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Wyoming Governor Matt Mead launched the Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative in 2015 in his capacity as Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA).  Since then, the Initiative has helped states share best practices in species management; promoted and elevated the role of states in species conservation efforts; and explored how to improve the efficacy of the Endangered Species Act. The Initiative has entered its second year, during which WGA will host a series of Work Sessions and Webinars to expand on the bipartisan dialogue and refine key themes identified in year one. To support the Initiative, please contact WGA Director of Development Sarah Olsen at 720.897.4540.

Voluntary Species Conservation Incentives and Collaboration

This webinar highlighted the recovery of Black-footed Ferret in Colorado and Wyoming. The panel was moderated by Terry Fankhauser, Executive Vice President of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. The panelists: Todd Heward, Wyoming Rancher; Pete Gober, Black-footed Ferret Recovery Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Ken Morgan, Private Lands Program Manager, Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Tom Dougherty, Western Division Staff Director, retired, National Wildlife Federation; John Emmerich, Deputy Director, retired, Wyoming Game and Fish.

Critical Habitat and Invasive Species

This webinar examined how critical habitat designations are influenced by invasive species. The panel was moderated by Chuck Bonham, Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The panelists: Dr. David Sweet, Yellowstone Lake Special Project Manager, Wyoming Trout Unlimited; Matt Morrison, Chief Executive Officer, Pacific  Northwest Economic Region; Chris Crookshanks, Native Aquatics Staff Specialist, Nevada Department of Wildlife.

The Role of Conflict and Litigation in the Endangered Species Act

This webinar explored how litigation shapes the implementation of the Endangered Species Act and affects species conservation efforts. The panel was moderated by Michael Brennan, Director of the Wildlife Conservation and Mitigation Program at Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources. The panelists: John Leshy, Emeritus Professor, U.C. Hastings College of the Law, and Solicitor of the Interior Department, 1993-2001; Lisa Reynolds, Assistant Attorney General, State of Colorado; Jason Rylander, Senior Staff Attorney, Defenders of Wildlife; Douglas Wheeler, Partner, Hogan Lovells LLP.

Multi-Species Management and Desert Landscapes

This webinar used desert ecosystems to examine best practices for landscape-level species management, as well as the challenges of managing species with large habitat ranges. The panel was moderated by Matthew McKinney, Director, Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy, University of Montana. The panelists: Jim deVos, Assistant Director, Wildlife Management, Arizona Game and Fish Department; Bill McDonald, Executive Director, Malpai Borderlands Group; Alexa Sandoval, Director, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish; John Swett, Manager, Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program.

Empowering Private Landowner Conservation

This webinar highlighted the importance of private land in species conservation efforts, innovative ways to address conservation finance, and the incentives that work for private landowners. The panel was moderated by Chris West, Director, Rocky Mountain Regional Office of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The panelists: Amos Eno, Executive Director/President, Resources First Foundation; Jeff Morgheim, Founder and Principal, Edge Strategic Consulting, LLC; Lesli Allison, Executive Director, Western Landowners Alliance.

Collaborative Species Conservation in the Southeast

This webinar examined the role of trust and communication in species conservation and the collective work of state, federal and industry partners to ensure the conservation of numerous species endemic to the southeastern U.S. The panel was moderated by Cindy Dohner, Southeast Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The panelists: Jimmy Bullock, Senior Vice President, Forest Sustainability, Resource Management Service, LLC.; Todd Ewing, Supervisor, Aquatic Wildlife Diversity Program, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Mike Harris, At-Risk Species Coordinator, Southeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Gordon Myers, Executive Director, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Dr. Salem Saloom, Alabama landowner; Nick Wiley, Executive Director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Get Involved with the Initiative

Learn more about opportunities to attend regional workshops and sponsor the Chairman's Initiative by contacting WGA at 303-623-9378 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..