Southwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America

Lake Havasu



Jennie Duberstein holds a vulture

As part of the Sonoran Joint Venture, Jennie Duberstein helps conserve the birds and habitats of the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico— and that includes the Turkey Vulture. Photo credit: Jean-François Therrien.

A Birding Interview with Jennie Duberstein

The June 2015 issue of Birding Magazine, the flagship publication of the American Birding Association, features an interview of Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, Jennie Duberstein. You will learn about what inspired a career in conservation and what motivates and inspires her today in her work with the Sonoran Joint Venture.

Read the blog post on Canicas Running

Read the entire interview article from Birding Magazine

Learn more about Birding from the American Birding Association







Tuggle and YMCA Director help plant trees.

Regional Director Tuggle and YMCA of Central New Mexico President Fritz participate in the habitat restoration service project. Photo credit: J. Viramontes, USFWS.

boys from the YMCA plant native trees

Youth from the YMCA get outdoors to plant native habitat. Photo credit: K. Garrahan, USFWS.

Albuquerque Selected as Priority City to Connect Youth to the Great Outdoors!

July 2015
As part of the Interior Department’s leadership of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative to engage the next generation of outdoor stewards and inspire millions of young adults to play, learn, serve and work in the great outdoors, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry joined Janice Schneider, Assistant Secretary of Land Minerals Management, Cezanne Fritz, President & CEO of the YMCA of Central New Mexico, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle at a celebration event today to announce that Albuquerque has been selected as one of the first 50 cities to participate in the nationwide movement!  Youth from the local YMCA and local urban conservation corps crews joined in the celebration as well, assisting with a service project as part of the event.     

Learn more... 

Let's move outside!








Austin Blind Salamander

Austin Blind Salamander. Photo credit: © Liza Coluzzi, City of Austin, 2008.

Service Proposes Adding Austin Blind Salamander to the Barton Springs Salamander Recovery Plan

July 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the availability of a draft addendum to the 2005 Barton Springs salamander Recovery Plan to include the Austin blind salamander. By supplementing the Barton Springs salamander Recovery Plan with the draft addendum for the Austin blind salamander, we believe we can more efficiently and effectively recover the Austin blind salamander. The public will have 60 days to review and comment on the proposed addendum. Additional information on the draft addendum is available at

Learn more...
Federal Register Notice


2 pronghorns drink at watering hole

Pronghorns drink from watering hole. Photo credit: USFWS.

Service Soliciting Public Feedback on Draft Sonoran Pronghorn Recovery Plan

July 2015
A draft plan to help guide recovery efforts for the endangered Sonoran pronghorn is now available for public review. The plan is a revision of the 1998 Sonoran Pronghorn Recovery Plan. The impetus for this revision is new information obtained on Sonoran pronghorn, new identified threats to the species, and new management efforts in the U.S. and Mexico.
The draft recovery plan lays out a strategy to recover the pronghorn that includes protecting habitat; increasing and protecting current populations and establishing at least one new population; removing, reducing, or managing threats to the species; and identifying and addressing priority monitoring and research needs.

Learn more...


Dr Tuggle holds a grasshopper

Regional Director Tuggle inspects a grasshopper at the Garden. Photo credit: USFWS.

Dr. Tuggle meets the mayor of Liberty Tx

Mayor of Liberty Carl Pickett, Dr. Tuggle and Refuge Biologist Laurie Gonzales greet each other at the Garden. Photo credit: USFWS.

The Pollinator Celebrations Continue!

July 2015
National Pollinator Month ended with a flurry of activities around the Southwest Region! Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service's Southwest Region (Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, & Arizona) stopped by Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Liberty, Texas on June 30 to close out the month long celebration. Dr. Tuggle and a variety of guests, including Liberty Mayor Carl Pickett, got a first hand look at the Refuge's 5,000 square foot fully accessible butterfly/hummingbird garden which was built and funded by volunteers from the Friends of Trinity River Refuge. Numerous butterflies and large grasshoppers were found throughout the garden. Dr. Tuggle observed the various plant species used as nectar (flowers) for butterflies and hummingbirds or as a food source (leaves) for butterfly and moth caterpillars. Although June is officially National Pollinator Month, you can celebrate pollinators all year!

