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Williams nominated for director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Martha Williams at Montana Supreme Court

Martha Williams, serving as director of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, listens to questioning during a Montana Supreme Court hearing in 2018. 

Martha Williams, the current principal deputy director for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and former director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, was nominated Thursday by President Joe Biden to lead the federal agency.

Williams was appointed shortly after Biden’s inauguration to her deputy position before Thursday’s nomination to serve in the vacant director’s post. USFWS is part of the Department of the Interior under Secretary Deb Haaland. Williams will face a future confirmation vote in the Senate

While the service might be best known for its role managing species listed under the Endangered Species Act, it also oversees national and sometimes international conservation issues. Those include fisheries, hatcheries, migratory birds, ecological services and federal wildlife refuges.

In an interview after her appointment to deputy, Williams identified climate change as the most challenging issue she expects to tackle, but pointed out that many conservation issues are interwoven with other societal issues.

Williams worked as an attorney for FWP from 1998 to 2011, including on some major issues such as the state working to take over management of wolves.

She spent two years as a solicitor at Interior before returning to Montana and teaching for four years at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana. Then in 2017, former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Williams to lead FWP for his second term — a position she held until this year.

In an interview in April, she said she maintains a home in Helena and still considers it her home base.

Tom Kuglin is the deputy editor for the Lee Newspapers State Bureau. His coverage focuses on outdoors, recreation and natural resources.


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State Reporter/Outdoors Reporter

Tom Kuglin is the deputy editor for the Lee Newspapers State Bureau. His coverage focuses on outdoors, recreation and natural resources.

Related to this story

On this episode of Big Sky Lede, Montana State News Bureau reporter Tom Kuglin discusses a proposal from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks that seeks to make significant changes to hunting districts and permitting.

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