As the days start getting longer and winter loses its grip on the land, I find my feelings of anticipation grow daily. While fall is my favorite time of year, spring is a very close second — with it comes a renewed anticipation for so many good things on the horizon. Anticipation for our national convention in Nashville, anticipation for the first signs of spring and anticipation for turkey hunting season. This year I am also anxious to see if Congress will tackle the conservation legislation priorities that are important us and to our mission.
Like you, I have followed the partial federal government shutdown and hope that a long-term resolution is found between our President and Congress. I am concerned that this disruption of business within the federal government and the paralyzing impact it has on our contract work in federal forests comes at a time when forests and wildlife need our help the most. I am concerned that it will negatively affect the ability of our federal partners to plan for future work when more work, not less, is needed. And, I am concerned that two coequal branches of our government — the executive and the legislative — are so far apart on major issues.
It is also time to plan for the political season ahead by meeting with new committee leadership in Congress to make sure they are aware of our priorities. Despite the political challenges ahead, we will focus on our priorities and emphasize the need for active forest management, added public access and the removal of barriers to hunting.
At the state level, we will likewise welcome new administrations and apprise them of our priorities. Across the country we could have more than 20 new state agency directors at the helm of our wildlife agencies. I have already met with several of these new directors and several of them will join us in Nashville for our convention. Working together, we have much to accomplish. We gravely need long-term funding for conservation and the great work of our state agencies, but it will take all of us pulling together to be successful.
Despite my concerns, I look to this coming spring with hope. The economy of our country is solid, unemployment is low, and our NWTF events are full of energy and doing well. Our relationships with corporate and agency partners are strong and growing. And, as a conservation organization that continues to successfully meet objectives in achieving its goals, I see renewed focus amongst our staff and volunteers on our tremendous mission. Success breeds greater success! Do we have challenges? Absolutely, but together I have no doubt we will meet those challenges and excel.
My spirits always brighten as the first signs of spring appear. In South Carolina, I already have daffodils blooming in my yard, joining the camellias and Lenten rose. Geese are beginning to pair up and the wood ducks are returning to my pond. Like you, it’s time for me to pattern my turkey gun, pull out the hunting gear and plan a few hunts.
I wish you great anticipation of this spring and all the blessings it has to offer ... great work and great days afield hunting our favorite bird.
— Becky Humphries, NWTF CEO