Dear U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Employees: We Support You!

Below is a letter from the National Wildlife Refuge Association and the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to our friends and colleagues at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

To the Employees of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service:

The National Wildlife Refuge Association and the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge support you, the public servants who have dedicated your lives to conserving, enhancing, and restoring our natural resources. We share your frustration and concern about the current situation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Like you, we wish to see this conflict resolved peacefully and quickly.

However, we also understand that there is a lot we do not know about the situation and the considerations that law enforcement professionals are managing. While this is frustrating, our first concern is for the safety of Service staff and their families, along with the nearby community.

As this plays out, we all must contemplate what we as public land stewards can do to address the underlying issues that played a role in creating this standoff. But just as importantly, we must speak up about the great progress that has been made at Malheur and other refuges to resolve conflicts and improve the collaborative spirit of our conservation efforts.

While we acknowledge current conservation and collaborative efforts are far from perfect, we also strive to improve the quality of our partnerships with ranchers, farmers, business interests, and private landowners. With each new partnership, we gain opportunities to learn how to better existing and future conservation efforts. As many of you know, successful conservation requires strong partnerships, and the foundation of these partnerships is based on trust, honesty, and collaboration.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Ore. | Caroline Brouwer
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Ore. | Caroline Brouwer

Public lands are sacred. These lands consist of the rivers where veterans fly fish to assist in the healing process from PTSD, the marshes where a dad takes his son or daughter hunting for the first time, the coastal prairies where birdwatchers catch their first glimpse of an Aplomado Falcon, the open grasslands that become a child’s first memory of an outdoor classroom, and the lands where ranchers teach their children about the history of responsible land stewardship. They are lands that provide a place of solace and safety for everyone. They also contribute to thriving local communities.

Let’s not allow the unlawful acts of a small group of angry individuals impede the progress that thousands of employees at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continue to make to sustain healthy lands, waters, and wildlife in collaboration with ranchers, farmers and other community members across this nation.

The time has come for this conflict at Malheur to end, and we at the National Wildlife Refuge Association and the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge intend to urge leaders in Congress and the Administration to resolve this standoff quickly and bring those responsible to justice.

Your experiences in the field working in collaboration with ranchers, farmers, sportsmen and environmentalists are testament to the fact that the National Wildlife Refuge System is a big tent with room for all Americans. Help us share these success stories to help drown out the noise coming from a small minority.

We posted this letter on the National Wildlife Refuge Association blog so that you can share your collaborative conservation story in the comments. We want to show the American public what collaborative conservation is all about!

On behalf of our respective staffs and boards, and the thousands of refuge supporters we represent, thank you for your service.


David Houghton, President and Rebecca Rubin, Board Chair, National Wildlife Refuge Association

Tim Blount, Executive Director and Gary Ivey, President, Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2016/01/dear-u-s-fish-wildlife-service-employees-we-support-you/


  1. jb says:

    How is taking over public land and buildings on the refuge, with guns no less, any different from taking the White House?

  2. Nancy J Curry says:

    Thank you NWRA for your continued support for Malheur NWR and all of our national wildlife refuges! I too think it is time f or this armed invasion of Malheur to come to an end. It is time for the staff to get back to the work of the USFWS and their management of the refuge. It is difficult to understand why it has not already been resolved. Though I understand the need to ensure no violence occurs. Anything you can do to help facilitate a return to normalcy there would be appreciated.

  3. tom rusert says:

    Sonoma Birding have worked with SF Bay NWR COmplex and several other NWR’s across the U.S. that offer public education. The two areas of collaboration are The “Christmas Bird Count for Kids” and the Federal Junior Duck Stamp program. The CBC4Kids has engaged hundreds of youngsters across the country in multiple locations in this half day family centered event. The NWRS are great partners and community collaborators that promote “Citizen Science” at their many locations. This is particularly effective because of the wide range of habitats, the safe learning environments, the quality facilities and excellent staff and related “Friends” organizations. The NWRS is one of the best and most enduring and sustainable investments the American public has every made!

  4. amber says:

    Thank you National Wildlife Refuge Association and the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for standing up for the public lands and wonderful organizations that keep them in stewardship for all Americans! The few misguided individuals who cannot seem to understand the purpose of these public lands do not speak for the majority of the population, especially those that appreciate and love the open vistas, wonderful birding and nature watching opportunities, and the opportunity to stay in the bunkhouse at Malheur!
    I hope this standoff comes to an end quickly, it has gone on long enough and the damage being done can hopefully be repaired!
    I can only pray that the bulldozing has not damaged any precious artifacts…

  5. Richard Spotts says:

    After the infamous April 2014 Cliven Bundy Bunkerville standoff, the FBI and Justice Department completely dropped the ball and thereby set the stage for the Malheur illegal occupation. Let’s hope they have learned from their mistakes and will arrest and fully prosecute all the armed and dangerous occupiers as well as the accessories who gave them financial and other support. I expect the NWRA to closely monitor this situation and to hold the FBI and DOJ leaders accountable if they start to back off or weaken the criminal charges.

    1. Kathy Sylvester says:

      Thank you for your positive support of the Malheur refuge. I was so pleased to finally see some action on the part of both local and FBI in helping to conclude this ridiculous takeover. Taking over the Refuge is no different than any other federal structure or land. This insurrection business needs to end. Totally agree with Richard Spotts statements.

    2. Margot says:

      So glad that Richard Spotts is still an environmental activist with so much technical information to share. It would be great to connect with him again about what is going on in his old home town, Montebello, California. There is a continuing effort he started long ago, to stop the last remaining hill from being flattened. If a proposed housing tract on top of an active oil field gets to be started, the name of the city would have to be changed to Plateau Feo!!!!!
      My email is available at http://www.saveourmontebellohills.com

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