These values have always been important to the NWTF and have always been evident in all of our conservation and hunting heritage work, but their relevance and importance is significant as we move forward with our mission in the post restoration era.
The NWTF is not only wrapping up its tremendous Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative, but we are nearing our 50th anniversary. Both of these milestones are a cause for celebration (and indeed we will celebrate). However, nearly 50 years of wild turkey conservation and the success from our Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative have provided the perfect springboard for the organization to amplify its mission to unprecedented heights. This is why we are expanding our efforts by honing in on our Four Shared Values, allowing the NWTF’s partners and volunteers to increase the scope of our work while staying true to the NWTF mission.
By identifying these values that we share with so many like-minded organizations, agencies, companies and nearly all Americans for that matter, we can mutually benefit each other in our efforts, empowering the NWTF to conserve the wild turkey and our preserve hunting heritage into perpetuity.
Water is the lifeblood for all living things on planet Earth, and as many turkey hunters know, if there is water nearby, so are turkeys. While water availability is crucial for wild turkeys, it is valuable for all wildlife and especially human communities. Wildfires, disrupted floodplains, unmanaged forests, a changing climate — there are numerous reasons why we are seeing water quality and availability diminish. Luckily, much of the conservation work the NWTF and its partners deliver not only benefits wild turkeys, but it creates healthier forests, which in turn create healthier watersheds, creating cleaner and more available water.
When we manage a forest for wild turkey habitat, we are also increasing the overall viable habitat for all wildlife. Scientifically backed forest management is more crucial now than ever. Decades of unmanaged forests have resulted in overly dense conditions, monocultures and invasive species, causing poor habitat and resulting in severe ramifications, such as catastrophic wildfires and fragmented habitat. A managed forest, on the other hand, increases the overall habitat and biodiversity while making the managed area more resilient to catastrophic wildfires.
Americans who want to live amidst nature should be able to do so without the worry of catastrophic wildfire, flash flooding or debris flow events. Increasingly, these events are negatively impacting nearby communities. This, too, is the result of unmanaged forests, particularly in the wildland-urban interface [areas where forests meet human communities]. The NWTF has joined forces with many traditional and non-traditional partners and agencies to manage these areas in the wildland-urban interface, protecting these communities while also increasing viable wildlife habitat.
At the NWTF, we know the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation to be the preeminent mode to conserve our natural resources, and we understand the important interplay between hunters and conservation. A deep sense of reverence for conservation is awake in the soul of the American hunter, and the more we can provide access and opportunities, the more we can deliver and amplify our conservation mission.
However, there are many other groups — such as mountain bikers, whitewater rafters, anglers, bird watchers and so many more — that cherish our natural resources as we do. By creating robust recreational opportunities for hunters and all outdoors enthusiasts, we provide more opportunities for collaboration, shared investment and ultimately a farther-reaching conservation impact on the landscape and ability to share our outdoors lifestyle.
These Four Shared Values are integral with all aspects of the NWTF mission, but they touch on so many other areas of our everyday life that, too, make the world a better place. By defining and sharing our Four Shared Values, we are able to work with more partners who, too, care deeply about these values and greatly bolster our mission to conserve the wild turkey and preserve our hunting heritage.