Public Access Civil Rights
Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program

"The Synergy of Conservation and Civil Rights: No Community Left Behind."


The Service monitors its State fish and wildlife agencies to ensure that person from different racial/ethnic backgrounds have equal access to programs and services of those agencies; that barriers to participation to persons with disabilities are removed; that women are included in educational activities such as hunter and aquatic education; that the public is notified of their rights via recipient publications; that recipients sign assurances to comply with Federal civil rights laws; that advisory boards reflect the demographic makeup of the State population; that State programs are accessible to persons with limited English proficiency; that State environmental policies and practices do not have an adverse impact on minority and low-income communities; and related requirements. The Service facilitates liaisons and partnerships between the state agencies and multicultural community groups to help ensure equal access for all.

The monitoring of the civil rights activities of recipients is accomplished via different methods: Anyone who believes that he/she has been discriminated against on one or more of the above bases has the right to file a complaint with: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Policy and Programs, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Mail Stop: WSFR-4020, Arlington, Virginia 22203. The Service also conducts systemic reviews of State fish and wildlife agencies to determine overall adherence to civil rights mandates. Finally, the Service accepts feedback from minority, disability and women’s groups on the civil rights practices of our recipients.The Service partners with several other offices and agencies to accomplish Federal civil rights objectives. We work closely with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Civil Rights, which has on overall coordination role for civil rights across the entire Department of the Interior.

The Service’s public access civil rights program is an active participant in the Association of Federal External Civil Rights Specialists/Officers.  This Association is an inter-agency organization, representative of all the Federal Officers and Specialists who perform public access civil rights duties.  The Association was formed to promote best practices and national visibility in the public access civil rights program.  The Association sponsors symposia featuring national civil rights experts on the third Tuesday of every month (with the exception of 2 summer months and December).  The Association is involved with other Federal civil rights initiatives, and has participated in other national events such as the Federal Dispute Resolution Conference.

The Service’s public access civil rights program also participates in the Council of Federal EEO and Civil Rights Executives.  This Council is the inter-agency umbrella group covering various aspects of Federal civil rights enforcement. 
The Council usually meets once per month.  More information on the Council can be found at www.fedcivilrights.org.  This Website also contains other links to civil rights related Websites.

Also, the public access civil rights program is an active participant in two Department of the Interior cross-bureau teams:  the DOI Public Civil Rights Working Group and the DOI Disability Rights Coordinating Committee.  Both of these groups are sponsored by the DOI Office of Civil Rights.  These two groups cover civil rights policies, activities and initiatives that impact the Department as a whole, including the component bureaus.

For information on disability access to facilities and programs operated by the Service, please contact the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System, Visitor Services office at (703) 358-1744.

The Service believes that an effective public access civil rights program is most effective when we pursue multicultural community partnerships.  Thus, we conduct active outreach to and liaisons with minority, disability and women’s groups.  There is a two-way sharing of information.  In particular, we receive feedback from the community on the civil rights issues that these communities have identified as the most critical.  We try to consult with community groups on environmental actions which impact those communities.  On the other hand, we also provide information relating to the Service’s environmental conservation programs, so that these groups can be active stewards for the Service’s mission.  We try to sponsor environmental conservation-related symposia or workshops at select national minority conferences.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, as part of its Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 civil rights enforcement, covers Environmental Justice requirements. Presidential Executive Order 12898 prohibits Federal environmental policies or practices that have an adverse impact on minority or low income communities. Historically, minority and low income communities have had to bear more than their fair share of toxic wastes and pollutants, often with adverse health consequences, and without the input of those communities. To the extent that persons of one or more races are treated adversely with regard to any environmental program, that is a violation of Title VI. We try to make sure that our Federal grant recipients are vigilant about ensuring that no racial/ethnic group is treated worse because of environmental activities. We ask that these grant recipients maintain active liaisons and partnerships with minority groups, to get their input and opinions, regarding all environmental actions, and also to ensure equal access to their programs.

RECENT CIVIL RIGHT CASES AND ACTIVITIES

RECENT EVENTS


Contacts/Links
 The Departmental Office of Civil Rights can be reached at www.doi.gov/diversity/civil_rights.html.The U.S. Department of Justice, at www.usdoj.gov, oversees civil rights for the entire Federal government, under the Civil Rights Division. The DOJ provides expertise and legal support on issues such as: equal access to different racial/ethnic groups under Title VI; equal access to persons with disabilities under Section 504 and Title II of the ADA; limited English proficiency; and new requirements (under Presidential Executive Order 13347) that persons with disabilities must be included in all emergency preparedness/evacuation plans of Federal agencies. The Department of Homeland Security, at www.dhs.gov, provides overall coordination of the emergency preparedness initiative, pursuant to E.O. 13347.The U.S. Access Board, at www.access-board.gov, provides guidance on accessibility standards for different kinds of facilities. All new construction and major renovations must be 100% accessible in accordance with these standards.The Environmental Protection Agency, at www.epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice/index.html, provides overall guidance on environmental justice/equity standards pursuant to Executive Order 12898.Overall national guidance and policy recommendations for public access civil rights is provided by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights at www.usccr.gov.Guidance and resource material for the limited English proficiency program can be found at www.lep.gov, a sub-site of the Department of Justice. The Service partners with its state fish and wildlife agencies on many activities, including civil rights. Information on conservation initiatives of the State agencies, and general contact information, is available by contacting the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies at www.fishwildife.org.

For a comprehensive list of disability community groups nationwide, contact the United Cerebral Palsy’s Website at www.ucp.org.
For a comprehensive list of African-American, Hispanic and Asian Pacific American community groups nationwide, contact TIYM Publishing at (703) 734-1632. .

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