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FWP's Williams moves to DC

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Grizzly trapped

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Martha Williams, left, assists FWP bear managers Tim Manley and Neil Anderson with the examination of a grizzly bear trapped near Marion in 2018. 

Martha Williams just has to change one letter on her business card — from FWP to FWS.

President Joe Biden has named Williams, the former Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director, as his Interior Department Principal Deputy Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

There Williams will be directly involved in many issues she's overseen in Montana, including endangered species protection, wildlife refuge management and federal-state policy cooperation. The Fish and Wildlife Service oversees grizzly bear and bull trout recovery efforts, supervises popular hunting areas such as the C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge along the Missouri River, and regularly consults with other agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service on wildlife habitat issues. 

Williams has served in the Capitol before, spending two years as a deputy solicitor in Interior’s Parks and Wildlife Department. She also worked as an attorney for Montana FWP from 1998 to 2011 and taught law  for four years at the Blewett School of Law at the University of Montana. Former Gov. Steve Bullock named her to the FWP leadership in 2017.

“She works from not only the mind but the heart as well,” said FWP Region 1 Supervisor Jim Williams, no relation. “When you think of what to do next, that’s perfect after being state director.”

At FWP, Williams managed an agency with 686 full-time equivalent employees spread across seven regional headquarters. They in turn managed 55 state parks, multiple wildlife refuges, historic sites, cultural landmarks, fish hatcheries, scientific labs and educational programs.

“President Joseph R. Biden has made an excellent choice in appointing Martha Williams as Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Montana Wildlife Federation Board President Tom Puchlerz said in an email statement. “Martha has a wealth of knowledge and experience in managing public wildlife, public lands and waters, and striking that balance between people and wildlife in the many complex issues around these incredible resources. Montana and all Americans will benefit from her two decades of experience at both the state and federal level in wildlife law and on-the-ground management of fish, wildlife and public lands.”  

Williams replaces Margaret Everson, who served in the Trump administration since November 2018. On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Gianforte named FWP License Bureau Chief Henry “Hank” Worsech as his FWP director. Worsech, a Marine veteran, has worked for FWP for 17 years.

“Protecting our public lands and conserving wildlife is a shared priority of landowners, hunters, anglers, and all Montanans who cherish our outdoor heritage. It’s part of what defines our Montana way of life,” Gianforte said in an email statement on Wednesday. “With nearly two decades of experience with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Hank understands the importance of this tradition and is committed to strengthening it.” 

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