PERSONAL SACRIFICE; FINALLY STABILITY
With election of David Tazik as President, NMFWA demonstrated the growing maturity of a seasoned organization. Gone were days when the membership would actively and overtly limit Association leadership to only those personnel directly responsible for management programs on individual installations. As a dedicated military natural resource manager and career Corps of Engineers (CSU, CERL, and WES) professional, Dr. Dave Tazik was to set the standard for future and enhanced leadership involvement in NMFWA by personnel from other than the traditional Installation structure.
President Tazik was relentless in his pursuit of continued resource stewardship on DoD lands. He engaged and challenged the BOD to increase their involvement and demonstrate individual responsibility for appropriate actions. As a prolific and astute writer, Tazik continued where he left off as the previous Chair of the Government Affairs Committee and authored many forms of correspondence designed to both inform and challenge DoD leaders, Congress, and the public of our common resource stewardship mandates and statutory responsibilities.
Taskmaster Dave personally worked with each Board committee to refine, improve, and implement continuous improvement strategies designed to enhance overall communication and effective results. The Government Affairs Committee continued as one principal cornerstone of this effort by maintaining a very high level of involvement in issues of Association priority and significance. As in past years, issues regarding DoD compliance with the Sikes Act and continued efforts to contract out natural resource management on DoD lands in overt violation of federal law occupied considerable time and effort.
While the Association elected to not directly participate as an organization in any legal action against DoD or the Service branches, appropriate personal efforts by the membership to support and assist affected individuals remained overtly tangible on several levels.
Stewardship of the public trust and sustainment of the military training mission directly and inherently tied to that resource base has always been the foundational basis for Association action. Professional conscience, credibility, and capability remained the driving force that forwarded this stewardship ethic by the dedicated professional civil servant membership of NMFWA. While organizational efforts remained consistent, individual efforts achieved a status previously considered as unattainable.
In an undeniably selfless act, Wanda Deal and Mark Hagan personally filed suit against the Secretary of the Air Force for violation of the Sikes Act resulting in the “authorized” contracting out of all natural resource management functions and related personnel on Edwards Air Force Base. With assistance of PEER, which was to later join in the suit, these individuals not only placed their personal credibility and careers in jeopardy but also and collectively “drew the line in the sand” for all DoD professional natural resource managers dedicated to stewardship of the public trust and sustainment of the military training mission. Deal and Hagan were both to be recognized during the 2001 annual meeting with receipt of the President’s Award for their personal sacrifice and leadership in taking this bold and never before implemented stance against violation of the Sikes Act.
Adjudication of the suit will run the required legal course. Resolution will dictate not only individual career outcomes but also perhaps the very future of DoD’s combined ability to sustain and support continued accomplishment of the military training mission. NMFWA was to remain actively and appropriately engaged.
During August 2000, the NMFWA lost one of its closest friends and supporters when Dr. Laurence Jahn passed away. Dr. Jahn was an avid supporter of the Association for more than 20 years. His personal friendships, demonstrative support, wise counsel, guidance, and at times overt defense of NMFWA never faltered. Because of Dr. Jahn and his long-term leadership involvement with WMI, NWMFA was to accept the gracious offer to join in their annual meeting of the North American Natural Resources Conference as an active participant during 1986. That relationship is currently scheduled to continue thru at least the 2005 annual meeting.
It would require many pages of text in order to elaborate with sufficiently adequate detail to truly comprehend and appreciate the magnitude of Dr. Jahn’s impact to and on behalf of the Association. However, and in his uniquely personal style, Gene Stout, as the primary individual responsible for establishment and sustained development of our relationship with both Larry and WMI, prepared a most fitting tribute to Dr. Jahn, which was published in the October 2000 edition of The FAWN. In recognition of Dr. Jahn, the NMWFA BOD unanimously endorsed establishment of the Larry Jahn Memorial Award. Major evaluative criteria for this award are outstanding service or contributions at the national level, involving other agencies/conservation organizations, to benefit natural resource programs and policy on DoD lands from individuals or organizations not directly associated with NMFWA.
