MISSOULA, Mont. — What would America's greatest conservation hero, Theodore Roosevelt, think of the upcoming White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy?
Would Roosevelt be proud of conservation today?
"I'm certain that he'd be beaming," says Lowell E. Baier, president of Boone and Crockett Club, the organization that Roosevelt founded in 1887 to guide wildlife restoration and management.
Boone and Crockett Club may be the only entity — other than Roosevelt himself — with a powerful legacy in the Oct. 1-3 conference in Reno, Nev. The event marks only the second time in American history that the White House has formally convened a major conference on conservation. The first was 100 years ago during Roosevelt's second term. Boone and Crockett Club members were instrumental in White House conferences both then and now.
Baier explained, "In 1908, Boone and Crockett Club members like Gifford Pinchot and George Bird Grinnell helped Roosevelt and White House conferees understand and begin to address the toughest conservation issues of their day."
Headliners included decimated wildlife populations and unmitigated abuse of natural resources. The first White House conference elevated these issues to the highest levels of national attention and resulted in new unity among outdoor interests, programs for water, forest, land and mineral conservation, and a strong public consciousness of the outdoors.
A century later, America's richness of wildlife, resources and recreational opportunities are the envy of the world — a fact that would surely give Roosevelt a satisfied grin.
"Roosevelt would be pleased to see his conservation movement taking on today's issues," said Baier. "The names behind the scenes are different now, of course. But I believe history will remember Boone and Crockett Club members like Robert Model, Steve Mealy, Jeff Crane and many others. Their influence in pulling together a second White House conference with 40 diverse conservation organizations, federal officials, a bipartisan group of Congressional members and state governors is truly remarkable."
The agenda for the 2008 White House conference includes vital topics such as perpetuating and strengthening the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Without input, funding and participation by hunters, history's most successful conservation system would simply collapse. The upcoming conference is an opportunity to guarantee its future, said Baier.
Other important topics will include:
Management of wildlife and habitat at state, tribal and federal levels.
Ensuring dependable funding for wildlife conservation.
Perpetuating hunter traditions through education, recruitment and retention.
Maintaining access to public and private lands.
Coordinating oil and gas development and wildlife conservation.
Impacts of climate change on wildlife.
The goal is to establish a 10-year plan to improve wildlife conservation and boost hunting opportunity on public lands. Results are expected to shape the future of outdoor traditions — no matter who is in the White House or controlling Congress.
"That's the kind of visionary thinking that would make Roosevelt proud," said Baier.
About the Boone and Crockett Club
Founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, Boone and Crockett Club promotes guardianship and visionary management of big game and associated wildlife in North America. The club maintains the highest standards of fair-chase sportsmanship and habitat stewardship. Member accomplishments include protecting and expanding Yellowstone and establishing Glacier and Denali national parks, founding the National Forest Service, National Park Service and National Wildlife Refuge System, fostering the Pittman-Robertson and Lacey Acts, creating the Federal Duck Stamp program, and developing the cornerstones of modern game laws. Boone and Crockett Club is headquartered in Missoula, Mont. To learn more, visit www.booneandcrockettclub.com.