of Ian Thomas' Post to a newslist
Thomas' Website - including the maps in question
and Websites Don't Mix - Jeffrey Benner, Wired, Mar 23, 2001
Mapmaker, Caribou and Oil, Paul
Vitello, Newday, Mar 22, 2001
Nothing New In Washington - Richard Reeves, Yahoo, Mar 22, 2001
Ian Thomas was fired by USGS. Why? He claims that his maps of wildlife
interfered with the Bush administration�s desire to use public lands for
oil and gas exploration.
Thomas, a contract worker at the GIS & Remote Sensing Unit,
Biological Resources Division United States Geological Survey, Patuxent
Wildlife Research Center, had created a map that showed caribou calving
areas in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Government officials
say that Thomas did not follow procedures, was working outside his duties
and using outdated maps. �He was supposed to be working on migratory
birds,� says Jay Hestbeck, chief of research at Patuxent.
Although Thomas concedes his maps were inaccurate, he believes that the
USGS overreacted in firing him. Others suggest more political reasons.
Alaskan USGS officials had briefed Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton
on ANWR during that week. And, US President George Bush is working to open
the area to oil and gas drilling. Eric Wingerter, national field director
for the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, called the
Thomas notes his goals for publishing the maps this way: �I thought
that I was helping further public and scientific understanding and debate
of the issues at ANWR by making some clearer maps. I also hoped that
colleagues in USGS would see the maps and then contact me if they needed
additional mapping help. I was careful to quote my sources and explain
what I had done. I made no statement about what the maps might mean with
regard to oil development of the refuge.�
Thanks to Bill Thoen for forwarding the details of this story.