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CONSERVATION NEWS


J. Steven Griles

GRILES' LEADERSHIP PRAISED - Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton recently received with regret the resignation letter to the President from J. Steven Griles, the Department's deputy secretary. The Deputy Secretary is the number two position at the Department of the Interior. In his resignation letter to the President, Griles wrote, “In 2001, you paid me the highest compliment by nominating me to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Interior. It has been a great honor to serve within your Administration, which recognizes that for conservation efforts to be successful the government must involve the people who live and work on the land.” In accepting Griles' letter, Norton wrote back to him, “Yours is the letter I hoped would never come.” She said Griles' work has been outstanding and that he will be greatly missed and she reflected on what his position has meant to the Department and how much they have been able to accomplish with their close partnership: “We have moved federal relations with the West from antagonism to cooperative conservation. We have helped implement the National Energy Policy. We have improved the health of public land forests and rangelands, and enhanced wildlife refuges and our national parks. We have advanced federal water policy and resolved conflicts where possible. I know that the frustrations of Indian Trust litigation have taken a toll on you and the other dedicated employees who labored countless evenings and weekends with you. You have done an exemplary job on the difficult task of improving Interior's performance in upholding our fiduciary obligations to American Indians. Without your perseverance and focused commitment, we would never have achieved so much progress.” Griles also wrote the President that he believes the strong foundation of cooperative conservation will be enhanced during the second term. “As a son of Virginia, I have enjoyed working to promote cooperative conservation and to appropriately include local participation in Federal decision-making. Our effort to treat local governments as cooperating partners has resulted in better decisions that are broadly supported by local communities.” Griles will return to private life at the end of January or sooner if a replacement is confirmed. The Deputy Secretary came to Interior in July 2001 from National Environmental Strategies, Inc. a consulting firm. Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President for Public, Environmental and Marketing Activities for the United Company, a diversified natural resources company. His extensive government service includes the positions of Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Lands and Minerals Management (1983 to 1989). From 1981 to 1983, Griles was Deputy Director of Interior's Office of Surface Mining. Before joining the Department, he was Executive Assistant Director at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Economic Development (1970 to 1981). Altogether, Griles has spent more than 22 years in public service. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology with a minor in economics from the University of Richmond in 1970 and performed graduate work at Virginia Commonwealth University.

LONGLEAF PINE HANDBOOK NOW AVAILABLE - The Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation, or Wildlife Mississippi as it is commonly called, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mississippi Land Trust, have recently released a new handbook titled Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine: A Handbook for Mississippi Landowners. The handbook is an easy read, yet provides methods for restoring longleaf pine, the economic value of longleaf compared to loblolly pine and the various cost-share assistance programs for paying for the reforestation of longleaf. The reforestation of this type of pine is extremely important. An estimated 60 million acres of longleaf have existed throughout the Southeast in the past; today, approximately 2 percent of that original acreage of longleaf exists. This decline is due to numerous factors that include land clearing for agriculture and development, replacement of harvested stands with loblolly and slash pine and the overall reduction in the use of fire as a management tool. Today, longleaf only occupies approximately 255,000 acres in Mississippi, with the majority of acreage occurring in Forrest, Lamar and Perry counties. Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine was designed with private landowners in mind who might be considering restoring a stand of longleaf. Properly established and managed longleaf pine can have economic advantages over other species of southern pine, including loblolly pine. Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine covers a variety of topics. There is an introduction describing longleaf, an overview of the benefits of longleaf and the different types of forest classifications of longleaf. According to Randy Browning, a fish and wildlife biologist with the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the primary author of the handbook, “The handbook gives one an overview of planning for a longleaf pine stand, such as goals, site selection and the use of fire.” Management methods along with the pests and diseases associated with longleaf are discussed. The economic advantages of growing longleaf over other pines are discussed. The landowner may also be interested in managing his or her land for wildlife. The different types of management styles for the species of wildlife that the landowner is interested in is discussed. There are a diversity of species of wildlife that live in this ecosystem and the management technique needs to be considered. Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine also gives an overview of the different financial assistance programs that are available to the landowner. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of this handbook, please call Wildlife Mississippi's main office at (662) 686-3375 or send a written request to Wildlife Mississippi, P.O. Box 10, Stoneville, MS 38776.

