Choosing A Conservation Vocation or a Bureaucratic Career:
Personal Choices and
the Environmental Consequences

Book by Richard (Dick) Kroger
609 North Road 11, Worland, WY 82401
307-347-3047
E-mail:
krogers@rtconnect.net

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Book Excerpts

CONTENTS

 DEDICATION………………………………………………………………………… 11

 CHAPTER I – The Need For This Book?........................................................................15

 CHAPTER II – What Is A Conservation Vocation?……………………………………21

 CHAPTER III – Experiences In The Field Of Conservation ………………………….. 27

                  High School, Army, And College Years, 1954-67…………………………..27

                   National Marine Fisheries Service, North Carolina, 1967-74……………….30

                   Fish And Wildlife Service, California, 1974-79……………………………..40

                   Bureau Of Land Management, Wyoming, 1979-88…………………………50

                   Fish And Wildlife Service, North Dakota, 1988-94…………………………71

                   Retirement, Minnesota And Wyoming, 1994-Present……………………….86

 CHAPTER IV – Preparing For A Conservation Vocation……………………………..114

 CHAPTER V – Choosing A Natural Resource Employer……………………………...124

 CHAPTER VI – Guidance For Conservation Vocationists…………………………….135

 CHAPTER VII – Necessary Changes In The Conservation Field……………………..156

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR……………………………………………………………….168

 BIBLIOGRAPHY………………………………………………………………………174

 


 Chapter I

 The Need For This Book?

      As far as I know, no book has ever been written explaining the primary reasons why government conservation and environmental agencies do such a poor job of managing and protecting our natural resources.  Likewise, no book has ever been written which presents the basic philosophical changes necessary in our conservation/environmental agencies and their employees in order to help rectify this inherently human-based problem. --- Thousands of these people toil for lifetimes and undergo severe mental anguish while trying to protect our natural resources from needless degradation caused by agency bureaucratic careerists pursuing personal goals of…
     This book is mostly based on my individual experiences and observations of the personal and professional ethics of others working in the field of natural resources. --- Most bad natural resource decisions were made by “successful” bureaucratic careerists in the conservation agencies.  These careerists were dedicated mostly to their own selfish career goals for advancement to higher levels of pay, prestige, and power (status), and they were the ones most often promoted.  Those few who were primarily dedicated to the proper conservation of natural resources seldom advanced to the higher levels of responsibility, regardless of qualifications.
     I coined the title “Conservation Vocationist” to differentiate those dedicated to proper natural resource management from the “Bureaucratic Careerists” who work in the field of conservation but instead are motivated by their own selfish personal interests. --- I could not bring myself to believe our government conservation agencies were infiltrated mostly by professional natural resource specialist who consistently put their own selfish interests ahead of environmental ethics.  There is a great need for all those people interested in the sound conservation of our natural resources to know that this rampant problem exists. ---Both agency and non-profit conservation vocationists are at a significant disadvantage when trying to resolve natural resource issues if they fail to recognize why bad decisions are routinely made within government organizations.
      In this country, at least several hundred thousand professional natural resource specialists work in conservation and environmental fields.  The general lack of a conservation ethic within most of these people has caused more needless environmental degradation than any other single factor, especially in federal and state agencies.  This unnecessary degradation can only be stemmed by educating natural resource specialists and the public about the differences between conservation vocationists and those who are bureaucratic careerists.
     In summary, there are seven primary reasons why I have written this book.  The first is … The only measures of conservation success in this life are… These legacy opportunities might be…  If you have personal happiness and contentment while working on your legacy mission, so much the better.

 


CHAPTER II

 What Is A Conservation Vocation?

      In most professions, there is a vast philosophical difference between people with a vocation and those with a career, and the decision making processes of each are fundamentally different.  Likewise, vocationists and careerists perceive success in completely different ways.
     “Vocation” comes from the Latin root word “vocare” and when used in the religious sense means, “a lifetime of discipleship.”  Webster defines a vocation as, “A calling or a summons to a particular way of life” or…  My use of the word in the conservation context is, “A lifelong calling to conserve all our natural resources or all of God’s creations.”
     Webster’s definition of a career is described as, “A person’s general course of progress in some profession.”  Another is…  The third and fourth definitions add more clarity.  These are, “Success in a profession” and, “A swift course.”  Careerist is defined as, “A person who pursues advancements, often at the cost of one’s integrity.”
     The title, “military career,” probably best describes what most of us identify within the dictionary definitions. --- Conversely, the only soldiers with clear consciences are the ones who refused to follow inhumane/illegal orders and risked their own lives and careers to protect the innocent.  The seldom told My Lai massacre story of the Vietnam War is about 24-year old helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, who assumed the highest moral responsibility.  He landed in the burning village and even ordered his two machine gunners to fire on the U.S. soldiers, if necessary to save the few remaining civilian survivors.  Conservation vocationists must take the same kind of risks and defy/defuse bad decisions and orders to ensure that our natural resources are protected from needless, illegal, and immoral destruction.
     In general, it is fear that tends to drive careerist decisions.  They suffer overwhelming fears of being … As a result, their decisions are always made so these fears do not become reality.  In retrospect, I now find it much easier to understand the careerists I knew by looking back at them as fearful people just trying to protect their self interests.
     Many such careerists in the USFS have recently been stepping forward with public statements denouncing their agency’s continuing negative resource policies. --- These people, however, are privately shunned by the agency’s remaining die-hard bureaucratic careerists, just like the mafia condemns their snitches and turn-coats.
     A conservation vocation is forever and continues to the end of one’s life, regardless of pay.  Time spent on natural resource issues by bureaucratic careerists end with retirement, unless they continue to be paid and/or there is power and prestige associated with their participation.
     Bureaucratic careerists are not bad people, and there are some whom I have called friends.  In fact, they would have to be considered more normal than conservation vocationists if viewed strictly by our society’s criteria for judging success.  They thrive on respecting all authority, following orders, working in structured organizations, reading the political winds, and mimicking their supervisors/leaders. --- Their psychological make-up prevents them from disputing authority, regardless of how blatantly wrong or environmentally destructive an agency decision may be.

 


CHAPTER III

Experiences In The Field Of Conservation

      Philosophical discussions in Chapter II about basic differences among conservation vocationists and bureaucratic careerists are sometimes difficult to grasp without specific references to real life situations.  The following personal experiences and those of others I discuss may one day help readers better understand inherent problems they will face within the field of natural resources.  The stories should also provide additional insight about the life-long joys and tribulations of conservation vocationists within …
     This personal history also documents the philosophical evolution of my life.  It begins as a high school student with a dream… and finally to that of a “combat biologist.”  In the latter role, I picked up the perpetual torch of a conservation vocationist committed to…

High School, Army, And College Years, 1954-67 

     Successful bureaucratic careerists are the ultimate brown-nosers within natural resource agencies.  In order to rapidly climb the career ladder without doing their fair share of natural resource work, they constantly strive to impress their supervisors in other ways.  Many of them learn their brown-nosing techniques in school while trying to get better grades than they earned.  “Nosing,” as it is often called, was also the primary method for rapid advancement in the peacetime military. --- The consummate nosers were no better in college and were always asking professors questions to which they themselves already knew the answers.
     Exposure to vocationists and careerists first occurred in college, although I did not recognize the differences at the time.  Students just called them good or worthless professors. --- My first exposure to a professional conservation vocationist occurred in 1963 during summer employment with South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks. --- I was sufficiently impressed at the time with Keith that I later applied to his alma mater for a graduate research assistantship to study under his former advisor, Dr. Baxter.
     I also learned about some of the inherent dangers of being a biologist that summer. --- As the fire trucks and ambulances speeded by on the winding canyon road, a fisherman told me, “I bet that plane crashed.  It sounded like it was missing when it came over a half hour ago.” --- Part of my original assigned work responsibilities for the summer included being the airplane observer, but susceptibility to severe air sickness had made that impossible. --- Also, Keith was extremely careful, almost to a fault, when we electro-fished that summer because…

