Deputy Director of Operations
Office of External Affairs

Jim Kurth

Photo of Jim Kurth Jim Kurth was appointed as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Deputy Director for Operations on January 7, 2015 by Service Director Dan Ashe.

As Deputy Director for Operations, Kurth promotes and implements the agency’s mission and priorities throughout the United States and abroad by developing and strengthening partnerships with other federal agencies and foreign governments, states, tribes, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. He also assists Director Ashe in ensuring agency performance and accountability, customer service, and consistent application of all Service resource management policies.

Kurth has primary responsibility for managing the day-to-day implementation of the Service’s field-based mission. This includes overseeing an appropriated budget of $2.5 billion and nearly 9,000 employees working across the nation and in many foreign countries. These employees spearhead efforts to conserve the nation’s native fish, wildlife and plants on 564 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts encompassing more than 150 million acres in all 50 states; operate 69 National Fish Hatcheries; and administer fish and wildlife programs, including endangered species recovery, from 64 Fishery Resources Offices and 81 Ecological Services Field Offices nationwide.
A 35-year career Fish and Wildlife Service employee, Kurth previously served as Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System beginning in 2011 before becoming Deputy Director for Operations.

In nearly four years as Chief and 11 years prior to that as Deputy Chief, he led management of the world’s premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants. He initiated the development of Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation – a renewed vision for the growth and management of the Refuge System over the next decade – and led its implementation prior to being appointed Deputy Director. During his tenure, the Refuge System experienced significant growth, adding more than 50 million acres and dozens of refuges to the network.

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: June 16, 2015
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