Ken McDermond, aveteran wildlife conservation leader and former Deputy RegionalDirector from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s PacificSouthwest Region, is the South Atlantic Landscape ConservationCooperative’s first permanent coordinator. He started in July 2010.
After 12 years in Regional Offices in Sacramento, CA and Lakewood,CO, and two years in the Service’s Headquarters in Arlington, VA,McDermond said he was ready to get back in the field, closer towhere conservation happens. He’s a believer in LCCs, in workingcollaboratively with partners to achieve big-time conservationgoals.
“If we don’t get out there and help private landowners and otheragencies and other organizations conserve wildlife and habitats,we’re only touching the surface,” McDermond said. “I have thiswhole concept of bringing the science together and bringing as manypartners together as possible to help set the vision for thelandscape. I think that’s the right thing to do.”
McDermond said he’s heard some question the need for an “extralayer” of bureacracy. His answer is that existing partnerships suchas joint ventures, formed around migratory bird conservation, onlytouch part of the landscape.
“With climate change and other stressors going on, we’re going tohave to create conservation partnerships that are broader than justjoint ventures,” McDermond said. “We just can’t afford to do itpiecemeal any more. We’ve got to come together, to leverage ourresources and our expertise. I believe the LCC approach can provideadded value to existing partnerships and conservation organizationsby facilitating activities such as data sharing, conservationdesign, and identification of common goals.”
McDermond said he also made the career move for personal reasons.He and his wife, Denise Klimas, have East Coast roots. He grew upin Maryland, and his new office, housed at the North CarolinaWildlife Resources Commission at North Carolina State University inRaleigh, is just down Tobacco Road from the University of NorthCarolina, his wife’s alma mater.
“We’ve always been drawn to that area,” he said. And they werelooking for a good place to raise their two daughters, Maleah andJulia, ages 6 and 3. When the coordinator position came up,McDermond said he knew “this is something I could really get myenergy around, and take care of my personal life and myprofessional life.”
McDermond served four years in the U.S. Navy before joining theService in 1984 as a wildlife biologist at the Nisqually NationalWildlife Refuge in Olympia, WA. He’s also been a biologicaltechnician, an assistant refuge manager and a refuge manager inHonolulu.
About his new job, McDermond said he’s excited and a bitintimidated at the same time. The South Atlantic LandscapeConservation Cooperative is not going to be successful, he said,unless employees and partners “help create the goals and prioritiesand vision and have some buy-in. . . [The Service is] onlystimulating an approach here and bringing some capacity to thetable that hopefully everybody else can build upon.
“I’m really excited about the challenge and I appreciateeverybody’s faith in me. We’re investing a lot into this, in termsof our credibility, and I’m thankful for people’s support. I lookforward to working with everybody I can to build something we canall be proud of in the future.”