Griffith, Richard E. (Deceased)
Dick was born on December 2, 1910, in Carthage, New York, graduated in 1929 from New York State Ranger School (renamed Wanakena Campus, New York State College of Environmental Science and Forestry) and completed high school in 1931. He received a BS degree in forest zoology in 1936. Dick was project biologist and acting site director for the Resettlement Administration (Erieville, New York) from May 1936 to June 1937. Dick was appointed junior biologist, Division of Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Biological Survey, July 1937. He was assigned to reconnaissance of waterfowl migration stops and wintering grounds in the eastern United States, which was a follow-up on some of Fran Uhler’s work. Dick was assigned to Refuge Division Headquarters, Washington, D.C., as staff assistant to the late J. Clark Salyer, II. He participated in the planning and implementation of wildlife management projects throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System. Dick initiated the designation of natural areas in the Refuge System and the use of fire in managing wildlife habitat. Based on an on-site assessment, he characterized the 1946 Kenai, Alaska, wild fire as beneficial for wildlife. A fellow forester strongly disagreed, claimed the burned area would be sterile for many years, thus initiating a department review. However, Dick was vindicated when vegetation soon erased fire scars, there was an abundance of browse, and the moose population rapidly increased. Dick was appointed assistant chief, Division of Wildlife Refuges, in 1956. He represented the Fish and Wildlife Service at Senate Committee hearings for Federal Agencies on the Wilderness Bill and, according to the late Howard Zahniser, then executive director of the Wilderness Society, became the first Federal official to endorse the legislation subsequently exacted by the Congress. Dick was appointed chief of wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northwest Region, 1958. He initiated Nene Goose Recovery Program with assistance of Dick Woodward, Director of Wildlife, Territory of Hawaii, and also initiated the Willamette Valley Refuges, Oregon, and the Grays Lake Refuge, Idaho, thereby, completing a part of Clark Salyer’s long-range plan. Dick was director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region from 1965 to 1975. He received the Award of Merit for support of Maine’s fish and wildlife conservation and Atlantic salmon restoration, the John Pearce Memorial Award, and the Department of the Interior Distinguished Service Award (for personally establishing several National Wildlife Refuges). Dick retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in June 1975. While a resident of Washington, New Hampshire from 1976 to 1994, he served as chairman of several boards. From 1994 to 1995, he was a volunteer for the Office of International Studies, Southwestern Oregon Community College, Coos Bay, Oregon. He assisted in English as a second language classes and was a volunteer at Langlois, Oregon Middle School, assisting 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students with math and science. His wife of 50 years died in November 1982. He lived in the summer home that they had built on Island Pond near Washington NH until 1994. He moved to Oregon in 1994 and helped his daughter develop a home on 30 wooded acres about 1/2 mile inland from the Pacific Ocean. He is the Grandfather of 8, Great Grandfather of 23 and is soon to be a Great-Great Grandfather. He was concerned about the designation of the local beach as potential nesting habitat for the western snowy plover (2001-2004) which led the US Fish and Wildlife Service to restrict activity on the beach where he liked to go walking daily. His son arranged a meeting with the local biologists responsible for the snowy plover habitat management. They had an amiable discussion on the quality of the habitat available near Langlois and visited a more suitable site that was being modified to attract plover nesting. Eventually USFWS agreed that the Langlois beach was not, and probably never would be, plover habitat and the beach access restrictions were lifted. This was probably the last time he was involved in a human-wildlife interaction issue. Dick was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1948 and was a non-resident member from 1976 to 2006. He is currently living in an assisted living facility in Bandon, Oregon about 1/2 mile inland with a clear view of the harbor and ocean. He can watch the waves and the boats and hear the surf and the fog horn. Dick died July 7, 2014. His memorial service was held on August 9, 2014 in Utah.