Organizational effectiveness of NWFWA standing and special committees had matured to a level previously considered as virtually impossible to achieve given geographical separation of members, primary mission focus, and infrequency of personal opportunities to meet. However, NMFWA was to take full advantage of technological advances provided by several forms of electronic communication and continued to conduct necessary business and enhance overall interaction with our membership, partners, the DoD Command structure, and the general public.
Timely and effective communication of available information remained essential for mission success. The NMFWA web site continued to improve in overall structure and content and was found to be receiving some 1,500 hits on a monthly average. Additionally, the private business enterprise of Gene Stout & Associates, continued to utilize its organizational web-site to publish information and editorial comment on various issues considered as inherently relevant to DoD resource managers as well.
Each committee, in its individual and collective rights, performed in a most outstanding manor. The professionalism and dedication of everyone involved remained, without qualification, most humbling. Efforts and information exchange generated by committee membership served interests of NMFWA and resource stewardship very well. Perhaps the most critical and active of these included Newsletter, Government Affairs, Law Enforcement, Resolutions, Awards, Reserve Account, and Nominations committees. Each of these standing and special committees was charged with critical missions relative specific aspects of NMFWA areas of interest and involvement. The sheer volume of timely information, consistent dedication, and instruction provided is adequate testimony of their significance and overall continued mission relevance.
Over the years NMFWA had consistently petitioned DoD to become more actively involved in the provision of appropriate natural resource law enforcement related training for installation resource managers. While higher headquarters interest was demonstrated at various levels, development of a definitive program did not materialize. NMFWA continued to fill this void by conducting annual law enforcement training for personnel on a rotational basis at various installations. During August 2000 this training was conducted at Fort Campbell, KY and then during May 2001 at Fort Carson, CO. By combining the talents of Special Agents from the USFWS, State Wildlife Officers, Department of Justice, Judge Advocate General Corps, and commissioned installation personnel, course attendees were exposed to both basic and advanced techniques of what they need to know to develop their individual skills and abilities in regard to this required area of resource management performance.
With consistent challenges afforded by continuing A-76 efforts within various branches of DoD and renewed efforts by some members of the Services and federal bureaucracy to overtly and short-sighted minimize resource protections afforded by various Laws of the Land (i.e., ESA, NEPA, Sikes Act), NMFWA and President Tazik justifiably felt somewhat frustrated. However while frustrated, NMFWA did not waver in its convictions and proactively pursued continued sound and professional natural resource management issues designed to sustain both the resource and future military training opportunities.
Leadership is key during periods of enhanced adversity. In every regard and based on whatever qualification, President Tazik met the mission head on and led NMFWA in the appropriate direction necessary to sustain both our collective and organizational credibility and critical purpose of providing for sound natural resource management on all DoD lands in support of military training.
Don Pitts from USAERDC, CERL assumed the Presidency of NMFWA during the 2001annual meeting in Washington DC. The Association met again in conjunction with WMI and the North American Natural Resources Conference. NMFWA technical sessions were representative of a totally professional endeavor, which has become the rival of many other conferences. Personnel in attendance were afforded the opportunity to participate within technical sessions dealing with Conservation and Management of Carnivores on Military Lands; Feral Animal Impacts on Military Operations; Degraded Streams and Riparian Management; Wetlands: Constraints and Opportunities; Threatened and Endangered Species Management and Research and Government Affairs “Goes to Court.”
A spin off of efforts previously championed by committees and several previous NMFWA Presidents remained the creation of subject-specific, focused Working Groups. NMFWA had routinely deployed sub-committees to focus on specific requirements. However, Working Groups were somewhat different in that they had an educational focus designed to improve existing management practice. Using very successful results achieved first by the Herpetology (Jim Beemer/Jay Rubinoff) and then Invasive Species (Kim Mello) working groups as a baseline, Chester Martin organized and the membership subsequently chartered the Bat Working Group in 2002.
President Pitts continued where his predecessor left off and continued the past practice of maintaining strong committee leadership and mission focus. The Government Affairs Committee remained the center of activity and continuous involvement with the resurgence of A-76 related issues throughout DoD. The Association had maintained strong ties with several congressional leaders over the years dealing with the Sikes Act and entire outsourcing issue. Congressman Don Young from Alaska remained a strong alley and was asked to once again champion the cause.
