Boone and Crockett Club Hosts 20th Anniversary Celebration of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners; Schoonen Elected as 2022 Chair
MISSOULA, Mont. – The Boone and Crockett Club hosted more than 50 of the nation’s top hunting conservation organizations that work together through the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) as they celebrated two decades of collaboration on wildlife policy. The event at Club headquarters in Missoula, Montana, celebrated accomplishments since the first meeting convened in 2000, which the Club also hosted. The actual 20th anniversary celebration had to be postponed last year due to COVID travel restrictions.
The partner organizations have delivered recommendations to six incoming or returning Administrations and Congresses through the Wildlife for the 21st Century agendas that are the foundation for AWCP policy work. Each year, the coalition has submitted numerous letters to policy makers to outline positions on key issues—430 over the 20 years of work.
The celebration took place during the AWCP annual summer meeting where partners discussed current priorities such as conservation funding, migration corridors, climate and infrastructure policy, forest health, and much more. As the meeting concluded yesterday, Club chief executive officer Tony Schoonen was elected to chair the partners starting in January 2022.
“Since the Boone and Crockett Club first hosted these top hunting-conservation organizations two decades ago, the American Wildlife Conservation Partners has played a critical role on wildlife and land conservation efforts. We had two mottos at the first meeting: ‘We believe in magic,’ and ‘It is amazing what can be accomplished when there are no concerns about who gets the credit,’” commented James F. Arnold, president of the Boone and Crockett Club. “This belief has served as a foundation for AWCP and is critical to our success of working together to support conservation, hunting, trapping, and land stewardship. The Club considers this common cause among today’s leaders as important as any of the accomplishments in the last 130-plus years and we believe this partnership is essential to carry forward wildlife conservation policy.”
By 2000, the sporting conservation community recognized that America’s hunting traditions were being challenged and pulled in multiple directions by many forces. In spite of great successes in restoring wildlife—especially game species—over the past 100 years, the changing social landscape made clear the necessity of facilitating a new federation of hunter/conservationist organizations seeking a common national agenda for wildlife. This would require building unity among wildlife organizations and increasing their collective effectiveness. Club members saw that a conservation partners’ summit would advance these ends and extend the great conservation legacy begun by Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, and other visionary conservationists in 1887. That summit 20 years ago led to the founding of AWCP.
Since that first meeting, AWCP organizations have continued to meet at least twice a year to discuss action items to improve conservation policy and have shared those policy priorities through Wildlife for the 21st Century and letters that outline policy positions. Today, AWCP is made up of 50 organizations that represent the interests of America’s millions of dedicated hunter-conservationists, professional wildlife and natural resource managers, outdoor recreation users, conservation educators, and wildlife scientists. Recently passed laws like the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, the Great American Outdoors Act, and the American Conservation Enhancement Act are just a few of the accomplishments that can be directly linked to AWCP policy efforts.
“We are honored to host the American Wildlife Conservation Partners as we all celebrate our great accomplishments over the last two decades,” Schoonen said. “We continue to believe in the magic that can happen when we work together as a hunting conservation community and I look forward to chairing AWCP in the coming year as we work to address the challenges that are facing all of us who care about wildlife and wild places.”