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Gov. Mead launches Species Conservation and ESA Initiative workshops by urging collaboration, good intentions

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IMG 0711 Matt at podiumGov. MeadWyoming Gov. Matt Mead kicked off the first workshop of the Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative with a nod to the significance of wildlife in the West and a request to find the best way to employ state expertise to conserve it responsibly.

"Those of us fortunate enough to live in the West recognize that the West wouldn’t be the West without the wildlife that surrounds us. Unquestionably, it's one of the things that enriches our lives," said Gov. Mead, speaking at the start of the first regional workshop of his Chairman's Initiative for the Western Governors' Association at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyo.

Gov. Mead's initiative creates a mechanism for states to share best practices in species management, promote and elevate the role of states in species conservation efforts, and explore ways to improve the efficiency of the ESA.

"We need to get to a place where the Endangered Species Act can provide predictability for species, our citizens and for industry," said Gov. Mead, who encouraged workshop participants to set an example with its process.

"If we’re going to make improvements to the ESA, we collectively have to have the courage and the faith that people with good intentions can work together and put together something to present not only to WGA, but at the national level and Congress."

Gov. Mead also announced the locations of the next three workshops: Boise, Idaho, on Jan. 19; Oahu, Hawaii on Feb. 12, and Colorado at a date to be announced in March.

IMG 0705 Jim at podiumWGA Executive Director Jim OgsburyHere's a look at other workshop panels and roundtables.

Energy and Mining: The panelists highlighted the impact of species conservation efforts in the energy and mining sectors. Panelists: Nick Owens, Staff Regulatory Analyst, Anadarko Petroleum; Chris Reichard, Environmental Policy Analyst, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association; Sherry Liguori, Avian Program Manager, PacifiCorp

Sportsmen, Recreation and Environmental Interests:The panelsts discussed ESA's impact, including Ed Arnett of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, who noted Ed Arnett TRCEd Arnett of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership"the best solution to improving the act is to avoid having to use it in the first place." Panelists: Lee Livingston, Outfitter/Commissioner, Livingston Outfitting/Park County, Wyoming; Ed Arnett, Senior Scientist, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; Sara Brodnax, Manager, Habitat Markets, Environmental Defense Fund

Agriculture and Forestry:  The panelists shared perspectives on how the ESA is influencing work on the likes of recovering large carnivores and ranching. Panelists: Jim Neiman, President/CEO, Neiman Enterprises; Pat O’Toole, President, Family Farm Alliance; Honorable Albert Sommers, Owner, Sommers Ranch/Wyoming State Representative; Don Ament, Governance Committee Member, Platte River Recovery Implementation Program

Government and Quasi-Governmental Entities: The importance of federal officials accounting for the conservation efforts of state efforts was noted, including the assertion by Joel Bousman of the Sublette County Commission that "too often federal government either ignores or simply checks the box in county involvement." Panelists: Joel Bousman, County Commissioner, Sublette County Commission; John Harja, Senior Policy Analyst, Utah’s Public Lands Policy Coordination Office; Jacque Buchanan, Deputy Regional Forester, United States Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region

Roundtable on Recovery and Delisting:The roundtable examined the ESA's impact, including the notion that "ESA has been constructive, but there’s been more effort in listing than delisting species," according to Jeff Hagener of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Panelists: Jeff Hagener, Director, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; Dustin Miller, Administrator, Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation; Scott Talbott, Director, Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Fankhauser and GriffithsTerry Fankhauser, left, and Tim GriffithsRoundtable on Innovative Conservation Practices and Tools: Participants discussed local, state and regional innovative conservation practices and tools, including this thought from Bob Budd of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust: "Our efforts are only as good as what the people on the ground do." Panelists: Bob Budd, Executive Director, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust; Tim Griffiths, Coordinator, West Working Lands for Wildlife, USDA/NRCS; Terry Fankhauser¸ Executive Vice President, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association

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