Armed with the recently passed NMFWA resolution dealing with Military Downsizing and an “Action Fund” to support necessary actions, President Pitts went to work restating the Association position to members of Congress, the DoD chain of command, our partners within other conservation-related organizations, and the general public. As President Pitts would state, “...we are dedicated to the military mission we so closely support, just as we are dedicated to the natural resources we are also called upon to protect and enhance...” NMFWA would continue to serve this dual and interrelated purpose well, and as no one else better could.
While outsourcing issues consumed most of the Associations’ focus, NMFWA members continued to be actively engaged and participate in national and regional meetings with other activities and interest groups. Of primary note remained TWS and AFS. As was customary since initiation of a separate annual meeting during 1993, available Association members conducted a non-voting special NMFWA general business meeting in conjunction with the TWS meeting. In addition to providing a tangible meeting opportunity, continued involvement with these resource groups sustained our respective individual and organizational recognition as natural resource management professionals.
As attention turned to the 2002 annual meeting in Dallas, TX, preparation was underway for what was intended to become another series of outstanding technical sessions and consideration of two additional changes to Association By-Laws. NMFWA had already achieved hard-earned respect and maturity of a seasoned organization. While business matters remained a priority, nothing usurped the primary organizational focus of continued resource stewardship and support of the military mission. Challenge is a constant when you work with such a diverse yet focused group as the military. NMFWA had always been up to the challenge, and there was absolutely no reason to believe that we would not remain so.
Good things come to those willing to serve as demonstrated when Jim Beemer from West Point Military Academy, NY assumed the role of President in March 2002. In ten fairly short years, Jim went from being a new DoD employee and NMFWA member through Committee, Director, and Officer positions to become President. With his affable disposition and dedicated resource management focus, Jim used his unique style of leadership to steer the course for the Association.
Jim set several goals for the Association during his tenure as President. Among them was his personal desire to increase visibility of NMFWA and its membership within the professional resource management community. Jim attacked this goal through direct personal organizational involvement, utilization of enhanced communication opportunities, and incorporation of NMFWA business meeting sessions into principally annual meetings of both AFS and TWS. Additionally, he challenged the membership to get involved with the presentation (and publication) of scientific papers and other relevant management information during meetings of these and other similarly situated organizations at chapter, state, regional, and national levels.
ot only did he take advantage of meeting opportunities presented during other venues, under Jim’s leadership, the Board adopted formal procedures for conducting NMFWA business by e-mail. Because of this change, in essence, one week following the close of the Annual meeting, a “virtual” Board meeting is convened, which runs until one week prior to the next Annual meeting.
Additionally, President Beemer did not shy from an opportunity to gain a little national television coverage for the Association as well. Dr. James Kennamer, Senior Vice-President of National Wild Turkey Federation visited West Point, NY to film a segment of NWTF’s television program TURKEY CALL. As a guest during the program, President Beemer was provided the opportunity to put in a plug for NMFWA and our activities. The episode is scheduled to air during the spring of 2003 on TNN Cable station.
By personal example, Jim highly encouraged NMFWA members to pursue individual professional certification with one (or more) of several professional natural resource societies and organizations as a means of not only enhancing individual credibility but also of enhancing organizational involvement, recognition, and outreach. Benefits of certification can simply relate to an individual sense of accomplishment or recognition and acceptance afforded a seasoned management professional. Regardless of motivation, the pursuit of professional certification provides additional opportunities for both NMFWA members and management professionals in other activities to interact and expand mutual beneficial interactions.
Continuing efforts to enhance resource management improvements within DoD, the Management Guidelines for Herptile Species on Military Lands, created by the Herpetology Working Group and adopted as official NMFWA guidelines during Don Pitts’ term were provided to Peter Boice at OSD with the recommendation that they be adopted as official DoD guidelines. These were accepted and posted on the DENIX website in July 2002.
Membership in the Association continued to grow during 2002 and surpassed the 1,000 mark by December. Personnel working for the Army composed approximately 33% of the membership, while the Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and National Guard comprised approximately 40%. other membership was made up of individuals with a “non-DoD” identified affiliation. Approximately 55% considered themselves as voting members.
NMFWA outreach efforts continued to develop both internally through the committee, website, and working group initiatives but also in regard to our involvement and participation with other professional societies and organizations. During 2002 and early months of 2003, NMFWA partnered with the AFS, TWS, Society of American Foresters, DoD Conservation Conference, and NWF to further professional natural resource management initiatives on DoD administered public lands by mutual program interaction and involvement.
