For Immediate Release
March 10, 1999

Contacts: Tom MacKenzie
Hugh Vickery
(202) 208-5634


Mr. Burkett S. Neely, Jr. former manager of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach, Florida, was among three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees who received Distinguished Service Awards during the Department of Interior's 150th anniversary celebration, March 4, in Washington D.C.

The awards are the highest honor bestowed upon Interior Department employees for sustained dedication to their duty and significant contributions in their careers. President Clinton and Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior, presented the awards.

"When we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Interior Department, we aren't just celebrating a department or agency, we are celebrating the hard work of thousands of dedicated employees and volunteers who have made conserving our wildlife heritage their life's work," said Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark. "The individuals honored today stand as representatives of this proud legacy of service to our country."

During his 33-year career, Neely was widely recognized as one of the Service's outstanding refuge managers. He served on a number of national wildlife refuges, and was manager at A.R.M. Loxahatchee for 17 years when he retired in March 1998. At A.R.M. Loxahatchee, he served as a Departmental and Service spokesperson on many issues, including conservation efforts to restore the integrity of the Everglades ecosystem. During a five-year period stationed at the headquarters in Washington, Neely made significant contributions toward the successful implementation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the development and passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

"It was a great honor to receive the award, particularly since the presentation was part of the Interior's 150th anniversary celebration and the President was there," said Neely, who now lives in Fort White, Florida. "Winning the award came as a total surprise to me, especially since I've been retired a year."

Other employees who received the Distinguished Service Award were Mr. Gail Conrad Kobetich of California and Mr. James Ambler Young of Arizona.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 Ecological Services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


Release #: R99-024

1999 News Releases

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