National Marine Fisheries Service, North Carolina, 1967 – 74 

     I set off with my wife, three children, and a master’s degree in zoology/fisheries from a land-locked, inter-mountain west university to become a coastal marine fishery research biologist in Beaufort, North Carolina.  My responsibility, along with that of six other new biologists, was to help determine the migrations and population dynamics of Atlantic and Gulf menhaden along the coasts from Maine to Mexico.  Menhaden still support the largest commercial fisheries in the United States. --- To prevent misleading readers about the life of a biologist, it is important to first describe a typical day, week, or month during these seven years.
     During my first year’s performance evaluation session with our young Ph.D. supervisor, I voiced concern that some of the other new biologists spent most of their time brown-nosing him.  He acknowledged his awareness of the behavior and said he was trying to rectify the problem.  When he asked me why I did not participate in any nosing, I replied … This was his first recognition of a positive type of nosing which …
     Universal recognition of massive menhaden over-fishing existed, but there were only occasional office discussions among the biologists about the need to publicize the over-fishing data and force National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to implement regulations to protect the dwindling stock from decimation. --- None of the research biologists thought it was their responsibility to press for the long-term protection and proper management of this ecologically and economically important species. --- Concern about estuarine degradation only became an issue in our research laboratory when someone’s personal weekend oyster or scallop harvesting areas were temporarily closed because of local pollution.
     Edicts were sent to us from our Washington, D.C., headquarters to be only loyal researchers and to avoid any crossover into the politically-hot … Although Atlantic menhaden annually migrate across state lines along the coast from Maine to Florida, no one in the agency dared to take on the powerful menhaden industry.  It was controlled by a few families, much like the mafia.
     We got a pre-release copy of the paper and the article quoted him and me as saying, “Atlantic menhaden were over-fished and in need of management.” --- My crew leader made calls to our laboratory to inform our careerist supervisors of the apparent pending disaster.  A plan was formulated to… It was too late to implement the plan, though, and the paper was distributed in the local commercial fishing communities. --- We anxiously waited for our career-destroying repercussions from the menhaden industry…
     The powerful political influence within the menhaden industry existed because its owners viewed the public menhaden resource as their own.  The rich and powerful owners had political access to their congressional delegation, and, as a result, direct influence on the bureaucratic careerist leadership within NMFS.  No regulations could be implemented at the time without the consent of the industry owners. --- Whenever influential people and powerful industries have political access to a few legislators, they can bring overwhelming direct personal pressure on government agency leaders.  This power can be used to prevent any natural resource decisions or management actions that might impact their industries’ short-term profit margins. --- Bureaucratic careerists learn early and quickly to follow the directions from above even it means ignoring agency regulations or breaking the law.  They also learn to --- This latter trait is most destructive because agencies become permanently entrenched in protecting the industry’s…
    
Measurement of career success and prestige in most research organizations, in addition to career advancement, is primarily gauged by how many scientific articles are published in peer-reviewed journals.---The referee from the third journal, however, wrote that my article was great because the Europeans had long recognized the sampler’s limitations, and now an American had fully documented its shortcomings.  Clearly, persistence is often needed to overcome the egos and paradigms of powerful career scientist in many fields, especially fish and wildlife.
     The program leader reluctantly included me as a junior author after a heated confrontation. I bucked the old-line establishment after that by including the names of every deserving person when I was the senior researcher or author of a published report.  The establishment became even more irked when I…
      The normal average rate of publication in our laboratory was about one research paper every two or three years for the old desk-bound biologists.  In such a situation, one’s ego and level of prestige can be artificially enhanced by…  This competitiveness also led to…  I later came to realize that making others look bad as a way to enhance one’s own image is a common practice within the bureaucratic careerist agencies.
     A new office editorial board was formed specifically to curtail Jim’s and my efforts.  We had turned out about ten publications in a few years and had six more in the review mill.  The new board’s first edict was, “No additional manuscripts can be initiated without permission of the board.”  --- My able technician assistant and I had… and we even rubbed a little salt on the wounded egos of the old desk-bound biologists. --- Publication of “Schooling habits of injured and parasitized menhaden” (a.k.a., “Fish Hospitals”) in the esteemed Journal of Ecology was too much for the desk-bound careerist biologists to accept. ---We rubbed more salt into their wounds when, under the cover of darkness, I…  Luckily, I had already received an official promotion by this time to project leader of the juvenile menhaden tagging and relative abundance project for both the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
     As an example of the breadth of our research area, we had to drive for three 16-hour days to reach our first Gulf sampling site at the Mexican border. --- Although told that nothing we did was worth risking our lives over, we continued to run Gulf night surveys at full throttle through the sinuous, clear-water bayous which were infested with water moccasins, rattlesnakes, and alligators.  My heart felt like it had jumped up into my throat many nights after… The Atlantic Coast field trips were…
     Promotions, however, were another cutthroat, subjectively-controlled, and frustrating process in our laboratory, which…  Our new director of the Menhaden Laboratory immediately required all his biologists to list and to explain the significance of everything they had done in the previous five years.  After my one-on-one session with the new director, I received the long-overdue promotion within a month.  Shortly thereafter, Jim, my proficient technician assistant, received the well-deserved promotion which he had been promised for years.  He had been perpetually held back and ridiculed by the desk-bound biologist for which he worked and whom he made look good.
     The Esturarine and Menhaden Laboratories had evolved into a structured caste system before I arrived.  The unwritten rule was that only “Doctors” would be allowed to become Program Leaders and Assistant and Laboratory Directors in the future, regardless of the non-Ph.D.s’ proven abilities and experience. --- This rule prompted many with only a master’s degree to pursue doctorates.  They returned a year later from their government-paid schooling and thesis research with a new sheepskin.  Although they possessed no new skills or abilities, they had somehow been miraculously cleansed to allow ascension to the prestigious top rungs of the careerist, research ladder.
     This program leader was a master at talking incessantly, wasting our time, and trying to brown-nose the new Laboratory Director.  Fifteen years later, however, he had risen several points on the competence scale to make room for a couple more of my subsequent bureaucratic careerist supervisors who were well below him.  Regardless of how incompetent a careerist supervisor might be, the replacements may be worse.
     My first program leader, the same age as me except… was a rising star in the NMFS.  He left our laboratory for a GS-14 promotion to head up the…  About two years later, and after an especially disturbing meeting with his bureaucratic careerist superiors in Washington, D.C., he returned home and…  This is certainly not what one would expect from a wide-eyed energetic young man pursuing his “supposed” careerist dream.
     Major SNAFUs (situation normal all fouled-up) often exist in research agencies, and the Menhaden Laboratory had one. --- I reluctantly accepted office policy after realizing our manuscript with the important comparisons of… would not be allowed to leave the laboratory if it made reference to the inner ring problem. --- None of the office’s editorial policy makers ever figured out how the subdued admission statement about the inner ring problem slipped by them, or at least they never admitted it. --- As I left the Beaufort NMFS office for the last time, there was an uneasy feeling that…  The laboratory careerists got in their final lick, and our unpublished manuscript and data continue to yellow in file drawers over 35 years later. 