A long-standing aspect of NMFWA outreach has been the interaction of individual members with professionals from other organizations and activities. In regard to non-governmental private conservation groups, the most beneficial of those relationships has been best achieved and demonstrated with the NWF. NWF and NMFWA have maintained a very keen and active partnership based upon mutual support and respect for over the last 20 years. A very key component of that relationship has been personal involvement and mentorship of Mr. Thomas Dougherty.
Tom, with his personal affinity for management responsibilities accomplished on DoD lands and as the Special Assistant to the President and CEO of NWF, has provided a direct and tangible conduit to this internationally recognized and influential conservation organization regarding NMFWA. Through direct management involvement, provided testimony, political acumen, and organizational acuity, Tom has remained a valued asset and recognized public spokesperson in the NGO community for continued professional resource stewardship of military lands. In December 2002 Mr. Dougherty retired from NWF, and it is considered as most fitting and appropriate that his many accomplishments and consistent support of NMFWA be recognized and included within these Association Archives.
With the 2003 Annual Meeting in Winston-Salem, NC, NMFWA would celebrate its 20th anniversary as an officially recognized organization. Indeed, the Association had come a long way since its humble and idealistic beginning back in 1983. Long before NMWFA was chartered with a Constitution and Bylaws, professional natural resource managers recognized the need to increase our individual and collective involvement in and recognition for continued natural resource stewardship on DoD lands to sustain both the military mission and those resources upon which that mission so undeniably depends. Through trial, tribulation, and some success, it is believed that thus far we have achieved many of those aspirations first envisioned by our founding members.
While it is important to never rest on one’s laurels, it is equally important at times to reflect on the past as a way of retaining focus on the future. The myriad of challenges facing NMFWA remain constant as they always will when dealing with competing demands of military training, increased encroachment, decreasing carrying capacity, diminished fiscal and personnel resources, political agenda, and maturing organizational structure. If founders of the Association were asked today what they thought of their creation, they would be most pleased of what we have accomplished and look forward with prideful admiration to what the future might bring. Time will tell, but if the NMFWA of the next 20 years is anything like the last 20, many successes are yet to be realized while the constant of continued natural resource stewardship and military mission accomplishment will remain resolute.
President Martin carried on the solid tradition of his predecessors and started his term of office just like the graceful bats he has been researching and championing for many years by echo-locating a target of opportunity when he provided testimony before the Congressional subcommittee considering reauthorization of the Sikes Act within the first weeks of his term in office. Chester focused his efforts on reauthorization of a strong Act incorporating retention of key aspect previously identified by and fought for by the Association, including appropriate funding, completion of Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans, sustainment of in-house professional natural resource management personnel and continued multiple use of DoD lands where consistent with both the mission and security requirements.
Association recommendations were retained in the final revision of the Act basically by default as after debate, reauthorization of the Act was merged into the National Defense Authorization Act for 2004. Our efforts again realized a positive return in that the Sikes Act was not otherwise degraded and thereby remains one of the primary driving forces behind our ability to continue proactive support for DoD management of public lands entrusted to our care.
Support of military operations in Iraq resulted in many diverse challenges for the NMFWA during 2003 and early months of 2004. Not only did several individual members deploy in direct support of various aspects of Operation Iraqi Freedom, but the Association as a whole dealt with continuing challenges associated with renewed “encroachment impact discussions” and DoD leadership efforts to marginalize the overall resource stewardship significance of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Endangered Species Act, and Marine Mammal Protection Act. While all proposed Administration exemptions were not ratified, those that were set the stage for future attempts to further limit authority of these significant legislative requirements to facilitate management activities on DoD lands. As President Martin offered, certain provisions amending these Acts “will require installation natural resource management personnel to become even more vigilant to ensure appropriate conservation and management of important habitats for native species.”
Both individually and collectively, while providing for the management of natural resources that sustain the mission at the installation level, the membership of the Association also recognized and championed continued support of the Disabled Sportsmen’s Act of 1998. Several installations continued to successfully deploy programs designed to provide recreational opportunities for individuals with physical access limitations. Additional opportunities have been identified and implemented at many installations as this worthwhile program continues to expand within DoD.
