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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Selects New Manager for Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge



April 29, 2004

Tom MacKenzie, 404/679-7291
Clarke Dirks, 478/986-5441


Clarke Dirks, a 17-year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the new refuge manager of Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Round Oak, Georgia. Formerly the refuge manager at Reelfoot and Lake Isom National Wildlife Refuges in Union City, Tennessee, he began his new position on April 19, 2004.

“Clarke’s extensive experience in land and wildlife management will be a great asset in managing the refuge for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and for migratorywaterfowl and songbirds,” said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

At Reelfoot and Lake Isom Refuges, Dirks’ efforts restored more than 150 acres of bottomland hardwood forest and enhanced more than 250 acres of moist soil impoundments, including the installation of three wells. More than 1,200 acres of cropland were managed for wintering waterfowl.

“I hope to maintain the high quality land and wildlife management programs that have been the tradition at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge for a number of years,” saidDirks. “I would also like to expand the refuge’s interpretive and educational programs to inspire the next generation of land managers.”

Dirks holds an Associate of Science degree in biology from Dalton Jr. College in Georgia and a Bachelor ofScience degree in fish and wildlife management from Montana State University. He has served also as refuge manager of Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Manila, Arkansas, and as Assistant Manager of Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge in Martin, South Dakota and of Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge in Devils Lake, North Dakota.

“I grew up in Dalton, Georgia, just a couple of hours north of the refuge, so coming to Piedmont is almost like coming home,” said Dirks. “I have family and friends throughout the state, and look forward to being a little closer to home”

Dirks and his wife, Kim, have a two-year-old son, David, also known as “Hardy.” Dirks enjoys building custom furniture and restoring antique furniture, hunting, fishing, and spending time with family.

Established in 1939, Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is located 25 miles northeast of Macon and just east of the Ocmulgee River. Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge supports 39 active clusters of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. The refuge includes 35,000 acres of mixed pine and hardwood forest, bottomland hardwoods, creeks, streams, and managed ponds. Migratory waterfowl, songbirds, wading birds, wood ducks, wild turkeys and white-tailed deer are abundant. Over 60,000 people visit the refuge annually to observe wildlife, walk five miles of trails, fish, hunt turkey and deer, and follow the auto-tour route.

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 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management 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 Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

Clarke Dirks
Clarke Dirks

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