Chief of National Wildlife Refuge System
Office of External Affairs

Jim Kurth

Photo of Jim Kurth Jim Kurth became the Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System in October 2011. As Chief, he leads the management of the world’s premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants. The 109-year-old Refuge System comprises more than 150 million acres and 550+ units in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

Kurth is a 32–year veteran of the Refuge System and had previously served as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Deputy Chief for the Refuge System since 1999. He will lead the Refuge System through the implementation of Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation -- the renewed vision for the growth and management of the Refuge System during the next decade. 

After graduating with a degree in wildlife management from the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin -Stevens Point, Kurth began his Refuge System career in 1979 with posts at Mississippi SandhiIl Crane National Wildlife Refuge, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana, Seney National Wildlife Refuge in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island.

Starting in 1994, Kurth managed the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska -- the largest refuge in the United States, spanning 20 million acres. Arctic also contains an 8-million-acre Wilderness Area -- the largest within the Refuge System.

Kurth and his wife of 35 years, Trisha, their three children, and grandchildren, all live in the Northern Virginia area. They enjoy their weekly Saturday family dinners together; a tradition they have continued for many years. 

Table of Organization

Last updated: November 13, 2012
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