U.S. Co-chair, Northwest Boreal LCC
Refuge Manager – Kanuti National Wildlife Refure
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
101 12th Ave. Room 206
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701
(907) 456-0331 7023
Mike Spindler is currently the Refuge Manager of Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge, based in Fairbanks, Alaska. In 2005 he moved to Fairbanks after spending most of his career in bush Alaska. He has worked on the following Alaska National Wildlife Refuges: Arctic, Alaska Maritime, Selawik, Koyukuk and Nowitna. Prior to starting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mike earned his Master’s in Wildlife Management at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 1977. His research included a study of landbird habitat preferences in the boreal forest of the Tanana River Valley. Prior to that he earned his BS from Louisiana State University, studying forestry.
Mike was involved in the initiation of the Northwest Boreal LCC, leading several internal Fish and Wildlife Service organizational meetings, starting in December 2010, and extending into 2011. Since the original charter meeting in Whitehorse, May 2012, Mike has been one of four Service employees who have ‘tag-teamed’ to represent FWS on the Steering Committee.
Mike is passionate about the conservation of National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska and sees his involvement in the Northwest Boreal LCC as an extension of those efforts. He believes that the LCC can assist agencies and non-governmental organizations by leveraging and coordinating science support for their large landscape conservation efforts. Mike is also keenly interested in helping the Fish and Wildlife Service reduce their carbon footprint. He has worked towards strategically locating some employees at field stations close to the refuge, and making all those field operations more sustainable by installation of solar-electric and solar-thermal systems. Mike has been working towards developing local expertise and becoming more invested and rooted in local communities near the refuge. He is committed to developing comfortable and sustainable infrastructure at the doorstep of the refuge, and then recruiting and retaining a field-based portion of the refuge staff to work closer to the refuge. Mike says “In an era of limited budgets, the government’s typical response of consolidation and centralization is not always best. We can actually be more efficient and effective if we ‘right-size and right-place’ some of our staff in rural communities.”
Mike has one other passion at work, and that is flying small aircraft. He has been a “dual-function” refuge manager/pilot and “biologist-pilot for most of his career. He flies aircraft ranging in size from the small Super-Cub and Scout two-seat tandems to the larger four-place Cessna 185s and 206s. Having ability to fly himself and his staff to the refuge and nearby communities has resulted in improvements in both efficiency and community relations.
Mike looks forward to using his varied northern experiences to help implement the LCC’s recently-approved Strategic Plan, and continue to foster northern science cooperation across the Northwest Boreal. He said “As a refuge manager, I need to be thinking 50 years into the future – assessing threats to refuge resources that are developing outside refuge boundaries and finding opportunities to work with others to address those threats. The Northwest Boreal LCC is a great forum to bring stakeholders with divergent ideas together to discuss them.”
Canada Co-chair, Northwest Boreal LCC
Manager – Habitat Programs
Environment Yukon, Fish and Wildlife