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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

Finding Inspiration at the End of a Long Week

Last week was a bruising week of meetings and travel with an inspiring day at the end. 

Mondays are always full with meetings. This Monday, I met with DOI senior political staff; FWS Director's staff; and others to review the previous week, catch up from the weekend, and prepare for the week to come.   

After an evening flight to Las Vegas, on Tuesday morning I joined the NRCS Chief and USFS Deputy Chief in addressing the annual conference of the National Association of Conservation Districts. 

I spent a short day on the ground, but by nightfall, I was already flying back home for work the next day. 

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A River of Grass

I'm finishing up a great trip to Florida this week. Tuesday morning, I was with Secretary Salazar and Senator Bill Nelson, along the Tamiami Trail.

No, it's not actually a trail.

It's basically a fill causeway through the heart of the Everglades that was constructed in the early 1900s, connecting Tampa and Miami; hence "Tamiami."

It constricts water flow through the Everglades, and a major part of the Everglades restoration is a project to elevate a 1-mile stretch of the road, allowing water to flow more naturally and letting the "River of Grass" behave more like a river.

But we weren't there to celebrate that project.  

We were there to announce our new Lacey Act rule to list 4 species of large constrictor snakes, including Burmese python as injurious and to ban their importation and movement in interstate commerce. Believed to be derived from discarded or escaped pets, there is now a wild, naturally reproducing population of Burmese pythons likely totaling in the tens of thousands.

They can grow to over 20 feet and exceed 200 pounds. On Tuesday, we had a relatively small one on display for a battery of media cameras; a mere 13-footer, weighing about 90 pounds. Plenty of snake for me, thanks very much!  

Photo Credit: (Tami Heilemann/Department of Interior)

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Working Together to Preserve and Protect

Monday and Tuesday I've was back in Hawaii, meeting with refuge and law enforcement staff, and visiting some truly inspirational places.

At Ka'ena Point, on the northwest corner of Oahu, I saw how we have worked with our state partners to build an exclusionary fence and remove dogs, cats, mongoose, rats, and mice from this sensitive area. The response has been rapid. Laysan albatross are nesting, and the Secretary of Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources (William Aila) boasted that, "One day this area will look like Midway Atoll, with thousands of nesting albatross."
William Aila Talks about the land at Ka'ena Point Credit: USFWS

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