Over years the Association has often found itself at “crossed purposes” with various elements within DoD. The most recent challenge concerned a formal ethics complaint, which eventually involved all of DoD Service branches at various levels. The complaint focused on perceived inappropriate comments within the NMFWA webpage and use of government equipment for private interests, namely information sharing by the Association. President Martin and the Board proactively attacked the challenge and successfully negotiated potential legal pitfalls avoiding any long-term negative impacts. If any relevant measure of organizational success includes operational awareness by those outside of your membership, then the NMFWA has indeed achieved at least one of our objectives.
While we can count on positive attention and involved support of many, unfortunately we have not yet informed and/or attracted all potential individuals and management professionals involved with natural resource management on our installations. Outreach will remain a legitimate challenge and mission objective for the future of this Association.
As NMFWA continues to mature and refine its organizational objectives for early days of its third decade, new challenges will be sure to manifest themselves as surely will opportunities given the inherent professionalism and dedication of this Association to the legitimacy of the mission in which we share and jointly support.
During 2004 the Association once again addressed the challenge of “who could be a voting member of NMFWA.” As in previous years, the debate was lively but much less heated than during past opportunities. Faced with realities of a broader membership base of some 1,100, whose demographics were younger and much more experienced with realities of working side by side with “contracted professional staff, the Association voted overwhelmingly to recognize contracted personnel who work on DoD lands with voting membership in NMFWA. It was the right decision; one whose time had come.
With a broader membership base came new blood, new ideas, new challenges, and additional energy. Unfortunately, given realities of a continuing diminished DoD fiscal resource base, sustainable natural resource management on some installations became of secondary importance. However, NMFWA members once again rose to the challenge and were represented in seven categories of the Secretary of Defense Environmental Excellence Awards program.
The energy and professionalism demonstrated in these efforts manifested themselves within the organizational management of NMFWA as well. Limited resources (time, personnel, and funding) caused many to re-evaluate which organizational training venues were best in which to invest their efforts. Much debate was and will remain in evidence concerning continuing the relationship between WMI and NMFWA versus linking with such other venues as the Joint Services Environmental Management Conference. As President Doc Bailey offered, “…the training that is provided at the NMFWA Conference is instrumental in developing natural resource managers that staffthe installations…,” and as such NMFWA will continue the mission. Regardless, of what the future holds for training opportunities, NMFWA intends to strive to maintain our unique organizational identity and individuality while participating in like-minded and considered beneficial training opportunities offered by others.
In a fitting testimony to the long standing legacy of professional interaction between WMI and the Association, after many years of consideration, NMFWA awarded the first Laurence R. Jahn Award to Dick McCabe, Executive Vice President of WMI. Since 1986 Dick worked hand in hand with Larry Jahn to support what was once a very fledging group of outspoken DoD biologists. He very enthusiastically used his talents, influence, and professional skills to mold NMFWA into a more effective organization and has tirelessly worked to enhance the Association’s presence at both the North American and other professional meetings/conferences. Like Dr. Jahn, Dick has always been there in support of NMFWA, and it is most fitting that he was recognized with NMFWA’s most prestigious award.
The Association had its share of challenges during 2004; just like most organizations. Some were organizational; some operational. We further expanded our involvement in the electronic media age by publishing the Newsletter, expanding the website, and voting and conducting meetings on-line. We got better and faster at conducting the business of the Association, but we also got educated in the world of electronic realities when we got spammed and then attacked by a phantom pornographer. The Association adjusted and continued the mission, always looking forward.
2005 was nothing short of a blur. With continuing efforts in regard to accomplishment of the Global War on Terrorism and Force Protection requirements, operational budgets within DoD continued to be sorely limited. FY05 saw some of the most restrictive operational budget requirements ever experienced. Weekly to no more than monthly allocations coupled with a less than robust budget (less than 50% of requirements) caused many managers to become even more innovative and dig deeper than ever before to support both the training mission and military personnel dependent on those limited natural resources.
Time and time again, NMFWA members rose to the challenge and continued to make a profound difference as exhibited by both individual and installation recognition granted by several activities and organizations to include the USFWS, NWF, The Nature Conservancy, Endangered Species Coalition, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, members of Congress, and the DoD.
