As the new chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, I have the best job I ever hoped for and during one of the best times in the history of the Refuge System. I have worked in the conservation profession for more than 30 years, and I cant think of a more exciting timeeven though we may face some tough financial challenges.
Why my optimism?
Because, as we implement the Conserving the Future vision over the next few years, we have the chance to advance not only the Refuge System but also the larger conservation community. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sees the vision process as the kind of strategic thinking that should be taking place across government if we are to stimulate conservation beyond our boundaries.
The next few years are the Refuge Systems time to shine. We have extraordinary support from top leadershipstarting with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who sees national wildlife refuges as integral to his vision for landscape conservation. Service Director Dan Ashe, whose father worked in the Service for decades and proudly saved dirt that we now manage, has roots in the Refuge System, having led as chief from 19982003. The Conserving the Future vision articulates their passion for wild places.
Weve worked hard to get to this point. With your help over the past 18 months, we have fashioned a vision that will enhance our standing in the scientific community. Its implementation will help the Refuge System and the very principles of conservation connect with urban and ethnic constituencies that rarely have been engaged in the conservation conversation.
We broke new ground on how we communicate leading up to and during the conference. We must continue to think of new ways to communicate and engage new and diverse partners.
Most of the nine Conserving the Future implementation teams have until this summer to formulate their recommendations for policy changes and strategic direction. That means you have many months in which you can suggest innovative ways of reaching the goals of the 24 recommendations in the Conserving the Future vision. The www.AmericasWildlife.org Web site is one way to communicate with the implementation teams. We are ramping up other communications avenuesincluding Facebook and Twitter. If you want to communicate directly, send an email to any of the implementation team members. The rosters of six teams are listed on page 18 of this issue of Refuge Update; members of the three previously named teams were listed in the September/October and November/December 2011 issues.
The story of the Refuge System always has been one of innovation, experimentation and optimism. Now you can leave your mark. Dont wait.