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New Refuge Manager Selected for Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge in Kentucky



March 25, 2004

Elsie Davis, 404/679-7107


Mike Johnson, a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has been selected as the new refuge manager for the Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge in Benton, Kentucky. Johnson will replace the current manager, Rick Huffines, on May 30. Huffines will begin his new assignment in Atlanta, Georgia as the Regional Law Enforcement Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System.

“Mike is a progressive leader who has years of experience working on National Wildlife Refuges,” said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. “He is excited about partnering with the community, and he has experience with land acquisition programs from willing sellers.”

For the past four years, Johnson has served as refuge manager at the Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Sevier County, Arkansas. He worked to establish the refuge which was started in 1994. Johnson also worked for four years as refuge manager of Harris Neck, Blackbeard Island, and Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuges on the Georgia Coast. He started his career with the Service working four years at Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in Augusta, Arkansas. For two years, he volunteered at Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge near where he grew up in Greers Ferry, Arkansas.

“I am passionate about natural resources and the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Johnson. “Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge is the result of community support, and I look forward to building on the great work and relationships that Rick Huffines and the staff have started.”

Though an avid hunter and fisherman, Johnson has spent much of his free time as a volunteer coach for his daughter Marissa’s basketball team and his son Reese’s basketball and baseball teams. He and his wife Michelle have been married for 15 years. Johnson has a bachelors degree in wildlife and fisheries management from Arkansas Tech University and a masters degree in wildlife ecology from Mississippi State University.

The 7,000-acre Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1997, is home to more than 250 different bird species, including the peregrine falcon. A natural wetland, the refuge is comprised of bottomland hardwoods, rivers, creeks, and natural ponds that attract migratory songbirds. Clarks River also provides habitat for the endangered Indiana bat.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses more than 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 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.

Mike Johnson.  FWS Photo.
Mike Johnson. FWS Photo.

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