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    The world is an amazing place. From the first glimmer of sunlight in the morning dawn to the flickering of distant stars above the treetops at night, there is a beauty that evokes understanding and invites exploration. However, for those who wish to tether themselves to the fabric of nature and its calling, there is an enormous responsibility to uphold in terms of its conservation and preservation.


    Conservation vs. Preservation 

    Although they may sound interchangeable, the practices of conservation and preservation are fundamentally different. 

    Conservation represents a strong consideration for the natural resources of the world: water, air, plants, animals, soil. Someone who conserves makes it a priority to protect these resources with sustainable use so that all living things can benefit from their existence throughout time. Preservation, on the other hand, stands for a protection of nature from human influence altogether. For example, certain landmarks, such as national parks, have been established as wildlife preserves within larger national forests that use conservation as their primary philosophy. 

    The dichotomy of conservation and preservation allows outdoor enthusiasts to gain valuable insight into the relationship that both concepts maintain when applied to natural ecosystems. There should always be a balance of give-and-take when assessing the laws of nature and how it will continue to thrive in a grounded state. 

    For an ecosystem to remain stable, aspects of it must remain untouched by human behavior. Rivers must flow naturally to inlets and streams that provide nourishment for wildlife; trees must offer shade and streaks of sunlight for other foliage and insects to reproduce; grasslands need to stay lush and hydrated for animals to graze and roam with the changing seasons. 

    Preservation serves as the right of nature to develop and produce as it should in order for other activities to even become possible, and once certain areas do become accessible to human influences, then the practice of conservation must be upheld to ensure that development is continual. Doing this requires an appreciation for nature that offers something once a resource has been used. A tree is planted for every one that's cut down, bodies of water are cleaned of debris or harmful waste, and only animals that are overly abundant during certain times of the year are harvested. Reciprocity is an important principle to keep in mind, — and hunters play a pivotal role in contributing to that exchange. 

    The Current State of Hunting and Conservation

    While scrolling through your Facebook timeline and Twitter feed, you may come across negative posts that criticize hunters. Although a very small minority of people might act irresponsibly when it comes to hunting and conservation, the majority of today’s hunters in the U.S. actually support a vast array of conservation organizations and initiatives.

    According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Pacific Region (USFWS) hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters are the most influential factors that helped create the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Under these guidelines, the framework instills three principals: 

    • Wildlife is a public trust.
    • Wild places are considered an American birthright.
    • Wildlife species must be managed in a way that creates endless sustainability. 

    Since the late 1800s, this model has led to many laws and regulations that protect wildlife and generate substantial revenue for conservation efforts around the country. Directives, such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act of 1934, and the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 have established strong support in the form of financial aid from outdoor enthusiasts throughout history. In fact, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies states that more than 75% of a state fish and wildlife agency's budget consists of funds provided by hunters and sportsmen. 

    These are the underlying facts that mainstream media refrain from sharing. In order to remove the stigma around hunting, it's best to familiarize yourself with the practices and organizations who ensure that wildlife conservation remains in a healthy state. Institutions like the Sportsmen’s Alliance and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation represent institutions with a strong member base and proactive agenda centered on conservation. They have drawn out clear lines of communication that are extended to hunters of all levels, and they also encourage others to consider hunting as a holistic and morally responsible endeavor. 

    Other organizations, such as the Boone and Crockett Club, Safari Club International, and the National Rifle Association also contribute to the state of conservation throughout the U.S., developing new wildlife conservation acts for different habits and species in need. They also provide educational opportunities for hunters and sportsman to improve their conservation awareness, and accumulate member fees and donations to infuse with the creation of new policies that benefit the sustainability of the environment. 

    All around the world, organizations have come together to safeguard the beauty and abundance of nature that allows hunters and wildlife to thrive. With their various measures in place, over $20.2 billion has been raised for wildlife and habitat conservation, which boasts a promising continuation of success as efforts and management will surely improve with time. 

    stl-logoThrough our own Save The Lifestyle program, we're doing everything we can to educate those who love the outdoors on the value of conservation. Everyone on the ALPS OutdoorZ team takes an active role in teaching others — from the casual day hiker to the veteran Big Game hunter — the values that we believe make a lasting impact on our lifestyle, the outdoor spaces we love to visit, and the wildlife that calls these places home.

    Learn more about how to get involved with our Save the Lifestyle program further down this page.    

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    The Future of Hunting and Conservation

    Unfortunately, a 2016 survey completed by the USFWS reported that the number of hunters taking to the woods has dropped by 2 million over a five year period. The report also indicated that 11.5 million people are actively hunting, but 50 years ago, the number of hunters were exactly twice the amount. In monetary terms, that signifies more than $10 billion in losses over half a century — and numbers are steadily declining each year. The downfall has left wildlife agencies and conservation groups searching for new ways to generate income to sustain environmental efforts, but the uncertainty could also represent the need for experienced hunters to impart some much-needed wisdom on newer generations. 

