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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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Lakewood, Colorado 80228
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Names National Wildlife Refuge System Manager of the Year; Employee of the Year
The manager of one of the largest and most complex refuge systems in the nation, and the administrative officer at a refuge in the Rocky mountains, have won national recognition from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their contributions.
Each year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes outstanding staff at national wildlife refuges around the country. The 2003 Refuge Manager of the Year is Mike Rearden, who manages the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The 2003 Refuge Employee of the Year is Ann Blakley, an administrative officer at the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming.
"I am continually impressed by the dedication of the staff at national wildlife refuges around the country," said Steve Williams, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Anyone whos ever visited a refuge knows how passionately the employees feel about their work. They are on the front lines when it comes to conserving our nations wildlife.
"This years winners, Refuge Manager Mike Rearden and refuge employee Ann Blakley, epitomize what we all strive for," Williams added. "Mike has done a superb job of outreach to key partners the Native American villages on his refuge. Ann has used her administrative talents to support other staff at National Elk Refuge, and to keep the refuge running smoothly."
Mike Rearden has spent 27 years in Alaska with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge he manages spans nearly 20 million acres. He works with 36 tribal village governments as well as the State of Alaska to manage the refuges fish and wildlife resources, and oversees a budget of more than $3.3 million.
Mikes accomplishments at Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge include handling disastrously low salmon runs, and working with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Yupik Eskimos to come up with a recovery plan. Many in the local subsistence fishing community had never had to deal with fishing restrictions before.
As noted by Ivan M. Ivan, chairman of the Association of Village Council
Presidents, “Because of the strong cultural ties and the high degree of
dependence on a subsistence way of life for the Yup’ik residents of this
region, many resource programs have the potential to be very controversial.”
Ivan also said that Mike has been instrumental in developing management
plans for moose and geese that address the concerns of local subsistence
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies
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