WASHINGTON, D.C. Bill Taylor, chairman of the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council (SFBPC), is encouraging all members of the Fish Habitat Partners Coalition to recruit one organization or business for the alliance before April 24. That’s the day AFFTA will introduce the coalition’s National Fish Habitat Action Plan to members of Congress and officials with the Bush Administration during the annual Congressional Casting Call (see “Casting Call for Today’s Leaders and Tomorrow’s“).
The SFBPC is spearheading the partners coalition membership drive, and the goal is to double the coalition’s membership. Currently, there are more 382 organizations that are members of the partnership. With an increased membership, coalition leaders are hoping to show that the action plan has wide support among businesses, grassroots conservation organizations and individuals, and that these members are willing to put the plan into effect.
The National Fish Habitat Action Plan is an effort to focus national attention and resources on common fisheries priorities set at the local and regional levels. While the plan is national in scope, it harnesses the energy, expertise and power of existing partnerships between state and federal agencies, conservation organizations and related industries. Fish Habitat Partnerships, the plan’s action arm, will be established voluntarily by willing partners and stakeholders to address local, regional, and national fish habitat needs through on-the-ground projects. In time, this network of partnerships will improve the state of fish and fish habitats on all levels across the country. If you’d like to support the NFHAP, here are three things you can do right now:
1) Join or recruit members for the Partners Coalition. The coalition consists of local, state and national organizations, government agencies and businesses that stand behind the action plan. By joining, you can participate fully as the National Fish Habitat Action Plan is put into action. Sign up to join the Partners Coalition at www.fishhabitat.org.
2) Investigate opportunities to support local freshwater, estuarine, and marine projects in your state.
Existing partnerships are already underway. Local efforts such as the Western Native Trout Initiative, Southeastern Aquatic Resources Partnership, Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, Matanuska Watershed Partnership and Driftless Area Partnership may provide opportunities for you to contribute on the ground now. In addition, other local projects are developing that will foster additional grassroots efforts in key watersheds throughout the country. Your state fish and wildlife agency leaders know about this initiative and can inform you of local fishery needs and how you can help. Take the time to find out how you can be a catalyst at the local level through involvement with state agency priorities, local watershed councils and other partnerships.
3) Be prepared to support Fish Habitat Partnerships
A long-term goal of the action plan is to use and leverage existing funding more effectively and increase funding for Fish Habitat Partnerships nationwide. Already the effort has resulted in a Congressional appropriation of $1 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for fiscal year 2006 to be expended primarily for on the ground National Fish Habitat Initiative projects and to support the development of the Action Plan and a Presidential budget request to Congress for $3 million more in fiscal year 2007. Additionally, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has initiated a fundraising drive to support National Fish Habitat Action Plan projects. To find out more, visit www.morefish.org. For more information about the Fish Habitat Partners Coalition, contact Doug Hobbs (703-358-2336; firstname.lastname@example.org).