    For habitats to thrive and remain at steady levels in accordance with Mother Nature, hunters have an ethical responsibility to sustain the foundations of conservation and pass that belief on to others. The past has shown that improper conservation efforts and loose restrictions on hunting can lead to rapid extinctions and environmental catastrophes, so to avoid any long-term issues, there are a few things that hunters of all levels can do to conserve and hunt for the future.

    • On a basic level, all hunters can directly support wildlife conservation efforts by purchasing a hunting or fishing license each year. This money goes directly to state wildlife agencies and spreads support to multiple conservation programs around the country. 
    • Next, you can purchase a Federal Duck Stamp to preserve waterfowl habitats that cover over 6 million acres and contribute to over $750 million of total funds that have all gone to conserving areas in the U.S. since 1934. 

    More than anything, having an appreciation for hunting will present opportunities to make a difference. Too often, hunters are viewed as a burden on nature that depletes its resource, but the fact remains that hunters are actually a direct solution to the problem.

    Conservation Funding Sources

    While hunters and environmentalists may seem to be at odds, both share the same common interests: to preserve the great outdoors and the wildlife that inhabits it.

    This is why wildlife conservation organizations are so important to conservation. No matter your motivation for enjoying the outdoors, sustaining and supporting our outdoor resources is in everyone's best interest. Thanks to the wildlife conservation organizations mentioned here (and many others), we are all able to experience a world of healthy ecosystems, abundant wildlife, and plentiful natural resources.

    Here is a look at some of the top organizations working to sustain our wildlife and natural lands. Please consider supporting these organizations in their conservation efforts.

    The National Wild Turkey Federation 

    Thanks to the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) team of committed volunteers and professional staff, wild turkey numbers have recovered from 1.3 million to an all-time high of nearly 7 million birds since the organization was started in 1973. The NWTF has raised over $488 million through memberships, donations, and educational programs to improve over 17 million acres of natural turkey habitat. The NWTF has committed to generating another $1.2 billion over the next decade to continue the fight to conserve habitat and preserve the turkey population.

    Learn more about the NWTF and its conservation efforts.
    Donate to the NWTF.

    Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

    When it was founded in 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) embarked upon a mission to preserve vital elk habitats and increase total populations across the country. The RMEF accomplishes this through land acquisitions and donations, access and conservation easements, and by funding various population restoration projects. ALPS OutdoorZ is proud to support RMEF in its Access Elk Country Initiative – with this program, the RMEF aims to work with government agencies and private land owners to increase access to prime elk habitat for all hunters.

    Learn more about the RMEF and the Access Elk Country Initiative.
    Donate to the RMEF.

    Delta Waterfowl

    Delta Waterfowl leads the charge to conserve duck habitat, preserve duck populations, and “secure the future of waterfowling in North America.” The organization has implemented numerous duck production programs to increase population numbers, lobbied for policy changes and incentive-based programs to conserve duck habitat and defend hunters’ rights, and has recruited countless new hunters with its First Hunt program.

    Get involved with Delta Waterfowl.

    Sportsmen's Alliance 

    For the past 40 years, the Sportsmen’s Alliance (SA) has been one of the top political advocates for hunting and conservation in the country. The SA created the Sportsmen's Legal Defense Fund, one of the only political entities with the sole purpose of defending hunters’ rights in court. It also created the Families Afield program and the Trailblazer Adventure Program, both highly successful initiatives meant to educate and train inexperienced hunters to become stewards of the practice. Through its programs and political work, it’s easy to see why the SA calls itself "the number one defender of sportsmen across the country."

    Become a member of the Sportsmen’s Alliance.

    Whitetails Unlimited 

    Whitetails Unlimited (WU) was founded in 1982 to support the conservation of whitetail deer and the environments they inhabit. Through its efforts to acquire and improve whitetail habitat, educate hunters on the topic of conservation, and preserve hunting traditions for future generations, WU has raised over $85 million for initiatives that directly conserve populations and improve the habitat of whitetail deer in this country.

    Donate to Whitetails Unlimited.

    Ducks Unlimited

    When the dust bowl drought swept the country and devastated waterfowl populations, a small group of dedicated hunters founded Ducks Unlimited (DU) in 1937 to help restore ducks in their habitats. With 83% of its expenditures going to conservation and education, Ducks Unlimited has become one of the largest and most effective sources of protection for waterfowl and the wetland areas they inhabit.

    Learn more about Ducks Unlimited.

    Donate to Ducks Unlimited.

    How to Get Involved

    To learn more about how you can get involved in conservation efforts, contact any of the organizations listed above or your state wildlife department to request more information.

    Visit our Save The Lifestyle page to learn more about who we are – the ALPS OutdoorZ team is constantly working to sustain the hunting culture by introducing people of all walks to the great outdoors.

    If you want to stay up to date on our Save The Lifestyle programs and educational events, subscribe to our email list below.