Thomas L. Warren
Thomas L. Warren (AKA Tom or Grizzly) is a Certified Wildlife Biologist with almost 40 years of experience, primarily serving two of the Department of Army’s most successful environmental, natural, cultural, sustainability, and military training resource-related management programs. Tom has covered the conservation waterfront in coordination with and management of diverse military missions and unique resource management mandates and considerations to achieve overall sustainability and stewardship of the public trust. He has extensive experience in virtually all environmental resource management disciplines.
Following an Army tour of duty, earning BS and MS degrees from the University of Louisville, working some for a couple other agencies/activities, Tom returned to DoD and started his career as an environmental intern at Fort Sill, OK in 1980, where he spent considerable time working and volunteering in the Natural Resources Division. In 1983 he moved to Fort Carson (137,000 acres) as the Director, Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, which later became the DECAM in 1990.
Tom and his dedicated crew managed both Fort Carson and the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, a 245,000-acre training site in southeastern Colorado using partnerships with universities, state and federal agencies, nongovernmental agencies, and volunteers to document, for the first time on a major training site, conditions prior to use by heavy mechanized training forces. For 30 years they monitored effects of often intense heavy military training on PCMS. Tom spent thousands of unpaid hours working with commanders training on PCMS to ensure their training needs were fully attained without long-term damage to the valuable training lands and its ecological values.
Since 1983, PCMS has been transformed from an overgrazed pasture into the finest ecological site of any significant size in that part of the State… all while serving the training needs of America’s troops. PCMS, more than any other of his illustrious accomplishments, is Thomas L. Warren’s legacy. He has proven, beyond a shadow of doubt, that intensive military training can be sustainably accomplished in a manner highly beneficial to the ecological value of a huge landscape.
Tom has been recognized by both Secretaries of Army and Defense as Conservationist of the Year. In addition, he and his natural resources management programs were judged best in the Army in 1987 and best in Defense in 1989. As a pioneer in achieving Directorate status for his environmental program, Tom demonstrated the inherent value in such organizational status. When the Army decided to downgrade environmental directorates, the Fort Carson DECAM was the last major installation to survive that organizational change.
Tom used at least 137 personnel from Federal, State, and local government, universities, nongovernment organizations, contractors, interns, and volunteers in his programs with annual operations budgets exceeding $25 million. His commitment to the profession didn’t end after 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, or even just over 2,000 hours a year. He easily added 50% of volunteer time and often worked over 100 hours a week. He maintained State and Federal law enforcement authorities as well as certification as a wildland firefighter and chief.
Tom has served as the Director, Directorate of Environmental Compliance and Management (DECAM); Acting Facilities Engineer; and Deputy Garrison Commander, Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS), all while assigned to Fort Carson, Colorado. He initiated and directed program implementation of what has become the largest Army Compatible Use Buffer-related acquisition of permanent conservation easements on private lands adjacent to any Defense facility (as of 2015).
And, when long job days were over, Tom Warren found time for important volunteer opportunities in the conservation world. On his own time, Tom’s unsung achievements in the risky undercover world for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service led to apprehensions of many wildlife felons in a large number of States.
While at Fort Sill, Tom became involved with the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation where he quickly became Conservation Vice President, the organization’s so-called War Lord. He helped bring timber giant Weyerhaeuser to the negotiations table where it agreed to dramatically change its forest management program into a far better system for wildlife and recreational users.
Not long after moving to Colorado, Tom became President of the Colorado Wildlife Federation. That position, in turn, led to his involvement with the world’s largest conservation nongovernmental organization, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Tom served on the NWF Board for 15 years, becoming Chair of that Board in 1995. He was the only NWF Chair to serve as acting President/CEO for the organization during an extended search for a permanent replacement. He also served a term on the NWF Endowment Board.
In 2006, Tom Warren was asked to serve as Treasurer on the reactivated Wildlife Action Fund, an independent political arm of NWF. In 2011, he became Chair of that C4 organization. He still serves on that Board of Directors, working to support conservation political action and those who are seeking office to achieve conservation goals.
Tom was, and is, an active member of The Wildlife Society. Shortly after moving to Colorado, he served in several leadership positions and later became President of that State’s chapter.
Tom was one of the founders of the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association (NMFWA). There were many obstacles to the creation of NMFWA, primarily involving the independent status of an organization comprised entirely of Defense employees. Starting about 1980, Tom worked to resolve the tricky issue of ensuring that more isolated members had equal status to that of a powerful coalition of more numerous southeastern U.S. members. He helped write the Association’s Constitution and Bylaws, and in 1983 NMWFA was officially created, to a large degree thanks to Tom’s involvement. Following a term as Secretary/Treasurer, Tom became the second President of NMFWA (1986-88). The reauthorization of the Sikes Act in 1986 was the Association's most controversial action to that date. NMFWA had taken stands as early as 1984 on matters included in the Sikes Act, such as protection from contracting out and equal status of fish and wildlife managers with other DoD natural resources managers. However, NMFWA decided against supporting this reauthorization when it was first introduced since DoD opposed the bill.
Unofficially, the Sikes Act, with strong amendments, was passed primarily due to the efforts of individuals within NMFWA, including President Tom Warren. Eventually, NMFWA supported passage of the bill in spite of DoD opposition.
President Warren’s diplomacy and efforts to make NMFWA a means to support both command and installation interests were milestones of his term in office. An early concern of the Association was dissemination of natural resources job announcements within Defense. Warren had been appointed chairman of a special committee to look into the matter in late 1983. During his term as President, the issue was resolved using the Armed Forces Pest Management Board official directory.
In 1987 President Warren established an Awards Committee, an outgrowth of an impressive awards effort with passage of the Sikes Act. At the 1988 Association meeting the first Awards Banquet was sponsored by the newly formed Awards Committee.
President Warren established a wildlife law enforcement special committee, which created sponsorship for conservation law enforcement training within NMFWA. NMFWA sponsored basic and advanced wildlife law enforcement courses at Fort Carson, CO in 1986, 1987, 1993, 1998, and 2005 using Tom’s staff and personal support from the USFWS and several State law enforcement agencies.
In addition Tom has served as chairs of the Resolutions, Job Announcements, and Archives (since 1997) committees. In 2001 the Association presented Tom Warren with its prestigious Presidential Award for his bio-political efforts on behalf of Defense conservation. Not to be satisfied to rest, in 2015 Tom co-authored and published the Association’s history.
Much to his chagrin, Tom retired from Defense in 2011. He is now President of his own conservation consulting business, Tatanka Group, LLC, specializing in support of Defense and other conservation easement efforts. And, if that we
re not enough, in late 2013, after some 25 years of effort, Tom spearheaded the nation’s first private Safe Harbor introduction of black-footed ferrets on a private ranch. This pioneering work has led to other ongoing introductions of ferrets on both private and municipal open
space lands, considered critical to species recovery. You can often find Tom running spotlights monitoring this species’ status, as a volunteer…. to nobody’s surprise. Thomas L. Warren has contributed significantly throughout the conservation world. His professional life demonstrated that maintaining our nation’s military preparedness and sustaining lands required by our troops are not only compatible, but complementary. He is a first class professional conservationist and has demonstrated leadership in that role at every installation organizational level. He has been a front-line warrior fighting extreme wildfires as well as those who would illegally endanger our wildlife heritage. He has been a tireless volunteer conservationist, rising to the top of some of the world’s top professional and nongovernmental organizations. He helped found the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association and has served that organization for three and one-half decades.
Tom Warren was an inspiration, a leader, a mentor, a founder and a friend.