February 2014 Newsletter
Partners for Conservation

Partners for Conservation hosts Sensitive Species Forum in Denver
by Tuda Libby Crews, Rancher and PFC Board Member, Bueyeros, New Mexico
 Landowners from a dozen states along with leadership of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and representatives of nonprofit organizations and other government agencies such as USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service and state fish and wildlife agencies gathered in Denver the third week in February to engage in what might have been a difficult conversation.  The group convened with the goal of improving understanding and communication around the management of sensitive species.  Through meaningful dialogue, landowners expressed frustration with sensitive species management and discussed obstacles encountered while also learning more about the Endangered Species Act and the processes contained within it. The critical role of private landowners in managing sensitive species rang true. In a heartfelt way, ranchers expressed sensitive species management often adversely affects agriculture producer’s economic circumstances. One of PFC's core pillars is that lessons learned on the land locally can have national impacts and in that vein the attendees heard from two vastly different landscapes that featured similar partnerships.  Landowners, state agency staff and U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff from both Montana and Georgia shared stories of collaboration in the management of two very different sensitive species, the gopher tortoise of the southeastern United States and the Arctic Grayling of the Big Hole Watershed in southwest Montana.   Afternoon interaction identified key elements contributing to frustration or conflict. A brainstorming session brought creative new solutions and agreement on ways to improve communication. A touch of cowboy humor added camaraderie, and as opportunities to form partnerships were identified, the group reached consensus on a few goals. During the second day of the forum the group identified a small number of tasks to work on, together, along with deadlines for delivery with the goals of improving communication, understanding and, ultimately, outcomes for people, species, landscapes and communities from the management of sensitive species.  Please watch our newsletters and website for updates on our efforts to neighbor up!  

PFC would like to thank 
the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Wildlife Refuge Association and Sand County Foundation-Bradley Fund for the Environment for financially supporting the Sensitive Species Forum and all the attendees for their time and participation. 

Partners for Conservation in the Northern Everglades Landscape
During the first week of February Partners for Conservation Executive Director Steve Jester traveled to Florida to meet with ranchers that are part of the Northern Everglades Alliance, a collaboration of ranchers that are working to conserve their working landscape north of Lake Okeechobee and south of Orlando.  This landscape remains a largely intact agricultural area with significant cattle ranches, citrus orchards and other agricultural production.   It also provides important wildlife habitat for game, species such as deer and turkey as well as rare and sensitive wildlife species .  The landscape provides for ranchers, agricultural communities and wildlife while simultaneously serving important water quality functions for a heavily urbanized south Florida.  Jester had an opportunity to learn more about the community's efforts to conserve their landscape while sharing with the group the activities of PFC nationally.  Later in the day Jester attending a meeting of a broad coalition of sportsmen's groups who value the landscape primarily for its wildlife habitat and recreational values but understand the importance of private landowners in holding it all together and are supportive of the ranchers' efforts.  

Partners for Conservation Winter 2014 Board Meeting
The Partners for Conservation board meets monthly by telephone and since 2010 has met face to face at the annual Private Lands Partners Day typically held in summer or early fall.  February 2014 marked the first ever winter board meeting for the organization.  During the meeting two new board members Lefty Durando of Florida and Jay Tanner of Utah were added to the board.  Officers were also selected for 2014 and include Jim Stone, Montana, Chair; Jim Faulstich, South Dakota, Vice-Chair; Dina Moore, California, Secretary; and Russell Davis, Colorado, Secretary.  The board discussed a number of items during the all day meeting including the desire to complete an initial strategic plan for the organization this year.