Jamie Rappaport Clark once headed the Fish and Wildlife Service under Bill Clinton. Soon she will become president of Defenders of Wildlife, where she promises to press the Obama administration to make full use of the Endangered Species Act to stem the decline of sensitive and imperiled species. Photo courtesy of Jim Clark.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, the former Fish and Wildlife Service director who later this year takes over one of Washington, D.C.'s most influential environmental advocacy groups, Defenders of Wildlife, pledged to "be absolutely rock solid" in holding the Obama administration accountable for its decisions on endangered species and conservation.
And while agreeing with other critics that FWS has not done enough to protect imperiled plants and animals under President Obama, Clark believes the agency's problems stem from a near decade of poor leadership and budget cuts under the George W. Bush administration, and that its incoming director, Dan Ashe, can restore the agency's strength and vitality within the Interior Department.
"I expected more out of the Obama administration, but I am hopeful," Clark said during an interview this week at Defenders' headquarters. "I'd like to see a conservation mandate coming out of the White House."
Clark, 53, believes she had such a mandate as FWS director under President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001, when roughly 65 new species each year were added to the Endangered Species List. By comparison, the Obama administration has extended ESA protections to roughly 32 species a year, while the George W. Bush administration listed about eight species annually.