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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

Two Years After Hurricane Sandy, Resilient People and Nature Are Coming Back

Coral reef

Student Conservation Association students Edward Whitehead and Emily Bowles with U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe with a slice of the log they helped cut. Photo credit: Greg Thompson/USFWS

Two years ago today, Hurricane Sandy stormed ashore, bringing tropical storm force winds that extended over an area about 1,000 miles in diameter across the Northeast. Flooding from record storm surge levels in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut did even more damage.

For the families of people who lost their lives, life will never be the same. They and countless others also lost their homes, businesses and irreplaceable memories. I hope you’ll take a moment to remember these losses – and that so many people and communities still need our help to recover. 

In addition to the extensive loss of life, livelihood and property, the region's wildlife and the habitat that supports it were also devastated. National wildlife refuges in 14 states along the Atlantic Coast are still recovering from the damage wrought by Sandy.  


The African Lion Needs Our Help

We proposed listing the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Credit: Ken Stansell/USFWS

For centuries, the African lion has been the emblem of royalty – and a universal symbol of strength, nobility and power. But as powerful as lions may be, evidence shows that they need our help to survive.

The lion is part of our heritage as global citizens. Ensuring that healthy populations continue to roam the savannah is up to all of us – not just the people of Africa. That’s why today we proposed to protect the lion under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. (RELATED: What We Do for the African Lion)


Refuge Week Shows How Far We Have Come

Service Director Dan Ashe and U.S. Congressman James Langevin of Rhode Island at the Providence Parks Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership designation.
Service Director Dan Ashe and U.S. Congressman James Langevin of Rhode Island at the Providence Parks Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership designation. Credit: USFWS

Happy National Wildlife Refuge Week! I'm a waterfowl hunter, so Refuge Week always sneaks up when I'm preparing (or at least thinking about preparing to prepare) for a new season, and crisp mornings and fresh hope for memorable days afield. As I think about the refuge system of today, I see the refuge system of yesterday and it is truly inspirational how far we have come.  I've had the blessings to visit many refuges this past year, and those visits confirmed my confidence that we've come far.  Sure, we have challenges. Land management is a challenging proposition. But we do it with a particular pride and professionalism, and it shows.

Last December, I had the distinct honor to visit Palmyra Atoll NWR. Up close and personal with sharks, manta rays, melon-headed whales, coconut crabs, and thousands-upon-thousands of boobies and petrels. Here in this remote corner of the world, our work was evident. Rats gone, and coral-killing shipwrecks being removed, we were making paradise even better. And the year is capped as President Obama expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument to become the world's largest fully protected marine conservation unit.


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