Moving from Brunswick? Wildlife Service Official Ponders Relocating Office

Article excerpt

BRUNSWICK -- J. Mitch King's western boots look a little out of

place.

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

state.

"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

species.

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

contaminants, he said. …