Department of the Interior

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For Immediate Release:
March 23, 2006
Contact: Hugh Vickery
(202 )208-6416

Norton Names 12 To New Sporting Conservation Council;
Will Advise Interior On Hunting, Wildlife Resource Issues

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton today announced the creation of a new Sporting Conservation Council that will advise the Department of the Interior on resource conservation issues of interest to the hunting community. Norton also named the initial members who will represent various parts of the community.

The council will provide important input in the areas of habitat restoration and protection; the impact of energy development on wildlife resources; forest and rangeland health; hunting access to federal lands; and other issues in which the sporting and conservation community can provide a valuable perspective to resource managers and senior leaders throughout the department.

Norton made the announcement at the annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Columbus. "Dating back to Teddy Roosevelt, hunters have been the pillar of conservation in America, doing more than anyone to conserve wildlife and its habitat," Norton said. "This new advisory council will provide a formal mechanism for the department to benefit from the expertise of sportsmen and -women as well as become aware of their concerns as we develop federal policies."

Norton noted that sportsmen and -women have contributed billions of dollars in license fees, excise taxes and conservation stamp revenues to finance federal and state wildlife conservation efforts, including the expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

"Many hunters also volunteer countless hours for conservation causes and raise additional money for habitat improvements and acquisitions across the country," she said. "The creation of this council recognizes their vital contribution to our nation's conservation ethic. It is a way of institutionalizing the role of sportsmen and -women in advising the decision-making process at Interior."

The panel, whose members will serve two-year terms without compensation, is to meet at least twice a year. Members may recommend policies or programs designed to maintain or restore wetlands, forest and rangeland habitats, as well as policies or programs that promote access to hunting and recreation on federal lands.

The council will also advise the Interior Secretary about wildlife conservation endeavors that benefit hunting and wildlife resources and that encourage partnerships among members of the public, the sportsmen-conservation community, wildlife conservation groups and state and federal governments.

Norton said that a careful appraisal determined that no other entities exist that adequately represent the views of the hunting and conservation communities, and she therefore deemed it worthwhile to create the council under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

Support services for the activities of the council will be provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Council members appointed by Norton include:

  • Robert Model, chairman, Boone and Crockett Club of America, representing big game hunting;
  • Steve Mealey, former forest supervisor and member, Boone and Crockett Club of America, representing the hunting community;
  • Rob Keck, Chief Executive Officer, National Wild Turkey Federation, representing game bird hunting organizations;
  • John Baughman, Executive Director, International Association of Fish and wildlife Agencies, representing state fish and wildlife agencies;
  • Jeff Crane, president, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, representing wildlife conservation organizations;
  • Merle Shepard, Vice President, Safari Club International, representing big game hunting organizations
  • Jim Mosher, Executive Director, North American Grouse Partnership, representing game bird organizations;
  • Peter J. Dart, president and Chief Executive Officer, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, representing big game hunting organizations;
  • Susan Recce, director, Conservation, Wildlife and Natural Resources, National Rifle Association, representing wildlife conservation organizations, and
  • Christine Thomas, Dean and Professor of Resources Management, University of Wisconsin-Stevens point College of Natural Resources, representing the hunting community;
  • Daniel R. Dessecker, senior wildlife biologist, Ruffed Grouse society, representing game bird organizations; and
  • John Tomke, Chairman of the Board of Ducks, Unlimited, Inc., representing game bird hunting organizations.