From June 23 – 26, the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA) hosted its 86th Directors’ Meeting at Maumee Bay State Park and Convention Center in Oregon, Ohio.
This annual meeting brings together the directors of the state fish and wildlife management agencies from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, along with federal agency officials and conservation partners. Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) Upper Midwestern States Manager Nick Buggia and Lower Midwestern States Coordinator Kent Keene were also in attendance.
The MAFWA Directors’ Meeting is a unique opportunity for directors to communicate with each other and the sportsmen’s conservation community regarding topics that are relevant in each state and throughout the region. Discussions included the status of Lake Erie’s walleye fishery, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management, the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill Conservation Title, and current recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) efforts.
“MAFWA’s mission is to be a strong conduit for fish and wildlife agencies to share information and initiate action on conservation issues in the Midwest,” said Missouri Department of Conservation Director and MAFWA Executive Committee Member Sara Parker Pauley. “We definitely accomplished that last week in Ohio. It’s so encouraging to see agency directors and staff come together to tackle big issues, share new ideas, and find common ground on a path forward to positively benefit both our resources and our citizens.”
“I think the MAFWA Conference was very successful,” said South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks Secretary and MAFWA Executive Committee President Kelly Hepler. “We had either the director or their deputy from every member state. We had productive conversations on many of the significant challenges and opportunities facing state agencies such as CWD and R3. We also committed to funding the Midwest Landscape Initiative which is a model for collaborative conservation research between our federal partners and NGOs. I continue to be impressed by the level of professionalism exhibited by the conference attendees.”
In addition to the discussions and presentations heard at the meeting, participants had the opportunity to tour Winous Point Shooting Club, the oldest duck hunting club in the United States. The tour included information on the sporting and conservation heritage of the shooting club, as well as the Winous Point Marsh Conservancy, a non-profit conservation organization created by the club to conduct marsh management and research along the coast of Lake Erie. Participants were also able to tour and enjoy Howard Marsh Metropark, a 1,000-acre agricultural field near Toledo that has been restored to include 571 acres of wetland and 116 acres of upland habitat.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?