USFWS hires new refuges and marine monuments supervisor for the Pacific


HONOLULU, Hawaii—The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has hired longtime natural resource professional Ric Lopez as the new Refuge and Monuments supervisor for the Pacific Islands Refuges and Monuments Office.

“Ric has a demonstrated work history of conservation and science leadership in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands,” said Robyn Thorson, regional director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “He will lead a team that is responsible for protecting over three-fourths of a billion acres of public land and waters, including 22 national wildlife refuges and four marine national monuments.”

Since 2017, Lopez has served as regional director for Research Partnerships and Collaboration for the USDA-Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station. The station is responsible for work in American Samoa, the CNMI, Guam, and Hawaii, as well as working with the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau. From 2013-2017, he served as director of the USDA-Forest Service’s Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry in Hilo, Hawaii. There he led ecosystem research, management, conservation and restoration efforts across the Pacific. Lopez previously served as the USDA-Forest Service national vegetation ecologist in Washington, D.C. and was a research scientist and branch chief for the Office of Research & Development at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Lopez earned his bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution at the University of California, San Diego, and then his masters and Ph.D. in Environmental Science at the Ohio State University, with emphases in Landscape Ecology and Wetland Ecology.

Lopez’s tenure as refuge and monuments supervisor will begin on Nov. 24.

National wildlife refuges and marine national monuments in the Pacific Islands are located across a geographic area larger than the continental United States. They include a diverse set of ecosystems ranging from the Mariana Trench to Mauna Kea, and from coral reefs to streams, rainforests and alpine deserts. The USFWS works with partners and communities to conserve lands and waters for the future, across the Pacific, including American Samoa, the CNMI, Guam, Hawaii and the remote Pacific Islands.

There are over one million annual visitors to the National Wildlife Refuge System in the Pacific Islands and millions more virtually visit these amazing places through environmental education programs and outreach such as virtual reality dives at coral reefs and web-based tours of remote islands.

“I am grateful for this new opportunity to contribute to the important goals of conservation among the wonderfully diverse ecosystems, communities, and partners of the Pacific Islands,” said Lopez. “I am so pleased to join in those ongoing efforts by way of my new position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” (PR)

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