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Improving Support for Regional Conservation Efforts in the Region Managed by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Project Information

Principal Investigator: Nils Peterson, NCSU

Proposed Project Completion: July 2023

Implements Science Plan Theme: Adaptation

Lincoln Larson, Kathryn Stevenson, Erin Seekamp (NC State University)
Mallory Martin, Louise Vaughn (US Fish and Wildlife Service)
Paul Armsworth (University of Tennessee – Knoxville)


States in the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) region have faced challenges when trying to develop regional plans or actions for many conservation issues. Leadership in many SEAFWA states is hesitant to approach the topic of climate change at all, let alone engage in multi-state efforts to mitigate climate impacts. Recent Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (SE CASC) supported research surveyed agency directors and supervisory boards, and discovered their primary concerns revolved around agency budgets, “R3” efforts (i.e., to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters and anglers), and public outreach to maintain social relevance. Another project supported by the SE CASC and the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) involved interviewing SECAS participants, and suggested they value the SECAS partnership as an information hub, particularly regarding the Southeast Conservation Blueprint. The SE CASC – SECAS study importantly highlighted a need for SECAS participants to better engage state agency leadership and field biologists working for wildlife agencies in SECAS states.

This project proposes to address the primary gap in knowledge around viability of regional responses to wildlife conservation initiatives by surveying state agency leadership (at the division chief level) and field biologists from across the SEAFWA states. The research team will address three questions. First, this project will measure which elements of wildlife conservation respondents are willing to engage in at a regional level, and how much they are willing to push for a regional response for each element.  Second, this project will ask respondents what assistance is most valuable for developing regional responses. Third, this project will ask participants to list perceived costs (e.g., interfering with long term data collection for indices) and benefits (e.g., leveraging resources across state borders) associated with regional planning for each element.