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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director to Tour Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Refuge/Partners Featured as National Model for Fire Management


October 10, 2002

Maggie O’Connell, 912/496-7366, Ext. 232
Jim Burkhart, 912/496-7366 x233

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director, Steve Williams, will visit Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge for a helicopter tour and to meet with members of the Greater Okefenokee Association of Landowners (GOAL). The GOAL partnership has become a national model for how to respond to and manage wildland fire. This event is one of many across the nation to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week and kick-off the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the refuge system.


Steve Williams, Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C.
Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Atlanta
Fred Wetzel, Fire Mgmt. Officer, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Folkston
Gary Howell, Chair of GOAL and manager with International Paper


Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Folkston, Georgia;
From Folkston, eight miles southwest on Georgia 121; turn right at entrance sign, three miles to headquarters building (first building on right).


Thursday, October 17, 2002; 2:30 p.m. - Interviews available.


  • The Okefenokee Swamp, like many our nation’s wild lands, depends on fire for a healthy ecosystem. However, these wild land fires are not desirable on private and corporate lands surrounding the refuge.
  • To manage the wild land fires at Okefenokee, the refuge, other federal land agencies, and more than fifteen private and corporate landowners formed GOAL in 1994.
  • The past two years have seen devastating fire seasons all across the nation. Fires are bigger, harder to control, and more dangerous. Government is seeking ways to manage wild land fire better. The GOAL partnership is a national model for how government and private landowners across the nation should work together to manage fire-dependent wild lands.
  • October 13-19 is National Wildlife Refuge Week. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service manages the nearly 95-million-acre refuge system, the only system of public lands where wildlife comes first. There are 540 national wildlife refuges across the country, with at least one in each state.
  • In March 2003, the National Wildlife Refuge System will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The refuge system was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 when he set aside Pelican Island, Florida as a federal bird reserve.
  • As the refuge system’s 100th anniversary approaches, Secretary of Interior Gale Norton and President Bush recognize that national wildlife refuges are an American treasure. The President’s 2003 budget requests an additional $56 million – the largest budget increase ever for refuges.

For more information of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Wildlife Refuges, go to

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Our national home page is at:

Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

2001 News Releases

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