Fish and Wildlife Service, California, 1974-79

     My new position as a “combat biologist” with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) was difficult and challenging, so I could not dwell on the fact that I had lost the last major battle within the Menhaden Laboratory.  The charge for the Division of River Basin Studies (later became the Division of Ecological Services) Sacramento office was to stop the needless habitat destruction being caused by the…  My new supervisor, Felix Smith, was the first true-blue conservation vocationist I had ever met.--- Such a person as Felix strikes fear in the minds of bureaucratic careerists.  I was told that many of the previous biologists had transferred out of the Sacramento office when they heard Felix had been selected as their new supervisor.--- Felix told me that my selection had been an easy one; he just…  This illustrates that jobs are probably more often obtained in the conservation field as a result of…
     The typical hectic days, weeks, and months during my five years with the FWS in Sacramento included hundreds of…  The only activity similar to the relaxed NMFS office atmosphere was the…  A couple of years after my arrival, Felix asked me if I knew anyone who could effectively take over a key position that was going to be vacated through retirement.  I gave Felix the phone number, and he called and offered my friend the position that very minute.
     Felix had many saying that guided his actions and expectations.  Some of these were…   Our official FWS government business cards included the old English quatrain... These business cards let the money-minded developers immediately know who we were, whom and what we represented, and in essence, from where we were coming during our negotiations. --- Felix’s back-handed marching orders and early encouragements forced me to work quickly and go far beyond my level of comfort and expertise; I had to become more dynamic and confident, and overcome many fears.
     As newly-commissioned “combat biologists,” we often felt overwhelmed when doing battle at meetings with powerful county commissioners, mayors, and state and federal legislators who represented millions of people in the politically-motivated subdivisions of the Bay area. --- In opposing the multi-million dollar projects proposed by the politically powerful, my back would always stiffen at negotiation meetings when I would ask myself, “What would Felix do?” --- Like the years spent in the 82nd Airborne Division, these challenging California experiences also made the rest of my life’s challenges seem a lot easier.
     Felix recognized that he was saddling his employees with far greater responsibilities than were biologists in other FWS offices. --- Felix told me he was trying to secure a promotion for me by creating a new, higher-level staff position – Senior Staff Biologist – for those individuals handling the hottest issues in the most complex situations. --- The first Ecological Services Senior Staff Biologist position opening in the country was circulated for the Sacramento Office. ---Felix selected me, but the Regional Office careerists dragged their feet for months because…
      Late into this foot-dragging saga, I was sent along with Felix’s assistant to a particularly contentious public meeting.  It had been called by U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan, who later became famous when he was gunned down in British Guiana by the followers of the Reverend Jim Jones. Ryan was trying to help Redwood City get authorization from the Corps of Engineers (Corps) to fill (destroy) several hundred acres of diked tidal marsh with dredged muck from Redwood City’s harbor.  I had written a long letter of opposition which had been signed and sent to the Corps by our FWS Regional Director.  As a result, FWS was singled out as the only remaining obstacle to the project.
     Congressman Ryan led the public meeting and made FWS the object of most of his attacks.  After I repeatedly explained FWS’s position, Ryan eventually informed me that he served on the congressional committee that oversaw our budget and that he was going to recommend cuts because of the inconsistencies that I had shown that day. --- I had already come to a boil and told him…  He then demanded to know who had given the FWS the power to stop a city project like theirs.  I told him the FWS received all of its authority from laws passed by Congress.  --- He did not like my responses, but I continued to debate him on every misleading or false statement he made.
     Then Congressman Ryan flamboyantly waved a letter over his head and said, “Here is an idiotic and stupid letter from an eco-freak who is not even from California and who is stopping our project.”  I piped in and informed him that the letter, although signed by the FWS Regional Director, had come from our office in Sacramento.  He then said, “Who wrote it?”  I responded, “I wrote that letter.”  His response was, “I still say it is idiotic and stupid.”  I immediately responded…
     Fortunately, the entire public meeting had been recorded by a stenographer, so there was no question about who had said what. --- The FWS Regional Director was elated because he had fought with and suffered from previous attacks by Ryan.  My selection as the first Senior Staff Fish and Wildlife Biologist in the Division of Ecological Services immediately cleared the Regional Office bottleneck.
     Felix knew that our efforts to improve the mismanagement of water in the Central Valley were being stonewalled by our sibling Interior agency, the Bureau of Reclamation (BR).  To help push BR off dead center, he had a friend in a non-profit conservation group send a complaint letter about the Central Valley Project (CVP) habitat impacts to Congressman Paul Leggett of Vallejo, California.  Leggett, in turn, sent a congressional inquiry letter directly to Felix, requesting and explanation…  I wrote an 11-page response documenting every…  Daringly, he ignored standard protocol and sent the letter directly to Congressman Leggett. --- The political fallout from the letter began to hit the proverbial fan immediately. --- At the meeting, Leggett directed the BR/FWS group to begin resolving all the problems we had exposed in our 11-page letter to him.
     I completed a handwritten draft after two weeks of over-time writing. ---Through another stroke of luck, my typed draft document was printed and sent out under BR’s official cover for comments without anyone in the agency ever having reviewed the report. --- BR’s bureaucratic careerist hierarchy was furious when they saw what the agency’s mid-level staff had released for public review. --- Even the California Fish and Game Department representative on the study team said many of the statements were too inflammatory. --- As a result of our efforts (and a lot of luck)…
     With declaration of a military or national security emergency, our Regional Director would back down and give FWS’s reluctant blessing to the proposed…  Fortunately, as mounting public pressure grew, this archaic Corps practice, which we annually fought, eventually stopped after I left California.
    Although told of being one of the rising young stars in the Service, I was not selected as Felix’s replacement when he…  While still working in California, an interesting incident occurred when my name and the names of other biologists in Sacramento’s FWS office came up on Lynette “Squeaky” Fromm’s “Hit List.”  She was a member of the infamous Charles Manson Family. --- Felix stomped into the FBI office and chastised them for being so inept as to personally contact our spouses instead of walking up one flight of stairs and telling us.  We had been identified as enemies because…
     The hierarchy of the two Interior agencies decided to keep the sensitive information secret.  They issued a gag order on all employees to keep the selenium findings from becoming public information. --- Felix, recognizing the attempted government cover-up of a serious environmental problem, went straight to the press with the details. --- Another gag order was issued about the selenium problem and the punitive actions being taken against Felix.  In defiance, the entire staff of the FWS field office, like soldiers in battle with a wounded comrade who only could be rescued with a fixed bayonet frontal assault, ignored the gag order and…

Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming, 1979-88

     The main question I remember from the job interview with my future BLM supervisor in Worland, Wyoming, went something like this…  I knew the BLM work environment was going to be totally different because of the interview questions and subsequent horror stories the FWS Area Manager told me. --- In summarizing his negative experiences with BLM, he said, “Those bastards do not care what happens to our public land natural resources.
     This one successful lawsuit by a non-profit group did more to force the improvement of public land management than all the professional efforts of BLM employees in the history of the agency.
     The effectiveness of the three industries in controlling BLM’s decisions and protection of public land natural resources were very direct and efficient. --- This agency philosophy still existed even though the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976 gave fish, wildlife, and recreation the same importance as grazing, logging, and mining within BLM’s new multiple-use management mandate.  Anyone who took a strong stance against historic industry uses…
     A major battle erupted during the development of the first Grazing EIS.  I described livestock’s role in causing stream damages in the draft EIS as…  Our District Manager (DM) was incensed by my stream/wetland findings and analyses and said the information was too inflammatory toward public land ranchers to be put into the EIS.  We ended up in a shouting match, but he would not consent to…
     I was disheartened because the DM had seemed to keep an open mind regarding the wildlife program’s dilemma and unafraid to take on the public land ranchers. --- Earlier, the DM had faced a mob of about 50 angry, mounted ranchers on the front yard of our BLM office.  They had just come from a meeting with Department of the Interior Secretary James Watt, and they were fired up and looking for a fight.  When the DM came out on the front steps of our office to meet with them, they gave him a written list of their complaints and demands.  He took the document, said…
      I had to learn to write tighter justifications to make it nearly impossible for even blatant bureaucratic careerists to ignore my grazing impact data or reject my natural resource protection proposals. --- Nothing strikes more fear into BLM or USFS careerist than when a formerly-weak program such as Fish and Wildlife, gains strength and starts openly fighting the industry abuses for more common-sense management.
     Jeff Denton, the wildlife biologist on our first EIS team, and I were directed to attend a Hot Springs County Sportsmen Club meeting in Thermopolis, Wyoming, and answer questions about the EIS process. --- The club agreed to write a letter to Worland BLM and express concern about every contentious issue we identified. --- The shouting in the BLM office died down after I put together and extemporaneous explanation to the supervisors that the group had specifically asked why we had not addressed the impacts of grazing on…  Shortly thereafter, the secretaries were inundated with EIS typing assignments and were falling behind.  A 300-plus pound former college football lineman, who was an assistant to the EIS Team Leader, threw the aquatic/wetland section back on my desk and said, “Rewrite this; it is too messy for the secretaries to read.”  I told him… He said, “God dammit, I said rewrite it!”  My equally loud response of, “Over my dead body,” coming from a 165 pounder, enraged the bull.  The careerist Team Leader…  The aquatic/wetland section went back into the typing basket, and the sections that dealt with grazing impacts on stream/trout and wetland/waterfowl habitat remained unchanged in the final EIS. --- On the third EIS, a similar problem arose when…I told him…  To prompt a favorable immediate decision, I also told him that if he wanted to verbally or physically fight me over the issue that he would come out smelling the same as…
     Stream and wetland degradation on public land in the Worland District became a lightning rod of controversy during my tenure. --- With these orders in hand, I pushed my interpretations of them onto the Worland District. --- His proposal to sell the wetland tracts got me mad enough to…  I was paid the ultimate tongue-in-cheek compliment by a dyed-in-the-wool bureaucratic careerist Division Chief who said…
     Current grazing practices still cause more widespread habitat damage on our public land than all other abuses combined. --- The new DM, Chet Conard, was a crusty old guy who had a young heart.  He had started his BLM career in Worland as a range conservationist over 30 years before and could see that the public lands had further deteriorated…he was ready to take on the public land ranchers, regardless of the political fallout, but to do so, he needed his Area Managers to propose and implement range management reform. --- The Area Managers, who were traditionally trained so well to only follow, could not shift gears into real leadership responsibility. --- Under daring new leadership, this supposedly-incompetent and demoralized staff accomplished and implemented more positive natural resource grazing changes in three years within the Worland District than during its entire previous history. --- I finally realized that effective BLM range conservationists have the hardest natural resource job in all government agencies. --- This was the best example I had ever seen where dedication and commitment to positive natural resource changes caused blatant bureaucratic careerists to also try harder to implement improvements in public land management. --- The dynamic trio of DM, AM, and staff was eventually hamstrung when the public land ranchers…  I am positive that, if questioned today, Chet, Phyllis, and her staff would all identify those three dynamic and difficult work years as the best period of their entire lives in the BLM. --- Our third DM was the consummate bureaucratic careerist, specifically selected by BLM’s Washington, D.C., leaders to appease the public land ranchers.
     The bureaucratic careerists sputtered in rage at the obvious cover-up and would have done anything to discredit her because she was making them look inferior. --- In the article, I made sure the author highlighted that this award was for all the Worland BLM team members who pounded the streets.  BLM’ers in other Wyoming locations were afraid to circulate the petition but I convinced our guys that it was okay for federal employees to actively participate in non-partisan political activities. --- This was the best example I ever saw of a conservation organization changing itself rapidly from mediocrity to excellence. --- Many miles of streams in Wyoming are now protected from future dewatering.
     He was a born-again Christian who essentially did nothing but conduct his ministry and marriage counseling business from the BLM office. --- His Area Manager said he was a good wildlife biologist because he never caused him any trouble. --- To get rid of the incompetent biologist, the BLM state and district wildlife biologists concocted a scheme which required him to…  This new pressure on his private business was too great, so he…
     Documentation of his inappropriate activities would be needed to get him reprimanded and/or fired.  The painter eventually realized something was up after noticing the tail whenever he left the BLM office.  The short-tempered painter attacked his co-worker…  Actions by two range conservationists were just as brazen but had admirable qualities…  Although his actions were probably a felony for violation of the Wild Horse and Burro Act, they efficiently solved the problem and saved tax payer money in the process. --- The second case involved a young range conservationist who…  My guidance principle of “Be bold but not stupid” might have been violated in this case, but I wished there were such instances of bravery and risk taking to report from within BLM’s fish and wildlife programs.
     These recurring efforts by bureaucratic careerists to prevent resource staffs from carrying out their duties to improve management of the public lands led to demoralization. --- A Ph.D. archeologist who was also a military retiree and a multi-tour Vietnam Special Forces veteran summed up the BLM morale problem best.  He said, “My military unit’s morale was a lot higher than it is here in the Cody BLM office even when our position was being over run by the Viet Cong and we were calling in air strikes on ourselves.”
     One of the biologists said the DM should be required to wear brake signals on his butt to prevent the groveling careerist supervisors and managers from running their heads up his ass should he ever unexpectedly stop quickly in the halls of our office building. --- It was easy to understand why the saying, “50 years of tradition unmarred by progress,” came out of BLM as the troops’ rallying slogan for celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Taylor Grazing Act, which led to the formation of BLM.
     Lacking any support from BLM’s leadership to resolve the problem, I volunteered to lead the charge of the concerned staff to…  To the complete consternation of my supervisors, I became openly and publicly involved with a Wyoming based environmental group and downstream landowners who opposed the project. --- By then, they also knew that they could not control me with typical threats as directed toward their staff careerists. --- I filed appeal after appeal over several years, even after I left Worland BLM, based on…  Eventually my final appeal within the legal process found its way to the Chief of the USFS…  Tensleep Creek continues to run free and unimpeded to this day. --- Previously, one of the BLM wildlife biologists and I had publicly chastised the local USFS District Ranger for…  The next morning, both of us were…  Again, we were acting as private citizens on our own time.
     I explained to the three bus loads of participants that I would sometimes remove my BLM cap and present the views of other groups to promote active discussion.  One of the participants was a very vocal state legislator and prominent rancher.  She hated bureaucrats, especially game and fish types who supported habitat protection at the expense of unlimited grazing and economic development. --- The legislator finally and totally lost her cool and began screaming at me.  The argument escalated as the veins bulged on her neck, and I thought she was going to resort to physical violence in front of over 100 agency, agriculture, and private environmental attendees. --- The next day I was … and given official notice that the legislator/rancher had called the Wyoming BLM State Director and demanded that I be fired for my inappropriate behavior. --- My explanation was sufficient, and the issue died, or so I thought.
     I applied for a job with the Fish and Wildlife Service…  When he noticed my BLM affiliation, he called some of his old bureaucratic careerist cronies and the word came back not to touch Kroger because he was trouble; he had even started a riot on a riparian workshop tour. --- The Assistant District Manager, with whom I had had several heated arguments, came through for me with my explanation about trying to stimulate discussion. --- It was not the first or last time I witnessed glowing recommendations being given in an effort to get rid of a troublesome or incompetent employee, especially when…
     A unique situation arose after a renegade range conservationist who stayed in constant personal trouble in our office was given a good recommendation for a position in the Rawlins, Wyoming, BLM office.  The range conservationist was subsequently threatened, a loaded .30-.30 thrust in his stomach by an irate public land rancher, who was also Speaker of the House in the Wyoming legislature. --- All the BLM careerist hierarchy in Worland said the rancher would get several years in prison for felony assault of a government employee on public land.  I bet them the legislator would never serve a day. --- The Democratic Governor of Wyoming testified in federal court to the good character of the Republican law-maker and rancher.  He said, “I often used to feel like shooting some BLM’ers when I ranched,” which got a big laugh in the federal courtroom.  The rancher became a folk hero and…
     Partisan politics also can lead to major turmoil within BLM. --- The powers-to-be in the Reagan/Watt administration went after him a second time and again had him removed.  During this appeal process, the bureaucratic careerist who replaced him was reported as saying, “The only way that Carter appointee would get the BLM job back would be over his dead body.”  A couple months later, the careerist…
     Good performance ratings also served to build up a backlog of insurance against any future adverse personnel actions taken to stop my extra-curricular resource efforts.

