SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - Dan Frisk, project leader at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Ohio, will assume the leadership role at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge on July 25.

Frisk, 46, replaces Rick Frietsche. Frietsche resigned in January to take a job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 3 office in Minneapolis.

"I talked with Rick and I feel a lot of our management approach is pretty similar," Frisk said. "I look forward to coming down there and talking with those folks and working with the staff.

"I know there is a great staff there. I hope to not go in and make any big changes, but let them do their work and work together as a team."

A five-year veteran of Fish and Wildlife, Frisk has worked in wildlife-related positions for 15 years. Before his appointment at Ottawa, he was project leader at Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina.

A former Army officer, Frisk served six years as an endangered species biologist at Fort Bragg, N.C. He has a zoology degree from Northern Michigan University and a master's in biology from Murray State University in Kentucky.

"I like the public-use aspect of refuges," Frisk said. "My background was in wildlife and working as a biologist. What we're doing at my present site is we're increasing our outreach.

"I have an interest in that. I enjoy that aspect of my job, working with people, sharing the great resources we have. I truly believe it is the public's resource. I feel I'm the steward of the resource."

The 43,500-acre Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge attracts about 1 million visitors annually.

Crab Orchard presents a unique set of challenges, given the recreational, wildlife, industrial and agricultural aspects.

"I've already reviewed that, looked at it and see some things that are certainly not typical of refuges," Frisk said.

"We try to listen. The only thing I can do is give people the respect to listen to them and then a decision has to be made."

And, the natural resources of Crab Orchard and its three lakes were not lost on Frisk.

"I think it's an opportunity to really get the public involved, having them right there in our back yard. It is the public's resource. I'm looking forward to getting down there and getting to know the local community."

les.winkeler@thesouthern.com 618-997-3356 x15805

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