Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
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Meet the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge
and Wetland Management District

Located in west central Minnesota, the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1975 when land purchased by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This 11,585-acre refuge consists of tallgrass prairie, scattered wetlands, granite outcrops, and 11 miles of the Minnesota River. The refuge provides habitat for migratory birds; fish and wildlife species conservation; and wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities.

Principally, the refuge strives to maintain and restore native prairie habitat while providing optimum nesting cover for waterfowl and other grassland nesting birds. Also managed out of the office is the Big Stone Wetland Management District that was established in 1996 to acquire and manage lands for waterfowl breeding habitat in two counties south of the refuge. In 2000, this office also began to acquire and manage land as part of the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. The current staff represents numerous diverse backgrounds and is dedicated to conserving natural resources and providing the best public service possible.

Scott Simmons

Scott Simmons

Scott Simmons is Manager of Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge and Wetland Management District. He also serves as the Coordinator/Manager for the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. Scott has only been at his current duty station and in the Midwest Region since late October of 2015 but looks forward to what the future holds. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, he started his federal career as the wildlife biologist at U.S. Marine Corps Base, Quantico, and then transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service working in Regions 2, 4 and now the Midwest Region. He graduated with a B.S. degree from Austin Peay State University, Tennessee, and a M.S. degree from Tennessee Technological University. He enjoys time with his family, hunting and fishing and both making and collecting duck calls.


 

 

 

Jason Ballard

Jason Ballard

Jason Ballard is a Wildlife Refuge Specialist at Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge and Wetland Management District. He began his federal career in 2012 as a Student Career Experience Program student stationed at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge and has been at Big Stone since 2013. Jason is originally from Orlando, Florida, and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.S. degree in wildlife biology. Outside of work Jason enjoys spending time with his family, hunting, fishing and just about anything outdoors related.


 

 

 

Deborah Hoffman

Deborah Hoffman

Deborah Hoffman is an Administrative Support Assistant for the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge and Wetland Management District. When Debbie started at the refuge in 2012, she brought 24 years of administrative and bookkeeping experience with her. She likes working with the budget and seeing things come together in Financial Business Management System and EBT. She finds the diversity of her administrative duties (programs, Information Technology, procedural support, receptionist, outreach, documentation, education, purchasing, planning, FPPS, etc.) keeps work interesting and she is thankful for every day at the office. Debbie’s perfect day at home includes spending hours in the kitchen, taking the dog for a long country walk, and an evening of watching classic movies while eating popcorn with her family.


 

 

 

Paul Nelson

Paul Nelson

Paul Nelson is a Maintenance Mechanic at Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge and Wetland Management District. He started his career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2006 at Rainwater Basin Wetland Management district in the Mountain-Prairie Region. Eventually, he transferred to Windom Wetland Management District, Minnesota, to be closer to family. In March of 2013 he joined the staff at Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge. Paul grew up in Stockholm, South Dakota, about 30 miles from the Refuge. Therefore, he considers himself very fortunate to be able to work so close to his hometown, family and friends. Away from work, Paul enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with family and friends.


 

 

 

Chris Mursu

Chris Mursu

Chris Mursu is a Zone Fire Management Specialist. He supports U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fire management programs at Refuges and Wetland Management Districts in Minnesota as a firefighter, prescribed fire specialist, training specialist, casual pay specialist, Geographic Information System Specialist, Budget Specialist and Equipment Operator. He also travels to wildfire and all-hazard incidents throughout the U.S. as a single resource emergency responder, usually acting within the operations branch or planning branch of those incidents. Back home in South Dakota, he is raising three boys with his wife, Twila, when not lending a helping hand to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff and projects.


 

 

 

 

Last updated: January 6, 2016