U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Photo
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2000 Release#:R00-005
Contact: Tom MacKenzie 404/ 679-7291
A native of Greers Ferry, Michael Johnson has been selected to manage Pond Creek Refuge, 30 miles north of Texarkana, Arkansas. Johnson, who currently manages Harris Neck, Blackbeard Island, and Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuges of the Savannah Coastal Refuge complex in Georgia, is scheduled to begin his duties in early March.
"Michael knows Arkansas' rich natural heritage and will strive to protect it." said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. "With five and a half years of management experience on Arkansas refuges, he is perfectly suited to be the first manager of Pond Creek."
"We are excited that one of the best refuge managers in the country is heading up this special national wildlife refuge," said Steve Thompson, Assistant Regional Director.
The Dismal Swamp southeastern shrew is a small, long-tailed shrew weighing less than an ounce and measuring up to 4 inches in length. In 1986, the shrew was believed to live solely within the historical boundaries of the Dismal Swamp of extreme southeastern Virginia and adjacent North Carolina.
Johnson, an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has served as assistant refuge manager at Cache River in Augusta and was a co-op student manager trainee for 2 years at Wapanocca Refuge in Turrell and Big Lake Refuge in Manila (formerly Northeast Arkansas Refuge complex).
At Pond Creek, Johnson's goal is to pursue wildlife management initiatives that will restore altered habitat on the refuge and increase wildlife populations. He also hopes to develop a cohesive relationship with the refuges' local and extended communities that is beneficial to people, land, and wildlife.
"I'm excited about moving back to Arkansas," said Johnson. "Our new home is a lot like the area in north central Arkansas where my wife and I were raised, so we are considering it moving back home. I am fully committed to the refuge and its continued development for wildlife and the public."
The 27,300-acre Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1994. Located in the Little River floodplain, most of the habitat on Pond Creek consists of bottomland hardwoods. Rivers, oxbow lakes, and sloughs are plentiful throughout the refuge. About 12,000 visitors annually enjoy hunting, fishing, camping, wildlife observation, and photography at the refuge which hosts wood ducks, wintering migratory birds, and neotropical birds.
Since 1996, Johnson has served as manager of three refuges within the Savannah Coastal Refuge complex in Georgia where he helped start a $100,000 cooperative project with Ducks Unlimited to improve waterfowl and endangered word stork habitat. He also spearheaded a cooperative work agreement with the Department of Labor to provide work opportunities for underprivileged youths from local Job Corps' Centers. This agreement helped accomplish a wide variety of conservation and maintenance projects on all three refuges.
From 1993 to 1996, Johnson served as assistant manager of Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in Augusta, Arkansas. Some of his accomplishments included the reforestation of bottomland hardwoods, moist soil management for waterfowl, overseeing cooperative agreements with farmers on refuge lands, assisting with refuge hunts and other public use and educational activities, and assisting private landowners with wetland restoration programs.
Before 1993, Johnson was a co-op student and refuge manager trainee at Wapanocca Refuge and Big Lake Refuge in Arkansas. While at Arkansas Technological University, from 1988 to 1990, Johnson worked as a volunteer at Holla Bend Refuge in Dardanelle. In 1990, Johnson received his bachelor's in wildlife and fisheries management from Arkansas Technological University and he received his master's in wildlife ecology from Mississippi State University in 1994.
Johnson and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Reese, age 7, and Marissa, age 5. Michelle is a medical assistant. Johnson enjoys hunting, fishing, and playing sports with his children.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.