Strategic Habitat Conservation, landscape-level conservation and the idea of surrogate species, using one species to represent other species or even ecosystems, are ways that the Service is getting conservation done in an era of tight budgets. Director Dan Ashe has said that the Service will “do the best that we can possibly do with whatever resources are made available to us.” The Southwest Region has chosen to take landscape-level conservation a step further. Southwest Region Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle explains.
History repeats itself and I have lived long enough to see a few reenactments with my own eyes. As Regional Director of the Southwest Region I am charged with a large responsibility to steer conservation of myriad species in a multitude of ecosystems. The challenge inspires me daily.
The Southwest Region spans landscapes adorned with endemic fishes and salamanders, wintering waterfowl and nesting warblers. Pronghorn skitter over our prairies and rare trout swim in cold mountain streams that pour down sky islands that jut up from the desert floor. The people who have dedicated their lives to conservation are as diverse in talents and character and skills as are the landscapes in my region—lands that ascend from sandy beaches at sea level on the Gulf Coast up to Arctic tundra in the high headlands of the Rio Grande basin on the Colorado border.