[UPDATE] New Manager / Deputy Manager at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

By: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service News Release
By: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service News Release

[UPDATE] 12-1 8:25AM --

Mindy Gautreaux, a 13-year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the new deputy refuge manager of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Folkston, Georgia. She began her new duties on November 29, 2010. As deputy project leader she helps oversee activities on the 402.000-acre refuge, known as the largest one in the eastern United States.

“A native of Louisiana, Mindy has worked in the Southeast Region during her entire career,” says Cindy Dohner, Southeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “She previously worked at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge for three years, as well as at other refuges in Florida and Louisiana. Her experiences have prepared her well to return to Okefenokee as deputy refuge manager.”

For the last five years, Gautreaux served as the deputy project leader at the Central Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge in Marksville. There, she served as acting project leader for more than a year during 2006-2007. Gautreaux also established and coordinated an annual Youth Fishing Rodeo on Grand Cote NWR since 2005, and expanded youth deer hunting opportunities at Lake Ophelia NWR. She was successful in getting the Wildlife Trail located at Grand Cote NWR designated as a National Recreational Trail by the Secretary of the Interior in 2007, making it one of only four National Recreational Trails managed by the Service in the Southeast Region.

“I am very excited about returning to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and being a part of such a dynamic team of dedicated professionals,” Mindy Gautreaux says. “I look forward to having a part in conserving and educating the public about this vast wilderness area and forested lands so rich in resources, as well as being part of a community with such an interesting culture and history.”

Gautreaux’s goals as Okefenokee’s new deputy refuge manager are to utilize a teamwork approach in providing the tools, resources, and oversight necessary in assisting others fulfill their responsibilities; to pursue the goals and objectives outlined in the refuge's Comprehensive Conservation Plan; and to survive a canoe trip without falling into the swamp!

Prior to her work at the Central Louisiana NWR Complex, Gautreaux served as refuge manager for a year at Cat Island NWR in St. Francisville, Louisiana. From 2001 until 2005, she was a refuge operations specialist at A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR in Boynton Beach, Florida. During 2000, Gautreaux worked as a refuge operations specialist at the Chassahowitzka NWR Complex in Crystal River, Florida. She started her career with the Service in 1997 at Okefenokee NWR under the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) as a refuge manager trainee, and in 1999 she was promoted to a refuge operations specialist there.

A 1999 graduate of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Gautreaux holds a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management.
In her spare time, she enjoys camping with her husband, Kevin, and their two children. She also enjoys digital scrapbooking, cooking Cajun dishes, rooting for the LSU football team, and spending time with her family and friends.


Curt McCasland, a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
is the new refuge manager of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Folkston, Georgia. He began his new duties on October 12, 2010. As
project leader he oversees activities on the 402,000-acre refuge, known as the largest one in the eastern United States.

"We're excited that Curt brings his experience of working on a vast
refuge with specialized, unique habitats to Okefenokee National Wildlife
Refuge," says Cindy Dohner, Southeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "His nine years of experience at Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, located in the northern Sonoran desert, have prepared him well for the opportunities here in the Southeast."

For the past three years, McCasland served as manager at Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Ajo, Arizona. The 860,000-acre refuge is the third largest in the United States. As manager, he spearheaded recovery efforts for the endangered Sonoran pronghorn antelope and for the protection of bighorn sheep. He also led law enforcement efforts to stem the smuggling of people and contraband through the refuge bordering the United States and Mexico. He also surveyed the wilderness impacts resulting from these border issues and conducted bird surveys of the more than 100 bird species inhabiting the refuge. For three years, McCasland was the refuge's assistant manager, and for three years he worked as a wildlife biologist there.

Prior to his refuge experiences at Cabeza Prieta, McCasland worked as an endangered species biologist with the Service's Sacramento, California, Ecological Services Office, and as a biological technician with the U.S. Forest Service at the Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research in Stoneville, Mississippi.

McCasland holds a bachelor's degree in wildlife management from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, and a master's degree in
vertebrate zoology from the University of Memphis in Tennessee.

McCasland and his wife Fatima have three daughters.

Established in 1936, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is located
in is located in Ware, Charlton, and Clinch Counties, Georgia, and Baker
County, Florida. It protects a 438,000-acre swamp inside a saucer-shaped depression that was once part of the ocean floor. Native Americans named the area "Land of the Trembling Earth" because peat deposits cover most of the swamp floor, and these deposits are so unstable in some places that trees and bushes may tremble when someone stomps on the surface. The swamp includes a variety of habitats including marshes, prairies, cypress forests, lakes, and islands. A variety of birds and other wildlife can be seen on the refuge including red-cockaded woodpeckers, wood storks, ospreys, American alligators and bears. Visitors can enjoy boating, hunting, fishing, and wildlife observation, as well as many other activities.

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