BRUNSWICK -- J. Mitch King's western boots look a little out of
King recently moved from Bozeman, Mont., to take over as field
supervisor at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Ecological
Services Office in Brunswick.
If King decides to switch to the boat shoes that are more
common in coastal Georgia, he might find himself changing shoes
again in a few years.
That's because one of his first objectives is to decide if he
should move his operation to a more central location in the
"The location of this office, here in Brunswick, may have been
the best place for it years ago," he said. But now, the demands
for the agency's expertise are coming from many other places.
His office, which has nine full-time employees, determines the
environmental impact of development throughout Georgia on
migratory birds, endangered and threatened species, and
protected lands like wildlife refuges and national parks.
It also educates people on environmental issues and helps
preserve and create habitats for wildlife.
For King, Southeast Georgia's most-pressing concern is obvious:
protection of endangered species, especially through the
preservation of habitats in the Okefenokee Swamp, the Altamaha
River basin and other coastal areas.
But there also are needs in Georgia's mountainous areas, where
development also threatens some endangered fish and mussel
To work on a project in Northwest Georgia, a wildlife biologist
has to drive seven hours one way, which means the worker would
spend two days traveling rather than in the field collecting
specimens or water samples, King said.
King, who moved to Brunswick in January to take over an office
that had been leaderless for more than a year, said he is
considering moving to Athens because it's geographically closer
to Georgia's center and the more heavily populated northern
third of the state.
Athens also is home to the University of Georgia and a U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency office that has a well-equipped
lab to test animal tissue and air, water and soil samples for