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RWB Wetland Management District Announces Staff Changes

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District says goodbye this month to two departing staff members and welcomes a new deputy project leader.

Brandon Jones has served for the last five years as the Deputy Project Leader at the Rainwater Basin WMD, working in all facets of refuge management in the wetland management district, with a focus on partnerships and administrative oversight of management techniques being utilized on the waterfowl production areas. He has accepted the Refuge Manager job in McGregor, Iowa the McGregor District of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The “Upper Miss Refuge” was established in 1924 and covers over 240,000 acres along 261 river miles in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. This broad forested floodplain is framed by 500 foot bluffs and is designated as a “nationally significant ecosystem.” Fish and wildlife abound with over 304 bird species, 57 mammal species, 134 fish species, and 44 mussel species, to name a few. Over 40% of the continent’s waterfowl use the river flyway during migration, with up to 50% of the world’s population of canvasbacks ducks using the refuge. Bald eagles are a common sight for visitors, with over 250 active nests within the refuge. Public use is high with over 3.7 million visitors enjoying fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, boating, and floating on the refuge each year. Numerous ongoing partnerships exist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, USGS, EPA, National Park Service, state DNRs, The Nature Conservancy, Upper Mississippi River Basin Association, state byway commissions, local communities, and several friends groups. The McGregor District Manager oversees management of 92,000 acres in Pools 9, 10 and 11 of the Upper Mississippi River as well as the talus algific slopes of the Driftless Area NWR. Hosting large magnitudes of waterfowl in the fall, nearly 200 eagle nests, a diverse freshwater mussel fauna and impressive furbearer populations, the McGregor District lies at the heart of the Upper Miss. Brandon was a great team leader and a joy to work with; his presence will be missed.

Damon Taylor moved to Minden, Nebraska from Medicine Lake, Montana in the fall of 2013. Throughout his tenure at Rainwater Basin WMD, he served as a Wildlife Refuge Specialist, managing a number of waterfowl production areas and assisting with the station’s various programs specializing in wetland and grassland restoration. Damon has accepted the Assistant Manager position at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge located in eastern Oklahoma. The refuge protects unique habitats found in the Arkansas River flood plain including bottomland hardwood forests and wetlands, home to many species of migratory birds and other resident wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, bobcat, beaver and the bald eagle. Damon was a true asset for not only the district, but also for the community of Minden where he resided. He most certainly will be missed.

Amy Coffman has accepted a new positon with the Rainwater Basin WMD. She will be the incumbent Deputy Project Leader, replacing Brandon Jones. Amy has worked with the USFWS since 2007, beginning her career in Montana at Lee Metcalf NWR, National Bison Range Refuge Complex, and Benton Lake Wetland Management District. Most recently, Amy has worked as a Wildlife Refuge Specialist in Kansas at Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge. She will begin in early 2017. Amy is married to husband TJ and has three children. She is very excited for the opportunity and is highly regarded among her peers. She will bring an easy going attitude and a relentless passion for the resource to the team.