Inside Region 3
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Tom Melius (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)
Tom Melius/USFWS

February 2014

From the Polar Vortices to Surrogate Species

It doesn’t seem like it when you look out of your windows, but spring is just around the corner, despite the ground hog’s predictions. January’s “polar vortices” behind us, we can look ahead to what has traditionally been an extremely busy season for us.

I was pleased to host the 2013 Region 3 year in review. It is great to see all the outstanding work that’s being done throughout the region. We definitely have a dedicated and passionate staff working on behalf of the American public for the benefit of wildlife conservation. If you haven’t seen our 2013 Year In Review video, please take a few minutes to watch it with the viewer below this story.

As we are in the early months of 2014, it’s nice to see that we have our budget challenges addressed.  An appropriations bill delivered from Congress will help as we start moving forward with implementation of a number of our programs.  As we move further into the year we have to make sure that we are spending those dollars on the highest conservation needs.

I want to also encourage, as our Director Dan Ashe did (during his recent all-employee broadcast), that folks have to go beyond just doing good work. We have to be looking strategically at the best--the greatest needs that our resources have.  And one way of doing that is to think broadly on a large landscape scale and efficiently via our surrogate species. Thinning down all the species to a handful of surrogate species allows us to be more efficient with targeting our activities.

So I hope that as we continue this year to refine surrogate species that not only will everyone get engaged but will contribute through their voices to help us as we move forward. This year we are going to be looking more strategically at directing our efforts and that’s not to say that the work that is going on in the Service is not good work, but we have to redirect it.  We have to “work smart” in these times. The expectations of the public and the Congress demand it so. We have to make sure that we are strategically spending those dollars for the conservation of those natural resources.

One way to look at it more strategically is to look at it through the lens of large landscapes. We have to determine within those landscapes what are the most important conservation actions that we can implement to help a number of species.  One way to do that is to look at it through the lens of surrogate species.

You can learn more about surrogate species by visiting





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Last updated: March 17, 2014