Wildlife managers routinely possess the know-how to enhance ecological conditions, but they all too often face financial constraints to implementing those best practices. Significant belt-tightening has become the norm for wildlife agencies and conservation non-profits in recent years, especially since the 2008 recession and the era of partisan gridlock in Washington. Declining budgets have made proactive conservation measures increasingly difficult, irrespective of recent, impressive advances in the science of wildlife management. To make matters worse, environmental stressors due to human population growth, habitat degradation, and climate change are steadily stacking the deck against optimum results and foreclosing otherwise obtainable opportunities at alarming rates.
There are, however, notable exceptions to the negative fiscal trends impacting wildlife management in which a veritable gusher of funding arises to empower wildlife management within certain regional biomes of extraordinary importance. The $1 billion criminal and civil settlements arising from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill is one such example. Another is the combined $28 billion in Deepwater Horizon fines from BP and responsible parties in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill that demonstrates a current case of wildlife managers, cooperating NGOs, and stakeholders being unbound by normal monetary constraints. While both of the above examples derive from tragedies no one wishes to see repeated, the lessons learned in their aftermath offer vivid showcases of modern wildlife management at its best.
This session will feature a retrospective look into what worked in Alaska in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez and a preview of even larger-scale Gulf of Mexico ecosystem restoration opportunities that are now moving into high gear.