National Wildlife Refuge System

Andrew French: Federal Land Manager of the Year

Andrew French
Andrew French, project leader at Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, is the 2012 Federal Land Manager of the Year.
Credit: USFWS

Andrew French: Federal Land Manager of the Year

The 2012 Take Pride in America Federal Land Manager of the Year is Andrew French, project leader at Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge (CT, MA, NH, VT).  French is being honored his leadership, determination and creativity.

The refuge lies within the Connecticut River watershed, which is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna. The watershed encompasses includes communities in which approximately 2.16 million people reside.  Through his close collaborations with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff and partners, French has added about a thousand acres per year to the refuge. He uses protected refuge land to connect other public and private conservations, form partnerships and recruit volunteers on a large landscape basis. 

Moose roam in the Nulhegan Basin unit of Silvio O. Conte Refuge, VT
Credit: David Govatski

Volunteers and Friends are a vital part of the refuge and the value of their participation includes conservation, education, recreation, programming, outreach, research, monitoring, and maintenance activities.  This at times can be a daunting task on a refuge that includes 25 separate units spread over approximately 400 miles. 

Connecticut River First National Blueway
French worked with the Friends of Silvio O. Conte to develop the Connecticut River Watershed Blueway-Actions and Stewardship proposal which attracted national attention.  On May 24, 2012, the Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3321 creating the National Blueway System and later that day designated the Connecticut River and the watershed as the first National Blueway in the nation; it is being used as a model for the development of the National Blueway System.

Inland Marsh
The Watershed on Wheels (WoW) Express travels throughout the Connecticut River watershed.
Credit: USFWS
Charged with landscape-wide mandates and the need to be relevant to an ever-changing human demographic, the refuge developed and deployed the Watershed on Wheels (WoW) Express.  French needed an innovative way to connect with the people throughout the watershed. As a result, he spearheaded the effort to design and create a mobile immersion experience which allows the refuge to take the “show on the road” to rural and urban destinations throughout the Connecticut River watershed.  The WoW Express goes to schools, fairs, summer camps, and special events in the Connecticut River Valley promoting outreach, education and relevancy to the American public.  In 2011, approximately 25,000 students and visitors were introduced to the Service, the National Wildlife Refuge System, the refuge and the Connecticut Watershed. Video

In an effort to respond to the threat of invasive species, French helped create Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas in the Connecticut River watershed.  By connecting partners and volunteers who are trained and motivated to look at the invasive species issue from a landscape perspective with those working on-the-ground at the local level, the refuge is able to discover new invaders before they become established.


Last updated: October 9, 2012