I'm writing this during a United Airlines flight home for Father's Day weekend. You can read my Father's Day message at http://www.fws.gov/director/dan-ashe/index.cfm/2012/6/15/Happy-Fathers-Day. I barely made my connection in Denver for the last flight back to Dulles. Hoping to get home to say "Happy Anniversary" in person to my bride of 33 years.
What a week for the USFWS! It began Monday, in Maine, where the Secretary joined NE Regional Director, Wendi Weber, and a phalanx of partners to celebrate removal of the Great Works Dam from Maine's longest river -- the Penobscot. This is the first stage in a $62 million project to restore more than 1,000 river miles to anadromous fish migration: river herring, alewife and Atlantic salmon.
On Wednesday, we announced our decision on the listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard, or DSL, as it is affectionately called: not warranted. Our southwest field and regional staff pulled off one of the all-time great conservation reversals. This is a species we proposed as endangered, but we rolled our sleeves and went to work. When all was said and done, in contrast to the old axiom, more was done than said. More than 650,000 acres of DSL habitat was under conservation agreement. 88 percent of the total habitat between New Mexico and Texas. Incredible!
And on Wednesday and Thursday, I joined acting BLM Director, Mike Pool, and the greater sage-grouse task force, in Denver. Working with 11 western states, we are conserving habitat on a scale not seen since the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. BLM is amending 90 resource management plans, and the USFS is amending more than 20 forest plans. The NRCS has invested well more than $100 million in landowner assistance. Amazing!
And then, on Friday, I joined Secretary Salazar in Colorado's San Luis Valley. This is his home. Where he grew up. Where his family farms and ranches, still today. We were celebrating a breathtaking gift to the National Wildlife Refuge System and to the American people. Renowned conservationist, Louis Bacon, announced his intention to donate an easement over the 90,000-acre Blanca Ranch. As the Secretary said, in this job you have good days, and really good days. Friday was really good!
And the week as a whole was incredible! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accomplishing great things! Thank you all!
It's now 12:32 AM, I'm still 40 minutes out from Dulles Airport, so I'm going to miss sayings personal "Happy Anniversary" to my bride. I think this is the first time, in 33 years, that we have been apart on June 15. Life is bittersweet.