U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director
to Tour Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Refuge/Partners Featured as National Model for
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2002
Maggie O’Connell, 912/496-7366, Ext.
Jim Burkhart, 912/496-7366 x233
U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service Director, Steve
Williams, will visit Okefenokee
National Wildlife Refuge for a helicopter tour and to meet
with members of the Greater Okefenokee Association of Landowners (GOAL).
The GOAL partnership has become a national model for how to respond
to and manage wildland fire. This event is one of many across the nation
to celebrate National
Wildlife Refuge Week and kick-off the celebration of the
100th anniversary of the refuge system.
Steve Williams, Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,
Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Fred Wetzel, Fire Mgmt. Officer, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge,
Gary Howell, Chair of GOAL and manager with International Paper
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Folkston, Georgia;
From Folkston, eight miles southwest on Georgia 121; turn right at entrance
sign, three miles to headquarters building (first building on right).
Thursday, October 17, 2002; 2:30 p.m. - Interviews
- The Okefenokee Swamp, like many our nation’s wild lands, depends
on fire for a healthy ecosystem. However, these wild land fires are
not desirable on private and corporate lands surrounding the refuge.
- To manage the wild land fires at Okefenokee, the refuge, other federal
land agencies, and more than fifteen private and corporate landowners
formed GOAL in 1994.
- The past two years have seen devastating fire seasons all across
the nation. Fires are bigger, harder to control, and more dangerous.
Government is seeking ways to manage wild land fire better. The GOAL
partnership is a national model for how government and private landowners
across the nation should work together to manage fire-dependent wild
- October 13-19 is National Wildlife Refuge Week. The U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service manages the nearly 95-million-acre refuge system, the
only system of public lands where wildlife comes first. There are 540
national wildlife refuges across the country, with at least one in each
- In March 2003, the National Wildlife Refuge System will celebrate
its 100th anniversary. The refuge system was established by President
Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 when he set aside Pelican Island, Florida
as a federal bird reserve.
- As the refuge system’s 100th anniversary approaches, Secretary
of Interior Gale Norton and President Bush recognize that national wildlife
refuges are an American treasure. The President’s 2003 budget
requests an additional $56 million – the largest budget increase
ever for refuges.
For more information of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National
Wildlife Refuges, go to http://southeast.fws.gov/.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail
-- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov.
Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.
Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286