 Fish and Wildlife Service, North Dakota, 1988-94

     Life back in the single-use FWS was much less controversial and combative than in the BLM.  I had assumed the supervisory/lead biologist position in Bismarck with responsibility for coordinating all Division of Ecological Services activities within the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BR) controversial Garrison Diversion Unit (GDU) project. --- Some of the more enlightened water development supporters, recognizing that they were going to lose their beloved GDU project, worked out a compromise with a few of the conservation leaders in the State. --- As a result of this quasi formal compromise agreement, Congress passed the GDU Reformulation Act in 1986.  Many people on both sides of the issue continued to be very bitter because they thought their side had sold out to the enemy.  I arrived on this potentially volatile scene about 2 years later.
     FWS employees had been fired and transferred in the past as a result of GDU proponents generating political pressure on the agency’s…  These stories were a little unnerving to me as a newcomer to the state.  But by that stage of my life, I saw myself more adept at causing nervous breakdowns than ever getting one from a bunch of money-grubbing bureaucratic careerists, politicians, and water developers. --- An able assistant (and walking encyclopedia on GDU’s past and current history) also made my transition easy.  Bill Bicknell had been FWS’s acting lead biologist for GDU and also had applied for the position.  He was totally committed to making me a competent GDU leader for FWS and held no ego-related grudges.  His dedication was to reduce project habitat impacts and develop and implement the best possible fish and wildlife protection and mitigation plan for GDU.  This is a true trait of a conservation vocationist, one who can rise above the human frailties of egos and jealousy for the greater good of our natural resources.
     Although there was now a cooperative Project Manager, most of Reclamation’s old bureaucratic careerists were still entrenched within the mode of water development first, and to hell with the environmental impacts. --- To let them know my philosophy, I immediately told a key BR program leader the BLM story about being willing to fight in the manure if necessary to protect our fish and wildlife habitat resources and not caring how I smelled afterwards.
     As a result of previous political pressure by GDU interests, the refuges had been sold out by FWS bureaucratic careerist leaders and had suffered major unmitigated habitat impacts. --- Steve Young had formerly been one of the fiercest GDU “combat biologists” for the FWS’s Division of Ecological Services, and he had zero trust of our office’s bureaucratic careerists in protecting his refuge. --- Final full trust came after he found a letter of mine in the Charles M. Russell NWR Grazing EIS comment section. --- In the letter, I had viciously chastised the FWS for not following its own regulations for implementing the Presidential Executive Orders on management of grazing within wetlands and floodplains on public land. --- I guess a BLM employee openly attacking a sister Interior agency was the litmus test for identifying me as a conservation vocationist comrade who could be trusted and…
     A new governor decided his re-election would be better guaranteed if he destroyed the remaining cooperative efforts and went back to the more popular historic regime of fighting fish, wildlife, and wetland conservation efforts. --- Effective conservation vocationists, as well as water developers, must be able to consistently choose when it is best to fight and when it is best to cooperate and compromise to achieve goals. --- This story has been told many times because I like to think it helped re-ignite the passion, that still fuels his GDU poison pen and helps to prevent unnecessary environmental impacts. --- If North Dakota’s past political leaders had originally mitigated impacts and cooperated with the environmental community, a billion-plus dollar GDU project would have likely been completed by the mid-1980s.
     During my peace and harmony days in Bismarck, there was an unwritten policy that FWS employees could participate in outside, non-work associated conservation efforts.  The only constraint was that these natural resource activities could not cause negative political repercussions to the FWS’s ongoing efforts or jeopardize our supervisors’ careers. --- Sometimes the narrow bands of thin ice we walked upon, between our FWS responsibilities and those of the private non-profit conservation groups, began to crumble. We Sierra Club wilderness proponents were invited by Senator Byron Dorgan to what was indicated to be a small meeting in Dickinson, North Dakota with a few key ranchers to discuss National Grasslands management and wilderness designation. --- The audience was a solid sea of cowboy hats, and the mob regularly broke into rude heckling and gestures when we wilderness proponents made our presentations. --- Senator Dorgan later apologized profusely for the apparent set-up.
     Although wilderness designation remains an unfulfilled goal, work with Senator Dorgan eventually led to a federally sponsored minerals exchange which provided protection for a unique 15,000 acre National Grassland road-less area from imminent oil and gas development.  It is ironic that as private citizens we could meet one-on-one to negotiate with the highest government leaders in the state but as low to mid-level civil servants we were not allowed to attend similar type meetings. --- The ice was purposely supposed to break in 1990 when --- I expected repercussions --- A friend lagged behind to give me a hand because he heard one farmer/rancher say to another, as they started toward me in the front of the room, “Let’s go give that little red-headed f---er a piece of our minds.”
     The FWS Denver Regional Office did force a North Dakota refuge manager to retire after he physically attacked his mild-mannered assistant during an all-employees staff meeting.  The Region was fearful of an irrational/violent reprisal and made his entire staff of about 10 employees stay away from the refuge headquarters, where the manager lived, for over a week.  Many of the FWS employees who worked for and with the manager referred to him behind his back as “crazy.”  Yet, he had been sent to all the “charm schools” and promoted to a super GS-grade for refuge managers. --- The manager, however, dictated the terms under which he would retire.  …a real sweetheart of a deal for him.
     The system protects the incompetent and dead-wood employees and makes them feel good but has the opposite effect on those who truly excel. --- The issue was too unimportant at the time to question his unfair decision to group me with the most incompetent biologist I had ever known. --- My subsequent annual performance evaluations became the most detestable event of the year even though I continued to receive the highest B-plus numerical ratings in our office.
    Our new FWS Director…initiated the process of bringing the agency into the 20th Century of fish and wildlife management by…  The high-level bureaucratic careerists… were too entrenched with their old ineffective, defensive management styles to be able to accept the new and innovative management-by-objectives program which would require them to complete measurable natural resource management tasks each year. --- As a result, the FWS’s failure mode of management continues to this day.
     In a moment of insanity, irreverence, and sheer foolishness, I sent a copy of the letter to the Assistant FWS Director.  Two week later, I was called into my supervisor’s office.  We went over the series of seven memos attached to my original letter that had moved down through the chain-of-command from the FWS Assistant Director, to the regional office, and down to my immediate supervisor.  They went from… I explained to my supervisor that I had purposely sent the copy to tweak the Assistant Director and let him know what I thought of him and his role as a hatchet man.  My mission succeeded based on the bureaucratic paper trail it produced.  Subsequently, a new policy was…
     After I retired, the highest hierarchy of the FWS allowed major industry driven political pressure to alter a major conservation decision within the Bismarck office. --- This sell-out of our natural resources is the hardest kind for conservation vocationists to fight because the betrayal originated from the highest government levels within our society.  Retirement ended the need for the government employee natural resource creed which I plagiarized and modified and always kept on the cover of my dictionary.  The creed, entitled, “Attitude Adjustment,” said… 

