2020 is coming to an end and despite all of the challenges, you made a difference for wildlife this year. Whether donating to support programs you care about, taking action to let legislators know your opinion on wildlife-friendly legislation, or volunteering at fence projects, the Wyoming Wildlife Federation did not let the foot off the pedal to work on the issues that matter most for wildlife.
As we send off into the New Year, the Federation would like to extend a sincere thank you for being such an integral part of our mission to improve Wyoming’s wildlife, wild places, and outdoor opportunities.
Here’s what happened in 2020 by the numbers…
35 Miles of fence removed, modified, or improved to improve wildlife habitat.
With the addition of habitat coordinator Sam Lockwood to the team, the Wyoming Wildlife Federation doubled down on habitat improvements, largely fence work, to improve wildlife’s movement across the landscape in 2020.
WWF worked with landowners, agencies, and volunteers to modify, remove, or improve 35 miles of fencing in 2020. In Farson, the fence modification made it easy to lift the bottom wire along both sides of Highway 28 and make it easier for pronghorn to cross the busy roadway during the winter months. Along Willow Creek near Pinedale, and in the Shoshone National Forest, volunteers, members of other organizations and agencies helped remove fences impeding easy movement along crucial migration paths.
There will be numerous opportunities to get involved in WWF’s habitat improvement projects, including fence pulls, in 2021. Contact WWF’s Sam Lockwood for more information at [email protected]
130 Students engaged with Wyoming-centered curriculum
Positive experiences outdoors start kids off on a lifetime of recreation, and kids who spend time exploring outside see physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Between a new outdoors curriculum and the Lander Class Outside summer camp, WWF’s Andrea Barbknecht successfully launched the youth outdoors education program in 2020.
WWF partnered with organizations like the Bureau of Land Management, Lander Art Center and Popo Agie Anglers to provide opportunities for youth to explore and build skills during summer day camps in July. These camps included outdoor photography workshops, lessons on “Leave No Trace” ethics, and an art show based on what they found in nature.
When a locally-focused curriculum is coupled with outdoor activities, students have the opportunity to grow into caring citizens with a better understanding of the natural world around them. As a result, WWF has now worked with 8 schools across the state to adapt Wyoming-specific outdoor and nature curricula and looks to expand even further in 2021.
Contact WWF’s Andrea Barbknecht for more information at [email protected]
Hunters for the Hungry Provides 3,245 Meals for Those in Need
The Wyoming Wildlife Federation’s Hunters for the Hungry program was created in an effort to connect hunters and meat processors with charitable food organizations to provide high-quality nutrition to community members in need. This program builds on a foundation of conservation stewards and meat processors who are looking to give back to local communities by sharing the harvest and further cultivating meaningful connections across Wyoming.
Despite challenges presented by the presence of Chronic Wasting Disease on the landscape, WWF was able to round up ____ of quality wild game meals for donation in 2020. A major thank you to all of the processors, donors, and to Bighorn Armory for supporting WWF’s Hunters for the Hungry program.
Contact WWF’s Haley Fitzgerald for more information at [email protected]
5 Migration Corridors Designated or in the Governor’s Designation Process
In February 2020, Governor Mark Gordon signed Executive Order 2020-01, Wyoming Mule Deer and Antelope Migration Corridor Protection. It is the first public policy protecting ungulate migration corridors in the United States. Wyoming Wildlife Federation was closely tied to the development of the Executive Order (EO) and feels it properly balances wildlife protections with stakeholder input while allowing for more flexibility than state statute.
The governor formally designated three critical mule deer migration routes and authorized the formation of local working groups to help guide policy on two others. The Wyoming Wildlife Federation’s board member, David Willms is working on the Platte Valley Mule Deer Migration Corridor. Tune in for the next Platte Valley Working Group public meeting for more information on January 8, 2021.
Contact WWF’s policy director, Joy Bannon for more information at [email protected]
14 Conservation Ambassadors Represent Wyoming Wildlife
While the Conservation Ambassadors have been an integral part of WWF’s voice and representation for two years, WWF brought on Auna Kaufmann in 2020 to help grow the ambassador program. Since coming on with WWF, Auna has enlisted the conservation voice of 4 new ambassadors from the spectrum of Wyoming’s outdoor recreationalist. The new line up of ambassadors includes fishing fanatic Adam Brister from Rock Springs, world cup skier Griff Post from Wilson, Kolten Gregory from Kemmerer, and Maggie Johnson from Laramie.
These ambassadors serve as voices for the local challenges and solutions for wildlife management and outdoor access and opportunities. They also help as the legislative voice of sportsmen during the annual Camo at the Capitol event and Sportsmens Legislative Reception each year.
Contact WWF’s Auna Kaufmann for more information at [email protected]
$3M+ Gained for Wildlife Crossings through the Legislative Process
In a time of tight budgets, Wyoming came together and found creative solutions for funding. Wildlife highway crossings were at center stage for the legislative wildlife work. The Federation and our partners worked hard on behalf of wildlife highway crossings and helped the legislature pass three bills, plus a budget amendment that will raise over $3M for mitigating and minimizing wildlife and roadway collisions.
While the impact of the three bills for wildlife crossings donation opportunities is still unknown, they are expected to be a great boost for the cause. For instance, one establishes a stamp (like the conservation stamp associated with hunting and fishing licenses) that people can purchase. All proceeds go toward wildlife conservation efforts related to the transportation system. It also expands the reach of soliciting voluntary donations beyond the residents of Wyoming.
Contact WWF’s director of government affairs, Jessi Johnson for more information at [email protected]