New Beginnings with the USFWS New Beginnings with the USFWS
15 July 2024

New Beginnings with the USFWS

Hello everyone! My name is Ascensy Perez and I am so excited to be working as a US Fish and Wildlife Fellow with Hispanic Access Foundation this year! Before I give you some more specific details about my fellowship with the USFWS, I want to share a little bit about my background. I am originally from Westchester, New York and graduated from the University of Oregon in March 2023 with a BS in Biology, a concentration in Ecology & Evolution, and a minor in Black Studies. While I was at UO, I developed a deep love for all things marine biology through laboratory assistant teaching positions and researching zooplankton physiology. After I graduated, I spent 6 months as a field ranger intern at the Siuslaw National Forest on the Oregon Coast, where I developed interpretive programs to promote the conservation of various important imperiled habitats and species. My time as a field ranger also introduced me to my newfound love of birding, whale watching, and a new career goal geared towards conservation!

Now that I’ve introduced myself, I want to switch gears and talk about my position with the USFWS. In essence, the key to understanding what I do is to first break down my long and slightly overwhelming position title – Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan Climate Fellow. 

What is an Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan?

An INRMP is a document that lays out a concise conservation or management plan for natural resources at military installations. Before I got this position, I had no idea that there was a partnership between the Department of Defense and the USFWS, or why that partnership even existed in the first place. However, I’ve since come to learn that the partnership is imperative for the management of almost 27 million acres of land and all species that inhabit them. 

INRMPs are mandated by the Sikes Act, which was passed in September of 1960. The Sikes Act provides the legal framework for the cooperation between the DoD and the USFWS, and essentially guarantees that there will be “no net loss” to the military mission or the capability of the installation’s natural resources to support the mission. INRMPs emphasize taking an ecosystem approach to management challenges, which helps to maximize conservation and protection efforts for important species and habitats within an installation. 

Where Does Climate Change Come In?

My job this year will be to work with 4 other other INRMP climate fellows to create climate profiles to add onto the INRMPs for each installation. Specifically, I will be working remotely from Lane County, Oregon this year to create climate profiles for installations in Region 1 (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Hawaii/Pacific Islands) and Region 7 (Alaska). The climate profiles will serve as a guide for how climate change might impact natural resources at the installations, and will be a useful resource for management planning and climate research in the future. Our climate profiles will specifically look at how projected changes will impact hazards like wildfires, increased air temperatures, riverine flooding, drought, precipitation changes, and more. 

All in all, I am so excited to be working with the USFWS and the other amazing fellows on this project. I am deeply passionate about conservation and climate action, and am honored to have been given such an amazing opportunity to do something so impactful. If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much for taking the time to read more about my project! I hope you all come back to hear more about my journey this year! 

P.S. My cover photo is a picture of one of my favorite local birding spots, Delta Ponds. Since I work remotely, I try to visit as much as possible to stay connected to the outdoors!

MANO Project
is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

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