Retirement, Minnesota And Wyoming, 1994-Present

     The new life as a volunteer conservation vocationist started in May of 1994 with our return to my wife’s old farmstead in southwest Minnesota, only nine miles from the small farm town where I grew-up.  I had left 36 years before and now agreed to move back as a concession to Karen, who wanted to be near her family but had willingly accompanied me on our 32 years of travels around the country. --- In 1982, we had purchased 40 acres of the Sandberg Farm that contains two-thirds mile of the Yellow Medicine River, the riparian zone, and the farmstead.  As places go in the heart of the agricultural black desert, our location was as good as it gets.  We also had several wooded draws, native prairie knolls, and 50-foot bluffs overlooking the river.
     Although I made no personal or financial plans for retirement, I had four natural resource goals.  These were…  A fifth and new goal was added to live long enough to see the Minnesota River and its tributaries (includes the Yellow Medicine) again achieve swimmable and fishable status as mandated by the Clean Water Act.  This fifth one immediately began to take a disproportionate amount of my time, just like every new challenging conservation position had in the past.
     Our chosen home site was in the heart of the most devastated large scale ecosystem in the world, the tallgrass prairie.  Since its settlement, 99.6 percent of this tallgrass prairie ecosystem has been lost, mostly to row crops. --- The destruction also included drainage of over 90 percent of the wetlands in the prairie pothole region of Minnesota’s original tallgrass prairie ecosystem. --- These sloughs originally averaged 40-50 per square mile and they, along with the streams and rivers, were the lifeblood of the prairies.  These former pothole wetlands are now connected directly by a labyrinth of subsurface and open tile inlets to drainage ditches which lead directly to the Minnesota River and…
     The increased flows, caused by eliminating the sponge-like prairie ground cover and building the sophisticated and complete agricultural plumbing system for draining the prairie wetlands, are causing the silt and chemical-laden rivers to chew up their banks and frequently flood. --- Phosphorous is also a major nutrient problem in the rivers and lakes, and nitrogen leaving the fields of the Midwest is causing a massive hypoxic/dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. --- Although the data are overwhelming, the farming community refuses to accept its responsibility, even after all of the major point-source pollution problem sites have been reconstructed to function at or near current levels of technology. --- No large scale river like the Minnesota, predominately polluted by non-point source runoff from a row cropping system, has ever been restored to Clean Water Act standards.
     Perpetual production of food must include the full societal cost of protecting our soil, water, air, wildlife, and our overall quality-of-life. --- To move this idea forward in Minnesota, I convinced the other directors on the Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) board to pursue federal legislation. --- Clearly, we were following the scary advice of Paul Loeb.  He said, “Do not wait until…  These farmer recommendations were compiled and presented to local Congressman David Minge who was a…  He and Senator Harkin then introduced the CSA into the House and Senate, respectively, in October 2000.  Even with CURE’s effort and…the effort would have failed if not for an unrelated decision made by one person. --- It seldom happens that a small conservation group like CURE can help spark a conflagration of environmental reform on a national scale.  Conservation vocationists always hope to be a part of such a success story, but few are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. --- A clean Minnesota River is the key to…
     I was hired on a per-piece basis to write a regular column (“From the Hip”) about any topic I wanted to address. --- I will return to this writing mission because I believe public education is still the key to eventually improving natural resource protection and management.
     Although never daunted by the decision, we encountered some real-world reality checks. --- The 160-acre Sandberg Farm was our own little wildlife oasis in the heart of the black desert.  Our efforts to restore the Sandberg Farm to prairie improved our quality-of-life but were done primarily to leave a land ethic legacy of protected soil, reduced water pollution, and improved wildlife habitat.  The Sandberg Farm was open to all types of youth hunting and to birding by everyone.
     I had postponed pursuing my third retirement goal, writing this book, because…  The other realization, as I entered my 60th year, was that if I died unexpectedly, my most long-held life goal would go unfulfilled.
     I did not believe a dove bill had a chance of passing.  Ironically, a dedicated individual stepped forward, formed…  This success demonstrates that one person acting as a spark and following through with dedication and organizational skills to bring like-minded people and groups together can accomplish what many thought was impossible and which MCF had pursued since 1972.
     At the request of the North Dakota Chapter of The Wildlife Society (TWS), I flew to Washington, D.C., to represent them and testify against…  I was not the most qualified to do either, but was the only quasi-knowledgeable person available who had…and could speak openly. --- North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, whose National Grasslands Bill we were opposing, told the Sierra Club representative and me after the hearing, “You guys were slicker than bacon grease.”  He then invited us up to his office for…
     During the first GDU negotiation meeting in Washington, D.C., I continually made the case that…  These statements made the agitated Governor and the state’s majority and minority leaders of both houses fume as they had to politely listen to my tirades. --- Later in the day while waiting for our flight back to Bismarck, The North Dakota State Attorney General told me, “That was the…
      I was suddenly the only voice at the table to speak for the protection and improvement of North Dakota’s natural resources.  As a result, I…  I said that if everything I proposed was to be voted down, I was going to immediately…  I also added that only fools would…  The Governor…stared at me with apparent disbelief or contempt.  It was either that or the two…  I politely thanked them, but on the tip of my tongue was, “I think the odds were about even.”  As a result, the Chapter gave me an award at their annual meeting which stated…  A good friend… announced that, “They should have put, ‘Dick (NO Finesse) Kroger’ on his award because he just…
     After receiving lobby training, I made my pitch to all ten staffs about the need to protect the Everglades and then about Minnesota’s need for the CSP. --- On another trip, I went to lobby for “greening” of the Corps of Engineers but also lobbied Minnesota’s congressional delegation about the need for a comprehensive land ethic and profitable farming based Farm Bill.
     Non-profit volunteer groups can turn into non-functional bureaucracies just like government agencies unless constant diligence is given to promoting the mission of the organization.  I have said many times that the human species has a recessive bureaucracy gene, which, if given the chance, will always emerge and dominate. --- For some organization leaders, the continued ego feeding through personal public recognition seemed to be far more important that the organization’s mission.
     Long held plans can drastically change as we go through different phases of our lives. --- Wyoming, however, has another whole different set of natural resource problems…  In Minnesota, the prime issue was mismanagement of private lands by their owners.  In Wyoming, the most important natural resource issue is mismanagement of Public Lands by our federal government management agencies (BLM and USFS). --- To help guide myself in the remaining years of my life as a conservation vocationist and, hopefully, others in overcoming the persistent/unresolved public land management problems, I… This new approach was selected because I believe it holds more potential for helping to turn around the declining habitat problems on our Public Lands than by just using the same old arguments and strategies of the past.
     Under this Doctrine, the King’s land and deer became that of the citizens.  These Public Lands are held in trust for us by our federal government who is supposed to protect and manage them in a sustainable manner for the American people and future generations.  In essence, we the citizens of this country – through our democratic system of law-making – have endowed the USFS and BLM with the Public Trust responsibilities to perpetually act as our guardians in the management and protection of our Public Land natural resources. --- I think we should expose and vocally discuss these infractions as “traitorous betrayals” of the Public Trust and American people. --- “We voluntarily give our de facto permission when we fail to…
     Public Trust scholars indicate that the Doctrine represents the best legal tool for protecting natural resources held in Trust by our government for us.  Further, every citizen of this country has the “right and standing” to bring forth a lawsuit for violations of the Public Trust. --- Only if we hunters, fishers, and other conservation advocates band together into and/or with strong conservation advocate groups can we hope to effectively fight and reverse the violations and betrayals of the Public Trust Doctrine by our public servants, agencies, and politicians.
     My life goes on as a private citizen conservation vocationist.  Many times while in the doldrums of frustration and sleepless nights over my inability to bring about needed natural resource protection changes, I realize that a conservation vocation can be a curse rather than a blessing.  Sometimes I envy the carefree lives of…  The only things I miss from my agency years are the…

 


CHAPTER IV

Preparing For A Conservation Vocation

     Throughout this book and especially this chapter, I tried to provide the reader information about the hard facts of life that natural resource schools fail to teach students about the future pitfalls and challenges they will face as conservation vocationists working within government agencies. --- If you feel an emerging conservation vocation, pursue it with all of your heart and energy.  Follow the guidance of Henry David Thoreau…
     Landing a permanent job after college may hinge on the recommendations you receive from summer bosses.  The chances are good that the selecting official will at least know someone who knows your summer bosses and will rely on those connections to verify your ability and work ethic. --- The importance of gaining summer work experience in the conservation field cannot be over emphasized.
     This story is told to make the point that everyone should actively participate in class.  College grades are so important in helping to get summer jobs and to land that first job after graduation that no one can afford to drop a grade just to make a statement. --- As a result of his guidance, I took five high school algebra, geometry, and biology courses by correspondence while saving money for college in the Army. --- College was always an enjoyable rush for me.  I viewed it as the stepping stone to a fulfilling life in the field of fish and wildlife conservation. --- During the next three years, I carried 18-20 credit hours per semester, was continuously on the dean’s list, and graduated with honors in the upper five percent of my class. --- What had changed in my life? 
    
