Using New Technology to Trace The Service’s Roots, November/December 2000

ou don’t have to travel all the way to the Service’s conservation museum in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to find information about the agency’s history.  In fact, you don’t even have to get up from your desk.  Just log on to the Internet and point your browser to http://nctc.fws.gov. There you’ll find an extensive collection of text, photos, historic documents and even motion pictures that form the Service’s high-tech heritage collection, “At the Forefront of Conservation.”  The site is maintained by Mark Madison, the Service’s historian.

Currently featured on the history Web site is a special project commemorating the centennial of the Lacey Act and examining the evolution of Service law enforcement over the past 100 years.  Visitors to the site can read a biography of Congressman John Lacey, who authored the Lacey Act, and see a timeline of Service law enforcement milestones. The site also presents a "virtual exhibit" on Olaus and Mardy Murie.  Olaus Murie worked for the Service in the 1940s and following his retirement he and his wife, Mardy, were active in a variety of conservation causes.  They both were involved with a 1956 expedition that proved key to building support to establish Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In celebration of the upcoming centennial of the National Wildlife Refuge System in 2003, the site showcases the first refuge, Florida’s Pelican Island.  The virtual exhibit includes photos of Paul Kroegel, the first manager of Pelican Island, along images of his family and of the spectacular birds he so passionately protected.

The Pelican Island online exhibit also incorporates a narrative history of the refuge, a map of the island and surrounding area, and a reproduction of the field notes from the original 1902 government survey of Pelican Island.  The surveyor never submitted his notes, preventing Pelican Island from being homesteaded and paving the way for it to become the first wildlife refuge the following year.

  The history Web site serves as the virtual archives for the Fish and Wildlife Service with “Conservation Visions,” a collection of images from the conservation archives located at the training center.  "Conservation Visions" includes a number of historic images and even film footage from 1915 of President Teddy Roosevelt visiting early bird sanctuaries (precursors to national wildlife refuges.)

“At the Forefront of Conservation” features more than just history.  The site also serves as a bulletin board to announce upcoming history-related events at the National Conservation Training Center.  The center will host a symposium titled “Rachel Carson and the Conservation Movement: Past, Present and Future” on August 10-12, 2001; you can find the tentative program for this unique event on the Web site.

In addition, the site lists upcoming installments in NCTC’s "Conservation and Community" lecture series.

Those who have not had a chance to visit the poignant Fallen Comrades Memorial at the training center can see a photo of the memorial and access a list of all of the Service employees who died in the line of duty.

The jam-packed history site also contains:

  • photos of former Service directors
  • a list (with biographies in the works) of conservation heroes such as Edward Abbey and David Brower
  • transcripts of interviews with retirees conducted through the Service Oral History Project
  • agency press releases dating to 1914
  • information about the Service’s Heritage Committee
  • links to previous "Exploring Our Past" columns from Fish and Wildlife News
  • a list of exhibits on display at the conservation museum in Shepherdstown So take a few minutes out of your busy day... grab a cup of coffee...  relax... and take a journey back in time.

--Rachel F. Levin, Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.