CHOCTAWS HOST SOUTHEAST PRACTICUM - The Southeast Region Summer Youth Practicum for 2004 was a success. They had 25 students from five Tribes in the Southeast. The Tribes represented were: Catawba Indian Nation, Kaw Nation of Oklahoma, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Jena Band of Choctaw Indians of Louisiana, Poarch Creek Tribe of Alabama, and two Non-Native American Students who are the sons of Lisa McCormick, who helps each year with the Summer Youth Practicum and the regional conferences. Essays were written by the students on the last afternoon of the practicum. They had a variety of age levels, therefore, they were written according to the age of the student. They had the opportunity to utilize the assistance of one of their former students, Ms. Ashley Wesley, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, who served as a counselor and a teacher. Each morning she gave a 30-minute class on the Choctaw language. The students enjoyed learning about the Choctaw language and one of the students, Ms. Hestina York helped Ashley with singing Choctaw songs. Funding for the Summer Youth Practicum came from a grant of $5,000 from the U.S. Forest Service in the Southeast Region. Other funding sources were from the regional training dollars and the scholarship fund. Many sponsorships came through donations of time such as: USDA-NRCS, USDA-APHIS, USFWS; tribal employees from Catawba, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians; Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island, Jena Band of Choctaw Indians; individual donations by Cecilia Flores of Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas; Aardvark promotions; Pepsi Bottling of Rock Hill, South Carolina; Wal-mart of Rock Hill, South Carolina; and Staples Office Superstore of Rock Hill, South Carolina. The summer program would not be possible if it had not been for these partnerships developed for the benefit of the students. Many of the students expressed their desire to hold the Summer Youth Practicum next year and they would support the effort by attending or encouraging other youth from their tribe(s) to attend. This is the third year the Southeast region has held a summer youth practicum. With funding efforts, they hope to continue holding a summer youth practicum.

WILBUR NEW MDEQ INFORMATION DIRECTOR - Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Executive Director Charles Chisolm has named Robbie Wilbur as the Director of MDEQ Information Center. “I am pleased Robbie has agreed to assume these additional duties at the MDEQ. His background in state and local government as well as past public affairs work will serve the agency well,” Chisolm said. Wilbur is currently the state coordinator for the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) and state coordinator for Take Pride in Mississippi. He will retain those positions. Wilbur is originally from Columbus, Mississippi, and a graduate of the University of Alabama. His past experience includes public affairs for U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in Washington, D.C., five years working for working for former Governor Kirk Fordice including two as Press Secretary and State Coordinator for Bush-Cheney campaign for Mississippi in 2000. From 2001 to 2003, he served as a political appointee for the Bush Administration at the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., and in 2003 worked for the Haley Barbour for Governor Campaign as Field Director.

REED NAMED ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF MDEQ - Brandon resident Clovis Reed, was named Assistant Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) effective Friday, October 1, 2004. Reed holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Mississippi and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Mississippi College. He has served as County Administrator in four Mississippi counties, including Rankin County, and also served as Executive Director of the Claiborne County Port Commission and as a Commissioner on Mississippi River Parkway Commission. In 1998 he was named as one of the Top 40 under 40 by the Mississippi Business Journal. Charles Chisolm, Executive Director of MDEQ said, “I look forward to Clovis Reed joining MDEQ as Assistant Director. His experience and knowledge in both government and environmental issues will be a great asset to the agency.”

MISSISSIPPI ATLAS & GAZETTEER UPDATED - The Mississippi Atlas & Gazetteer, a trusted reference in Magnolia State households since 1998, now includes 5,000 updated road names in its newest edition. The new road names are attributable in part to changes mandated under the federal Emergency 9-1-1 system. Previously, many of these roads were unmarked, or their names were changed to conform to 9-1-1 guidelines. Additional new road names came from the 2000 US Census results and from the continually-updated DeLorme database of streets and roads nationwide. The Mississippi Atlas & Gazetteer is a one-of-a-kind resource, combining topographic maps of the entire state and recreation information in a handy book format. The maps are at a scale of 1:182,000, or one inch to 2.9 miles. To put that in perspective, a mosaic of all the maps would measure approximately 6 feet wide and 10.5 feet high. By using such a large scale, DeLorme mapmakers are able to show an exceptional level of detail, including back roads, dirt roads and trails, hidden lakes and streams, boat ramps, dams, campgrounds, forests, marshes and swamps, airports and landing strips, powerlines and pipelines. The maps use both shaded relief and elevation contours to depict the terrain. The shaded relief provides a highly defined look at the lay of the land. The elevation contours are at 80-foot foot intervals. In the Gazetteer section, users will find a wealth of information on places to go and things to see and do - everything from family outings to backcountry adventures. There are 11 gazetteer categories in all, including attractions/museums, campgrounds, casinos, fishing, golf courses, historic sites, hunting, recreation areas, scenic drives, trails and unique natural features. The Mississippi Atlas & Gazetteer contains 64 pages in all, including 47 pages of maps. A quality paperback, it measures 11" x 15.5" and is the ideal reference for the home, office or vehicle. The Mississippi Atlas & Gazetteer is available wherever maps, books or sporting goods are sold. For the name of a dealer near you, or to order direct from the publisher, call 800-561-5105. You can also order online at www.delorme.com.