President Jim Copeland best summed up reasons for why the membership of NMFWA continues to succeed in spite of BRAC, continued budget cuts, unfunded projects, personnel cuts, encroachment, urban sprawl, and pressures on both the resource and personnel from an ongoing war when he offered that our “perseverance comes from our faith in our mission, hope for the future and love of each other.” As far as many were concerned, Jim fired for effect and nailed the target with the first salvo and more than adequately defined the true professionalism of the membership of NMFWA.
While challenges and opportunities were abundant, the Association continued to enhance individual membership professionalism and hence mission support. In addition to voting to continue meeting in conjunction with WMI at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference through at least the 2007 meeting in Portland, OR, the membership focused on such issues as developing both a Code of Ethics and Certification Program for DoD Land Managers, continued discussions regarding governance changes, and continued the evaluation of involvement with other DoD/NGO training venues.
While efforts regarding future Association governance, the Code of Ethics, and Certification Programs remain under development, the mere consideration of same speak most eloquently for the inherent overall professionalism. They also demonstrate irrefutable foresight and overt leadership regarding the critical involvement of NMFWA in challenges, which we will continue to face as additional training missions are necessarily forced upon a limited resource base. Whether it was limited budgets, enhanced missions, less personnel, or hurricanes, NMFWA personnel remained at the forefront of the challenge and continued to successfully accomplish the mission.
2006 found President Copeland and NMFWA continuing to wrestle with the tenants of a professional certification program. Dozens of possible titles for the certification program were considered, but the working committee generally accepted “Certified Military Lands Manager.” Deciding on a title was one thing, but development of specifics for the certification program received considerable debate ranging from years of experience, scientific disciplines, continuing education, and professional organization involvement to development of a code of ethics. President Copeland recognized that managing natural resources on military installations, where we must accommodate increasing military training on a shrinking land base while at the same time recovering species and conserving habitat, is fraught with conflicts and compromises that can leave the manager caught on the horns of moral dilemmas. As such, he challenged all of the NMFWA membership to carefully consider how our “professional, moral and ethical compass” should be constructed.
In addition to these salient issues, the Association continued to enhance our professional standing and overall resource management consideration with the creation of a Bat Working Group lead by Chester Martin. Once again, the membership debated the efficacy of “going It alone” and leaving our long standing association with WMI. Like it or not, this issue and the passionate discussion that it causes to this date is indicative of a good thing as it reflects highly on the continuing growth, maturity, and demonstration of professionalism by the membership and of the Association as a whole. After some fevered debate (read “every word was cussed and discussed”) and conscious reflection concerning the battles, benefits, opportunities, costs, and alternatives, it was determined to continue our engagement, sponsorship, and association with WMI through the 2015 Annual Meeting.
Demonstrative of the Association’s continuing growth and development, over the years membership requirements have continued to change to appropriately reflect the expanse of scientific disciplines, agencies, organizations, and individuals charged with natural resource responsibilities on Defense lands. Perhaps indicative of recognition that we are all getting older, during 2007 the Bylaws were amended to allow retired members the opportunity to vote. I [Tom Warren] for one appreciate this consideration more than I should probably acknowledge……
In addition to these and other operational considerations, under President Rhys Evans’ leadership and the involvement of his entire Board of Directors, the NMFWA membership approved and implemented the Certified Military Natural Resource Professional Certification Program. Certification will provide a means by which individuals engaged in Defense conservation activities may establish, validate, and obtain recognition of their professional credentials.
Additionally and in a way indicative of this Certification success, both content and relevancy of our Technical Sessions have been significantlyexpanded in both form and content, dealing with major issues associated with the “natural infrastructure” of our installations. Being an astute student of history, Rhys was quick to remind the membership of ‘where we came from, how we got to where we are today’ and challenged everyone to “continue upping the ante” on our professionalism and engagement both within and outside of the Association. Indeed wise counsel, as without engagement to include specifically with those in the training and testing community, this Association will fail to remain relevant.
One thing that has greatly impressed me [TW] over the course of my tenure as the Achieves Chair has been the increasing recognition of this Association’s history by incoming Presidents. While perhaps it relates to realizing that you are soon to become a member of that special “Class of Past Somethings,” It is more reflective of the amount of work one has done to get to that position of affirmative leadership, individually and even more importantly from and by the Association as a whole.
