Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Department of the Interior Convocation Ceremony Honors Five U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Employees

March 8, 2012


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar honored four employees of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service today with the Department’s Distinguished Service Award, the highest recognition offered to employees by the department. A fifth employee received special recognition for his work during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The awards were presented at the 68th Department of the Interior Honor Awards Convocation held in Washington, DC, held to recognize employees and volunteers selected for their service to the department and to the nation.

“I’m privileged to recognize the many men and women who have served the Department with acts of courage and valor this year, as well as those who have served the American public with excellence for many years, ” Secretary Salazar said during today’s event at the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe added, “I am reminded every day of the selfless dedication and professionalism displayed by our employees, and I am especially pleased that the Department has seen fit to honor these five outstanding Service leaders with its highest award. ”

Four Service employees received the Department’s Distinguished Service Award. The DSA is the highest honorary recognition a department employee can receive and is granted for outstanding contribution to science, outstanding skill or ability in the performance of duty, an eminent career in the Department, an outstanding record in administration, energy conservation, or any other outstanding contribution to public service. Those honored during the Secretarial event today included:

Patricia L. Thompson was honored for her extensive experience in management and her continuous high performance in support of the Service mission. She began her career with the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, a precursor the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She was cited for her ability to lead by example and always in an effort to further the mission of the Service. She was instrumental in establishment of the agency’s Pacific Southwest Region and successful managing one of the first pilot Interior Department Credentialing Centers in Portland, Oregon. Thompson’s broad knowledge of the budget and administration programs, wealth of experience, and unflappable demeanor made her the perfect choice for the role.

Bill O. Wilen was cited for his outstanding leadership and dedication to wetlands habitat, the wildlife it supports and the National Wetlands Inventory program for over 30 years. His extensive expertise in wetland issues has led to his active participation in significant wetlands, floodplain, and coastal initiatives throughout the Service and the department. As a member of the Federal Interagency Committee for Wetlands Delineation, Dr. Wilen helped the Federal Government prepare a set of scientifically-based procedures for identifying and delineating wetlands and helped establish the Service’s wetland classification system as the Federal data standard for reporting on the location, status, and trends of wetlands. He also had the vision to post National Wetland Inventory data on the internet so the entire world could access and use the data.

Charles M. Wooley was cited for his significant leadership role in the Service and a career that has been marked by his ability to build consensus and inspire members of the conservation community to apply common sense solutions to the Great Lakes' most difficult challenges. Wooley was instrumental in establishing the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, an innovative cooperative effort that restores fishery resources replacing those lost through the operation of hydroelectric facilities. He has also led field, regional and national efforts to identify natural resources injured by contaminants, recover damages from those responsible, and undertake restorations. On behalf of the department, he negotiated one of the earliest large natural resource damage settlements for the Saginaw River in Michigan. As a Service Deputy Regional Director, Wooley has a special affinity and appreciation for the day-to-day work of field biologists and his coaching, guidance, and caring are hallmarks of an outstanding, and generous leader.

Edward E. Bangs was cited for his tireless efforts spanning two decades to accomplish the recovery and ongoing conservation of the gray wolf in the northern Rocky Mountains. Bangs began working on wolf recovery in Helena, Montana, in 1986. He played a pivotal role in the Service’s reintroduction of gray wolves to central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, in 1995 and 1996. Resident wolf packs have now occupied more than 110,000 miles of suitable habitat in the West. Bangs has worked on numerous legal actions designed to reduce the Federal Government’s role in managing this species and the job has proved frustrating and thankless at times, but his determination, stamina, and sense of humor have been integral to his successful efforts. Throughout his career, he has engendered trust and respect from his colleagues, the media, and the general public by being an honest and straight-forward representative of the Service. He has consistently and effectively promoted and explained the complex biological and social issues surrounding wolf recovery. Bangs can be credited with leading the recovery of gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains and achieving one of the greatest conservation successes in the history of the Endangered Species Act.

Service employee Brian Hardison received the Department’s Safety and Occupational Health Safety Award of Excellence for his contributions to the safety of Interior employees and volunteers, visitors, and contractors during the response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig explosion and subsequent clean-up efforts. As the Service’s Southeast Region strike team spill coordinator, Hardison organized response efforts and was among the first employees officially mobilized as part of the effort that ultimately culminated in some 3,200 Service personnel rotating through the response activities.

For additional information concerning Service recipients and honors bestowed on employees of other Department of the Interior agencies, visit

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