I recently came across an article my dad wrote for The Nature Conservancy Magazine in 1974, when he headed the Services Albuquerque Regional Office Division of Realty. I was a high school senior.
The article, Genesis of a National Wildlife Refuge, tells about the work that went into establishing New Mexicos Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, at 220,000 acres still the largest land donation in Service history.
My father calls Sevilleta fascinating in its physiographic diversity, at least to this native easterner. He describes it as a vast land of mountains, alluvial fans, piedmont bajadas, terraces, canyons, washes, arroyos, hills and ridges, sand dunes, and bosque lands.
He tells how overgrazing had hurt the lands and how they will need help to recover their former productiveness. He also talks about the partnership and common objectives with The Nature Conservancy, the Campbell Family Foundation and the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust that resulted in the refuge.
I know Dad is intensely proud of Sevilleta, which these days attracts mule deer, pronghorns, black bear, lizards and many species of birds.
The article shows the Service and many conservation partners, like TNC, at their best as they negotiatedeven on Christmas dayto complete the donation. Land with an estimated value of $6 million to $12 million was sold for $500,000 to TNC, which conveyed it to the Service.
The article reminded me of our people in the MountainPrairie Region who recently worked with Louis Bacon on the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area in Colorado. Mr. Bacons donation of an easement on about 170,000 acres constitutes the largest single conservation easement donation in Service history.
Pronghorns at New Mexicos Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, which was established with the help of Director Dan Ashes father, Bill.
Closer to Sevilleta, Valle de Oro Refuge near Albuquerque and Rio Mora Refuge and Conservation Area in northern New Mexico were established last September. And early last year, our folks in Florida worked all out to get up and running Everglades Headwaters Refuge and Conservation Area. In 2012, we also established Swan Valley Conservation Area in Montana and Hackmatack Refuge outside Chicago.
Some of these new refuge units share a key difference from Sevilleta: The Service does not own the land. We are increasingly partnering with private landowners, who are excellent stewards of the land. We are developing conservation easements that provide important wildlife habitat while enabling these stewards to continue working the land as they have done for generations.
And were trying to connect these privately owned lands to our great public estate of national parks, national forests and national wildlife refuges, and state and local conservation areas.
We are making clear that conservation is not just the responsibility of the Service. We all have a stake in it, public and private sector alike.
Dad, of course, knew this when establishing Sevilleta. He ends the article: More than anything else, to my thinking, the genesis of the Sevilleta Refuge is an example of what can be achieved when the private and public sectors work together.
My fathers work lives on at places like Sevilleta. And hes far from the only retireeor current employeewho can say that. Thats whats so great about working for the Service. We all contribute to the conservation of wildlife and wild places for generations to come.
Our work matters. Our values endure. Im proud of the work my father did, at places like Sevilleta; Im proud of the work we are doing today, at places like the Dakota Grasslands; Im proud of the foundations we are laying for those who will come after us. Our legacy is writ large on the landscape.