RESTON, Va. (June 20, 2016) – This weekend, the National Wildlife Federation recognized Chad Karges and the staff of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge with a National Conservation Special Achievement Award.
“Chad Karges, his staff, and law enforcement are true American heroes. While most of us monitored the occupation of the refuge from afar, concerned but safe, these public servants faced this volatile situation defending our public lands with unwavering professionalism,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Despite the turmoil, Karges and the refuge staff are already back to doing what they do best – managing the refuge for the benefit of sandhill cranes and other wildlife.”
The recognition took place at the National Wildlife Federation’s annual meeting and 80th anniversary celebration, held in Estes Park, Colorado. The National Conservation Special Achievement Award recognizes an exemplary accomplishment in wildlife conservation.
“I’m honored to have received this award on behalf of the entire staff of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. During the occupation, we were heartened to see the strong support we had from the communities surrounding the refuge and from the American public at large,” said Chad Karges, manager of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. “Today, we’re back at work, restoring the damage done by the occupiers and working to remove invasive species from the refuge’s waters. We try every day to show Americans that their public lands are in good hands.”
Chad Karges, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge: National Conservation Award - Special Achievement
The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a spectacular place – a watery oasis in the high desert of southeast Oregon. It was originally protected in 1908 by President Teddy Roosevelt to protect its vital waters and migratory bird habitat from being further decimated by plume hunters. The refuge now covers nearly 190,000 acres and is a popular destination for birdwatchers, wildlife watchers, and hunters.
In early 2016, armed militants took over and occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters for 41 days. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service incurred over six million dollars in costs as a result of the Malheur occupation.
Chad Karges has been a supervisor at the Malhuer refuge since 1999. When he arrived, relationships with neighboring communities, ranchers, and landowners were strained. Karges and his staff took pains to communicate and collaborate with the community as much as possible, while meeting their obligations to manage the refuge for the public’s benefit.
The years of outreach paid off during the occupation. Members of local communities spoke out strongly against the out-of-town occupiers and highlighted the work Malheur refuge staff were doing to manage the refuge. In the end, the occupiers couldn’t have picked a worse spot to try to trigger an uprising against public lands.
For these reasons, the National Wildlife Federation is proud to recognize Chad Karges and his staff for managing the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in ways that can make Americans proud to have such strong public servants managing our lands and resources.
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