During 2008, President Terry Bashore expanded upon that theme in recognition of our 25th anniversary. As Terry expressed, our first 25-years were spent establishing NMFWA as a highly recognizable professional organization that demands respect from other natural resource professionals. Additionally, he believed that NMFWA would continue to be the go-to organization for managing resources on DoD installations while one of our primary challenges would be to demonstrate to military mission operators that NMFWA and it members are also the go-to folks to maintain that military readiness. There remains no question that carrying out the military mission while sustaining the natural environment will be no easy task. As DoD continues to transform, so must our natural resource management programs.
While pre-1990s natural resource management largely provided for hunting/fishing, grazing, and commercial forestry opportunities, the Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans of today focus on managing entire and interrelated ecosystems. President Bashore summed up our future management requirements very well by stating that, “future natural resource managers may not function as range operation support, but they will in fact become range operators, whereby they develop weapon platform training environments. They will use their training to manage the environment so that not only is there no net loss of the capacity of the ranges to support the mission, but also so that the natural infrastructure is sustained.”
Given the success of this Association and the foresight demonstrated by the more recently minted Past Presidents, one has to wonder if not at least some of the whimsical predictions offered by Past President Stout at our 20th meeting regarding our 40th anniversary might not actual have some basis in fact.
Having previously served as the long time Newsletter Editor and Membership Committee Chair, newly elected President Mike Passmore continued with his intent to gain additional membership through encouraging a wider exposure of NMFWA to both military installations and associated federal resource agencies during 2008-09. This initiative remained consistent with the messages that he had been passionately expressing ever since his earliest days with the Association beginning in the mid-1980s. Given that he was the principal behind the ever-improving and evolving FAWN for so many years, perhaps no one had remained as committed to sharing the message of professional resource management of Defense lands as Mike Passmore. The FAWN of today has indeed come a very long ways since those earliest Smith Corona-typed/hand crank copied versions and is truly indicative of a first class professional publication that is utilized as source material by both our membership and others within the professional resource management community.
While continuing with outreach activities and internally expanding opportunities to engage with the Board of Directors through the addition of two Directors for the Central Region, the Association remained engaged in activities regarding potential Sikes Act amendments. Once again, NMFWA achieved success since amendments to the Sikes Act will bring beneficial change to many installations now that management can be accomplished through inter-agency Cooperative Agreements and Conservation Banking Programs.
Additionally, the recent push to reduce on-site contractors may boost the long sought federal control of natural resource management on installations, as envisioned by the Sikes Act. Once again, the message that membership in NMFWA and participation in decisions and activities through the Board or at the training sessions remained critical to continued growth of the Association. As goes the continued growth and engagement of the Association, so will remain our influence on relevant national conservation issues.
The election of President Chris Eberly in March 2009 demonstrated an echelon of maturity not previously demonstrated within NMFWA as he became the first “contractor” to achieve that leadership position. As the DoD Partners In-Flight Coordinator, President Eberly was no mere contractor as he very successfully held and professionally led that mission responsibility since 1998. In doing so, Chris virtually single handily furthered the demonstration of DoD’s leadership in neo-tropical bird conservation and stewardship within both the public and other responsible national/international conservation organizations and activities.
While the Association rightfully reflected on successes of the past, we continued outreach both internally and externally. Professional relationships with WMI and TWS were re-affirmed and enhanced as was evidenced by President Eberly and others following in the path charted by Rhys Evans by accepting speaking opportunities with various organizations to include the Georgia Chapter of TWS. Some things never change, and our continued willingness to engage with colleagues outside of the “DoD perimeter wire” presented both challenges and targets of opportunity for some.
Regardless on which side of that aisle someone found themselves, one obvious reality was that NMFWA was indeed a respected and recognized professional organization whose membership, while understanding who they worked for, retained the passion and commitment to both the resource and military mission that depended on same to do the right things. To selectively paraphrase a shared conversation between President Eberly and Past President Stout, “NMFWA truly is representative of Defense conservation professionals. All of us should indeed be proud of what we have become. And we continue to advance the conservation and management of natural resources on military lands that always have and always will support the training mission.”