Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for the Rolling Stones and co-founder of MNN, interviews Noreen Clough, former Southeast regional director of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service, about the importance of having a single national wildlife refuge service. (Steve Bransford/Terminus Films)

National Wildlife Refuge series:


Chuck: Noreen Clough is with us now. And Noreen is a former Southeast regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and I think you had something like 120 refuges under your authority.
Noreen: At the time, which has been about 12 years ago. So it’s grown since then.

Chuck: Noreen, the Blue Goose Alliance, tell me about that. What is it?

Noreen: Well, it’s an organization that developed probably 10 or 11 years ago, maybe even longer than that, of retired National Wildlife Refuge System managers and others in the refuge system, who rightfully felt that the refuge system was becoming lost in the Fish and Wildlife Service due to the addition of so many program areas in the service that — its responsibilities for endangered species and Corps of Engineers programs for water and wetlands management. So, they got together and have consistently tried to bring to the attention of those in the Senate, in the House, in organizations, conservation organizations such as Audubon and others the importance of having a single National Wildlife Refuge Service versus it being part of the Fish and Wildlife Service. And, it has nothing to do with the organization of the service. It has more to do with the integrity of the National Wildlife Refuge System. There’s a park service for parks. BLM has its lands. Forest service manages its forests separately. So, a National Wildlife Refuge Service and the Department of the Interior seems only prudent. It would probably cost a little more. It should cost more in the Fish and Wildlife Service now. It’s not being properly funded now, partly because there’s only one pot. I mean, you have to divide it between all the Fish and Wildlife Service programs. It really is not getting justice. The service has not been able to take the time to, I don’t want to use the word advertise, but publicize and make known the refuge system. They try. They try in fits and starts, but again, they’ve got a lot of other competing interests. And the park service, you know, has the Parks and Recreation Association that supports it, and it gets some, you know, glossy magazines, and in a couple of weeks, there’s gonna be a documentary on TV about the Park Service and being established and …

Chuck: Ken Burns documentary.

Noreen: Ken Burns, exactly. Yeah. And I looked at that and I said, “Uh, huh. Where’s the one about the refuge system?” Which has a lot more land, by the way. It’s time to have a National Wildlife Refuge Service. I think it would flourish. I think it would flourish beautifully.

MNN homepage photo: Pardesi*/Flickr

In the Green Room: Noreen Clough talks about the wildlife refuge service
Video: Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for The Rolling Stones and the cofounder of MNN, finds out about the importance of having a single national wildlife refuge se