not prescriptive, offer guidance for ecologically and socially responsible natural resource conservation. They address persistent, systemic challenges and, if adopted, will help bring the natural resource community in line with modern expectations for governance of public natural resources. Successful implementation will require changes in the customs, practices and policies of state agencies, yet agencies can play a key leadership role by modeling those behaviors, improving their own effectiveness, and building stronger relationships with other agencies, organizations, and partners in the broader conservation community.  
The governance principles emphasize diverse values, sound ecological and social science, broad public participation, accountability, and collaborative conservation. Important steps required for successful implementation by state agencies include, 1) discussion of the principles in relation to their current situation and desires for the future, 2) establishment of clear expectations of individual and agency behavior consistent with the traits and practices that characterize the principles, and 3) alignment of resources to ensure priority changes can be implemented.  Outcomes of agency alignment with the principles include a shift to a more holistic approach that embraces interests in all species, increased public participation in decision making, capacity through partnerships, agency relevancy, and support for conservation.

Monday February 6, 2017 2:40pm - 3:00pm CST
Grand Ballroom E