Our youngest son put himself through college under the same National Guard program and even bought a new car as a sophomore.  Both of them left on a plane for Army basic training at 5:00 a.m. after graduating from high school the previous evening.  My daughter paid 90 percent of her own way through college with academic scholarships and by working during the school years and summers. --- My point is this: with commitment, just about everyone can finance his or her way through college. --- This story is related with a father’s pride, but it is told mainly to make the point that total commitment usually leads to achievement of life goals.
     Do not take any of these courses as electives, but be sure to gain a strong ecological background and take at least one course in genetics and one in statistics. --- Excluding total commitment, ultimate success as a conservation vocationist will depend upon how well you converse with and relate to people, and how well you communicate in writing.  Weakness in these traits was and continues to be my biggest shortcoming. ---Errorless grammar, spelling, and punctuation are mandatory, but it is in presenting ideas in a clear, logical, and flowing manner where most of us fail. --- My biggest feelings of frustration still come from failing to have the composure and ability to extemporaneously transfer my passion and beliefs into the hearts of key individuals in an audience. --- Also, some veterans have said they would sooner go into battle than…  The biggest fear I had to overcome was that of…
     You cannot achieve and maintain success as a conservation vocationist until you recognize that nearly all unnecessary natural resource degradation is caused by…  Some of these traits include…  When these traits and all other positive communication techniques are fully understood and mastered, you should be able to diplomatically tell others they are totally wrong and they in turn…
     In essence, we are all status seekers who cannot abandon this evolutionary tendency because it is rooted in our nervous system and regulated by hormones and brain chemicals. --- This short article, like a flash of brilliance, provided me a scientific answer to my longtime question of why so many natural resource specialists abandoned their emerging conservation ethics to pursue personal advancement.  What was a historically beneficial psychological trait for our evolutionary survival as a “pack” animal species now manifests itself… 
    
If I could leave conservation vocationists only one message from this book, it would be to study the Newsweek article and then delve into your own psyche and identify what status you seek to establish and/or maintain.  Only then can you more effectively identify the status sought by those who make bad natural resource decisions. --- To effectively and efficiently win natural resource battles, you must give full consideration to whose status is being threatened by your actions and to strategize accordingly. --- Your success in protecting the natural resources managed by government agencies is probably more dependent on knowing how and why the decision makers’ status is being threatened than any other factor.
     Politics will never be removed from the natural resource field, so conservation vocationists must become politically keen. --- She said, employers take for granted that graduates will have a strong technical background in their chosen field of natural resources, but they also expect them to be adept at: (1) leadership, (2) communicating, (3) working effectively in a team setting, (4) integrating knowledge from other disciplines into their own fields, and (5) using current technology (Stafford, 2004). --- Do not waste electives on more sciences like I did and which many colleges still advocate.  Diversified training will make your future life more rewarding and enjoyable, and the environment will reap the benefits of your more effective conservation vocationist efforts.


  

CHAPTER V

 Choosing A Natural Resource Employer 

     No life is more noble than to toil for the sound conservation of our natural resources.  Theodore Roosevelt said, “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” --- The life of a conservation vocationist, and for that matter even a bureaucratic careerist, is easier to lead within…  Natural resource accomplishments and personal satisfaction can be greater in multiple use agencies because there is more to do and the challenges are greater on their massive land areas. --- In general, the potential for local political manipulation of natural resource protection measures increases geometrically in accordance with…  One cannot generalize very much when trying to categorize natural resource agencies and groups because some offices are…  Our BLM office in Worland was a joy to work in compared to the bitter and vindictive conditions existing in other Wyoming offices I visited.  I am not sure why this was, but I believe it developed because…
     My BLM years are the ones about which I have the fondest memories because of the kindred spirits who fought hard together for our public land natural resources despite the apathy and bureaucratic careerists we faced. --- However, this Worland anomaly within BLM was finally squashed, and most of the conservation vocationists were scattered when the…  The USFS in Wyoming, however, had us beat by about 30 or more years in these clichés of non-distinction. --- The USFS, with its uniformed employees in lockstep with their blind allegiance to the “family,” had a public relations program at the time which was only rivaled by those of the…  This change came about or was at least initiated primarily as a result of one person, Jeff Debonis.  He openly and publicly revolted against the USFS long before retirement and started the…
      Former Chief Forester Mike Dombeck issued a personal letter to all his USFS employees in 1999 that would have been unheard of the previous decade.  He said…  This letter is the most encouraging public statement I have ever heard coming from the head of a natural resource management agency. --- If Dombeck had been given the helm by Clinton in 1993, the story might have ended much differently because time is needed to purge the entrenched bureaucratic careerists. --- Natural resource protection effectiveness is often inherently reduced in most government agencies because bureaucracies tend to expand and to lose sight of their mission.  Rather than concentrate on solving the difficult natural resource problems of the day, bureaucratic careerists would sooner…
     Hundreds of non-profit environmental groups have professional conservationists on staff as biologists, lawyers, educators, and administrators.  The potential for conservation vocationists to achieve lofty natural resource accomplishments exist in all of them.  Government agencies tend to have the lowest percentage of conservation vocationists within their ranks.  This occurs because…  Teachers in all fields have the opportunity to instill a sense of concern and protection for our natural resources among their thousands of students who will manifest concern for and champion future conservation efforts as adults. --- Likewise, ministers, priests, and others in the religious life have the opportunity to instill a concern among their congregations and others in their zones of influence to protect all of God’s creations. --- Christians must be taught…
     Conservation vocationist opportunities also exist in fields which might appear far removed from natural resource management.  In addition to the education and religious professions, there are needs in the fields of…  Effective politicians with a conservation agenda can probably do more to protect and improve management of our natural resources than anyone else. --- There is a single important fact that cannot be forgotten by any of us if we are to make lasting beneficial natural resource changes. --- As Curt Meine (2007) said, “They are the 800-pound gorillas whose presence we would just as soon not acknowledge.” --- There is a serious need for more dynamic young people with emerging conservation vocations to enter the non-traditional fields.  This change may hold the ultimate key to the survival of our natural world (and our species) as we know it.

 


CHAPTER VI

 Guidance For Conservation Vocationists

      My point is this: you not only have to work long and hard to achieve significant resource protection, but you must also work smart.  Long and hard came early and easy during my agency years, but learning the “working smart” aspect of successful resource endeavors came too slowly. --- To be continually effective as a conservation vocationist within government agencies, you must…  In every complex natural resource effort, especially where many people are involved, it is best to adopt the holistic management style and assume that…  Key people who hold the power to derail you conservation initiatives must be identified and actively included in the…
     Remember, a conservation vocation only entails commitment to doing your very best for our natural resources. --- To maintain a conservation vocation under such conditions, you must do whatever is necessary to protect natural resources, be it by…  This avenue of choice takes the courage of real convictions, but it can lead to needed reform. --- Sometimes the greatest public service to our natural resources might be achieved by…
     I went outside of BLM when necessary to achieve natural resource protection.  As an example,…  Such an action has to be kept secret to ensure survival within bureaucratic agencies. --- Always try for a peaceful resolution of every problem within agency restrictions, then escalate or circumvent accordingly to accomplish resource protection. --- When there is no identified messenger to punish, agencies will often address the public concern issue. --- When major outside assistance is needed to address a bad decision, discretely inform the media and/or a watch-dog group. --- The one thing bureaucratic careerists cannot stand is negative publicity because it brings criticism from their superiors and the potential for loss of status. --- Just the threat of a…
     Sometimes important opportunities arise where you might have positive influence at a high level within the government.  I wrote Jim Baca a long letter about the need to rapidly purge the entrenched higher echelons of bureaucratic careerists within BLM if he ever…  He telephoned me one night at home in Bismarck, expressed his gratitude for my input, and said he recognized the absolute need to get rid of the industry puppets within BLM if long-term reform was ever to be achieved. --- Bruce Babbitt sent hand written notes to my home thanking me each time I sent him ideas about how to improve natural resource management by the FWS and on public lands. 
    
