Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
Select this button stylePrint Friendly

Regional Refuge Chief Charlie Blair
retires after 41 years with the Service

Retiring Asisstant Regional Director for Refuges Charlie Blair. Photo by USFWS.

Retiring Asisstant Regional Director for Refuges Charlie Blair. Photo by USFWS.

A mainstay, a go-to-guy, our corporate memory of information are just a few terms used to describe important leaders and all of them apply to the Midwest Regional Refuge Chief Charlie Blair who retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this month after a whopping 41 years of service. He started his career with the Service as an assistant manager at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in March of 1978 and, realizing refuges was his personal utopia, he never left the system.

During his tenure, Charlie worked at 11 different stations in three Service regions. Prior to coming to the Midwest Regional Office as the Refuge Chief in 2013, he held positions as assistant manager at Bombay Hook/Prime Hook Refuges in Delaware; acting manager at Nowitna Refuge in Alaska; and manager at Ninigret Refuge Complex in Rhode Island, Ottawa Refuge in Ohio, Crane Meadows-Sherburne Refuge Complex in Minnesota, Maine Coastal Islands Refuge in Maine and Minnesota Valley Refuge and Wetland Management District Complex in Minnesota.

No stranger to controversy or challenge, Charlie faced both early and often in his career. Throughout it all he consistently remained the consummate professional and true ambassador for the resource. During his tenure as manager at Ninigret Refuge in Rhode Island, the Service proposed to reserve Moonstone Beach--a popular spot with sunbathers--as a summer haven for the endangered piping plover. When asked about the controversial proposal in 1987, Charlie is quoted as saying “It’s all a question of whether people are willing to make sacrifices for the existence of a species on this Earth.” In addition to being a champion for the resource, he mentored many of the next generation of conservation leaders. He is known for his a common-sense, straight forward approach to issues and great passion for the places, wildlife and people he worked with.

In a farewell message Charlie described his time as Regional Refuge Chief as follows: “My tenure started with sequestration in early 2013 followed by decreasing budgets for the next three fiscal years. We worked together and made important decisions to get through this challenging period that incorporated complexing, workforce planning, zones, hubs, and few other adjustments from the status quo. These were not popular subjects or decisions but necessary actions to keep us all functional and operational. We shared the pain together and continued to do great things for conservation… without a doubt the greatest asset of this organization is the people that have chosen to dedicate their careers to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

His commitment to the protection of natural resources and to the people working to make that happen is what makes him a true conservation leader.

Charlie will be greatly missed, but will continue to be a mainstay for our resources from the legacy he has left behind. We wish him happy trails and a wonderful retirement!

Last updated: August 16, 2019