Policy Update Nov 16, 2021

NPCA support for Martha Williams to be Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

NPCA sent the following letter to Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing to consider the nomination of Martha Williams to be Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior. 

The National Parks Conservation Association supports the nomination of Martha Williams as the next Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Our national parks are symbols of conservation, historic preservation and our shared heritage. In the last four years, as we witnessed weakened protection for cultural resources, wildlife, waterways and the list goes on, the highest level of protection was not afforded to these incredible places. We can and must do better. The Biden-Harris Administration must address climate change head-on, ensure the federal government and our public lands are welcoming to diverse communities, and reverse damaging policies that put at risk the water, air, wildlife and other resources that make our parks world renowned.

America’s national parks are home to over 600 threatened and endangered species protected and recovering under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It is critical that the next USFWS Director is an experienced leader who brings a deep understanding of the ESA and values a collaborative approach to the recovery of America’s most at-risk species. We believe Williams meets these standards. Williams has served as an attorney for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Deputy Solicitor for Parks and Wildlife at the Department of the Interior, and a law professor at University of Montana. She most recently served as the Director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, where she built a reputation as a solutions-oriented consensus builder, with an understanding of the intersection of working lands, tribal lands, and wildlands as they relate to fish and wildlife management and decision-making. Williams clearly understands the importance of and legal framework behind the recovery of threated and endangered species as well as the real-world need for a collaborative approach. In her current role as Principal Deputy Director for USFWS, Williams has continued to take a balanced approach to wildlife management decisions, including the recent update of ESA habitat regulations to reflect the important role they play in species recovery at the landscape-scale.

The full story of America cannot be contained in a textbook or housed within a museum. The over 400 national parks, preserves, historic sites, seashores and more that comprise the National Park System begin to tell the story of the United States and its people. It is America’s legacy to future generations and to the world. But this story is still incomplete, and its chapters often face revision at the hands of environmental, ideological and human threats. The health and well-being of our national parks are directly tied to USFWS law, policy, and refuges, making the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service vital to the parks’ success.

We look forward to working with Martha Williams to ensure the best future for our national parks, and for the wildlife that call them home.