Which federal agency is responsible for 150 million acres of land? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), a bureau within the Department of the Interior, manages the 150 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which is made up of more than 550 National Wildlife Refuges and thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. Under its Fisheries program, it also operates 71 National Fish Hatcheries, 65 fishery resource offices and 86 ecological services field stations. It employs more than 9,000 people at facilities across the United States; its total FY 2012 budget was more than $2.4 million.
The service’s mission is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people; it is responsible for implementing and enforcing some of the nation’s most important environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The service, which was created in 1940 through the consolidation of the Bureau of Fisheries and the Bureau of Biological Survey into a single agency, has three primary objectives:
- To assist in the development and application of an environmental stewardship ethic, based on ecological principles, scientific knowledge of fish and wildlife, and a sense of moral responsibility;
- To guide the conservation, development and management of the nation’s fish and wildlife resources; and
- To administer a national program to provide the public opportunities to understand, appreciate and wisely use fish and wildlife resources.
FWS headquarters and central office operations are located within the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building at 1849 C St., N.W., in Washington, D.C. (This building, a project of the Public Works Administration from the Great Depression era, features a number of “firsts” for federal buildings: it was the first to have a central vacuum cleaning system, one of the earliest to be air conditioned, and one of the first to incorporate a parking garage.) In addition, some of the Service’s headquarters offices are located at 4401 North Fairfax Drive in Arlington, Virginia, near the Ballston Metrorail station. However, just last week GSA announced its request for Expressions of Interest to house the possible relocation of FWS from this location and two nearby buildings. The consolidated requirement is for approximately 223,000 rentable square feet of office space to be located within five miles of a Northern Virginia Metrorail station.
The service also has eight regional offices (in Albuquerque; Anchorage; Atlanta; Denver; Fort Snelling, Minn.; Hadley, Mass.; Portland, Or.; and Sacramento) and more than 700 field stations.