The fact that I got these personal acknowledgements from two of the highest level Interior leaders makes me wonder just how few field-level employees actually sent in recommendations about how to improve natural resource management within our Department of Interior agencies. --- Without truthful and forthright exposure about innate agency problems from the field, there is no way that even the best appointed conservation leader with the most finesse can reform industry dominated organizations like BLM or USFS within the short four to eight years of an environmentally friendly administration. --- Prior to communicating with these two Interior leaders, I took it upon myself to contact…
     If natural resource specialists find themselves in this mode, they should re-examine their goals. --- Can you imagine young natural resource college students saying this is what they would like to become when they graduate?  It would be equivalent to young people saying they want to grow up to be drunks and drug addicts. --- The guiding quotations on the back cover should be taken to heart.  Other appropriate ones to strengthen our resoluteness and guide our lives as conservation vocationists include…
     One’s sword can be used only a few times, and sometimes only once, before ineffectiveness becomes a fact of life within careerist agencies.  “Be bold, but not stupid.” --- Do not go around spoiling for a fight over every minor controversial resource decision. --- There will be few subsequent opportunities for resource successes if you emotionally burn bridges and blatantly offend superiors. --- The key is to be a conservation vocationist with a cause and one who knows how to use finesse to solve difficult problems.  True finesse is…
     Nancy Wells (2006), an Environmental Psychologist, reported that the best way to develop environmentally concerned adults is to…  He demanded active resource commitment of his employees.  If you did not develop this commitment and actively fight for the protection of California’s remaining natural resources, he would…  The cooperation and compromise mode is very difficult for some impatient vocationists because… 
    
The best initial conservation vocationist strategy, regardless of agency or organization, is to…  This fact was made apparent to me many times, but one incident was especially enlightening.  At a meeting,…  When he finished, a developer in a three-piece suit said to him, “I am sure what you just said was important but I could not hear you because of how you look.” --- Also, new employees must first learn the personalities, protocol, and inherent politics of their offices and agencies before…
     If the time ever comes when you must draw your professional sword, make sure the fight is a winnable battle and/or worth your sacrifice.  Never enter a serious conservation fight based only on emotions.  If it is a worthy battle issue, objectively proceed with… Their positive efforts will continue to be beneficial to our natural resources far into the future.  These two people had a plan, did their homework preparation, and carried through with intensity, commitment, and finesse. --- Every conservation vocationist must occasionally step back and…  If you do not make yourself and your supervisor look good by accomplishing basic agency bureaucracy requirement, you will eventually fail as an effective agency conservation vocationist.  Your annual evaluation must include statements about being…
      As I related before, only chasing meadowlarks (implementing ineffective temporary or short-tern resource projects) is worse than doing nothing because…  The infection evidently permeates all the careerist agencies and even non-profit groups and restricts field level staff to chasing meadowlarks because they are…  Because of agriculture’s large foot-print on the land, it has a greater impact on our country’s soil, water, air, and fish and wildlife natural resources than all other industries combined.  I am 100 percent convinced that the only potential solution for resolving environmental and habitat associated problems on our hundreds of millions of acres of agricultural land is to… 
    
The full cost of food production must include measures which protect…if we, as a society, are to survive and maintain our current standard of living and improve our environmental quality-of-life. --- Fortunately, our citizens have indicated in public polls that they are willing to pay agriculturalists higher prices for food if it is produced in a more environmentally friendly manner. --- In fact, cleaning-up our agriculturally polluted waters would do more to…than all past habitat management actions combined. --- This is a monumental task/dream, but success can be achieved if we all accept the philosophies that…
      It is far past due for our fiercely independent (go-it-alone) conservation organizations to…  Nelson went on to say, “Team Waterfowl is so dysfunctional that its players and coaches can’t get along with each other, let alone anyone else; That sharp pain you feel in your back wasn’t inflicted by a card-carrying PETA member – you’ve been stabbed by a fellow traveler; Instead of focusing on the ties that should bind, we go out of our way to find little nits to pick; and Instead of executing the perfect power play, we’re bickering over the snap count.”
       The stakes are too high not to take on this challenge and pursue success for as long as it takes. --- Conservation vocationists must recognize that we are in a natural resource war that can never be won unless…  We must always be thinking outside the box and be looking for perpetual solutions to our natural resource problems.  Public education can be pursued by all of us in many different ways. --- Working with and rallying people have been the keys to natural resource success stories during…  Becoming an effective conservation vocationist is the most difficult task you will ever have. --- I am in need of…

 


CHAPTER VII

 Necessary Changes In The Conservation Field

     Changes must first occur in the outdated conservation education fields before improved protection of our natural resources can take place.  I do not think anyone could honestly disagree with the statement…  Without developing a strong natural resource commitment, graduates naturally gravitate towards personal careerist goals in their innate pursuit of human recognition and status needs. --- Natural resource professors must constantly strive to ensure that their students learn “how” to be effective conservation vocationists, not just technically knowledgeable ones. --- Understanding why apparently good people in management positions make bad natural resource decisions is of utmost importance. --- If the natural resource department staffs cannot teach students how to effectively overcome conservation challenges, then professors should…  The students with a weak natural resource commitment must be weeded out because they will conform … and only pursue selfish personal goals.
     In any event, it is up to our colleges and universities and agency hiring officials to ensure that the conservation vocationist fires burn hot and long in the bellies of all their natural resource graduates and new employees, respectively. --- There is no greater gift that natural resource professors can give to our country than --- The main problem within our natural resource education fields is that few professors have…  To resolve this problem,…  More natural resource graduates will leave college with conservation vocations if professors are knowledgeable in teaching about real-life situations within our society and its careerist bureaucracies. --- Students must dwell on and discuss real world ramifications and complex ideas such as…  The great historic conservationists of the past, such as…were all vocationists first and visionaries second. --- When the time is “right” in their training/education process, each student should be encouraged to take a…  Students need an inspirational book of…  As an example,…
     Conservation vocationist opportunities, other than within government agencies and non-profit groups, should be explored in depth and made known to students. --- Students must understand and accept the fact that politics will always exist in natural resource fields. --- Public education must be instilled as the avenue by which the most…  As a result, professors cannot over-emphasize the role of conservation vocationists as…   Commitment to natural resource protection is the most important factor in determining success as conservation vocationists, but…is next.  This example illustrates how perpetual conservation vocationists are always prepared and ready to act decisively when the…  I do not think anyone, even the most blatant agency careerist would voice open public debate with the statements…  These indisputable facts support my argument ---
     That FWS survey took the wind out of my sails about someday trying to…  If an agency is truly concerned about improving management of our natural resources, then more work can be accomplish with the same budget by…  The inability of agencies to accomplish their conservation mission goals is usually not the result of insufficient personnel and funding, as often stated, but instead is…  The excuse that agencies must pay top wages to attract and keep good people does not hold water in the field of conservation because the best employees are vocationists who will work for a lifetime at a livable wage. --- Bureaucratic layering of careerists, accumulation of deadwood, and grade creep represent budget busting agency diseases. --- Efforts must be taken to…
     Preventing the addition of more bureaucratic careerists to agency ranks can be achieved by…  This supervisor training would help assure that…  The final decision to hire new employees should always be based on their future potential to…  Continued selection of effective vocationists would eventually curb the…  Finally, the steps to the top rungs of agency management must be based on previous…

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

     With effort and luck, I achieved my childhood goal to earn a living in the field of fish and wildlife conservation.  I still believe that it does not get any better than to fight for the protection of our natural resources while working with other like-minded people who also love our land, water, air, and wildlife.





Choosing A Conservation Vocation or a Bureaucratic Career:

Personal Choices and the Environmental Consequences

by

Richard (Dick) Kroger
609 North Road 11, Worland, WY 82401
307-347-3047
E-mail: krogers@rtconnect.net


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