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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

Reflecting on Black History Month

African-Americans have made immeasurable contributions to conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon the significance of these contributions, both past and present.

Through the vision of these leaders, the conservation community  confronted the challenges of yesterday and today with clarity and courage.  Leveraging their strength, we’ve built a solid foundation to support our work in the face of an uncertain future.

Born into slavery in 1840s, Holt Collier fled plantation life at 14 to become a legendary hunter and tracker. Collier’s skills were so well renowned  he was asked to join Teddy Roosevelt for one of his most famous hunts.  Collier’s legacy lives today in the 1,400-acre National Wildlife Refuge in Darlove, Mississippi that bears his name

Col. Charles Young was one of the first African American graduates of US Military Academy at West Point, and the first ever African-American superintendent of a national park.  Colonel Young worked tirelessly to clear miles and miles of wagon roads to keep Sequoia National park accessible to the public.  Those same roads—while very different today—helped millions visit Sequoia over the last century, solidifying its place as an iconic destination in the American natural landscape.

Keenan Adams found his love for nature in an urban setting very different than the historic Florida wildlife refuges he manages today.  Inspired by his heritage and family history, the Deputy Manager of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex focused his doctoral research at Clemson University on the land ethic of African American forest landowners. Recently, Dr. Adams’ diverse life experiences and subject matter expertise helped the Service work more closely with local community members during the establishment of the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area.

There are many others, of course: African-Americans like Shannon Smith, Maury Bedford, Robin Nims Elliott, Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, and Jerome Ford, who currently play essential leadership roles in the Service.  Rising to meet the conservation challenges of tomorrow will require all of us to summon the same courage of vision and strength that was  summoned by our past leaders. As we confront concerns over the rapid urbanization of the American natural landscape; adapt to the consequences of a changing climate; and attempt to mitigate the impact of habitat loss on wildlife, the Service is fortunate to have these individuals who long ago made the decision to devote their careers to the cause of conservation.  Their expertise and diverse perspectives are reservoirs of strength from which the Service can continually draw today and tomorrow.


Budget Day

Yesterday, in Washington-speak, was "budget day." The day that the President unveils his budget for the next fiscal year -- FY 2013. For agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this is the culmination of a process that began in November 2010, so it's a long time coming.

The President’s FY 2013 budget request for the Service is 1.5 billion, that’s $72 million more than the last fiscal year.  As with all budgets, we had to make some tough choices when we made our request; tough as they were, in a time of fiscal austerity, our request reflects the good conservation work that we do.  It also furthers our goal of transforming the agency to meet the many conservation challenges of the 21st century. 

Wind TurbineThe Service’s budget includes an additional $4.0 million to support energy development including funding for enhanced studies of renewable energy projects, technical assistance in project design, and Endangered Species Act consultation. Photo: NOAA

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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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