Learn about Pollinators in the Southwest Region
Learn more about Pollinators
Learn about Monarch butterflies
Visit Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge






alligator snapping turtle, arizona toad, cascadecaverns salamander

Alligator snapping turtle, photo credit: USFWS; Arizona toad, photo credit: Jeff Servoss USFWs; and Cascade Caverns salamander, photo credit Nathan Bendik.

Service Initiates Status Review For Four Species In AZ, NM, TX, And OK

June 2015
The Service is announcing initiating status reviews for the Arizona toad, Cascade Caverns salamander, Rio Grande cooter (a turtle), and Alligator snapping turtle in response to a July 2012 petition from the Center of Biological Diversity.  Our announcement begins a 60-day information collection period which closes on August 31, 2015.

In the case of the Arizona toad, Cascade Caverns salamander, Rio Grande cooter and Alligator snapping turtle the Service has determined the petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that these species may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The announcement begins a 60-day information collection period which closes on August 31, 2015.

Learn more...
Federal Register Notice







Planting pollinator garden in downtown Albuquerque

Photo credit: USFWS.

Planting pollinator garden in downtown Albuquerque

Photo credit: USFWS.

Urban Pollinator Garden in Downtown Albuquerque!

June 2015
The southwestern US is a haven for pollinators. From moist river-side areas, to the Texas coast and marshes, to the semitropical borderlands with Mexico, to the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts, on into the grasslands, and among mountain ranges and valleys, the landscape diversity provides a wide array of homes to insect pollinators, as well as birds and bats.

Planting pollinator garden in downtown Albuquerque

Photo credit: USFWS.

On the morning of June 25th, a YCC crew joined Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle, and Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, Aaron Archibeque, to plant a pollinator garden in front of the Federal Building in Downtown Albuquerque! This new garden, consisting of all native species, will soon host a variety of pollinators – often unnoticed creatures that are vitally important to our everyday lives.

Learn more about pollinators.



monarch butterfly on sunflower

Monarch butterfly on sunflower. Photo credit: USFWS.

Monarch Butterflies in the Southwest Region

June 2015
Butterflies can be seen on every national wildlife refuge in the Southwest Region.  They, along with many other pollinators such as honey bees, play a vital role in our everyday lives.  They help provide much of the food that we eat, pollinating nearly 75% of our crops! But in the United States, pollinators, including many butterfly species, are in steep decline due to loss of habitat, urban sprawl, pesticide use, and weather extremes. 

Visit our Monarch page where you will find a variety of ways you can help save butterflies! 


Fellows Naneah Lindsey and Joey Peters with advisor Joaquin Baca,

Fellows Naneah Lindsey and Joey Peters with advisor Joaquin Baca, Photo credit: USFWS.

Joaquin Baca and Rick Cantu Represented the Southwest Region as a Career Advisors for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Directorate Fellows Program

June 2015
This past June Hydrologist Joaquin Baca and Biologist Rick Cantu were invited to represent the Southwest Region as Career Advisors for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Directorate Fellows Program (DFP). In its second year, the DFP is a new fellowship program designed to give a highly diverse and talented group of graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in rigorous internships. Students, who participated in the one week orientation program, attended courses associated with the Service’s mission, its history, and leadership.

Directorate Fellows Program, Cohort 4

Directorate Fellows Program, Cohort 4, Photo credit: USFWS.

The students were also provided information on, communications, conservation ethics, and general field training; all in preparation for their upcoming internship projects. Fellows had the opportunity to participate in various outdoor activities such as kayaking, and archery; reminding the Fellows of why so many of the current members of the Service have chosen the conservation career path.

Career Advisors were on hand to provide insight, training, and a friendly face to the Fellows as they begin their journey in conservation. Career Advisors also had the opportunity to develop their own leadership and mentorship skills. According to Baca, “The opportunity to coach and mentor future members of the Service is both rewarding and humbling.”

Students who complete the program are awarded with Direct Hire Authority.

Learn more about the Directorate Fellows Program.


international visitors tour tribal lands
International visitors tour tribal lands. Photo credit: USFWS.

International Visitors Tour Successful Natural Resource Conservation Projects on Tribal Lands

June 2015
​The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Southwest Region worked with the U.S. Department of State to provide a tour of Natural Resource Conservation Projects on Tribal lands for seven International visitors touring sites in New Mexico. Traveling from Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru, these visitors were looking for opportunities to study indigenous communities in the United States and to see the tribal trust relations between the tribes and the Federal government. To meet this request, the FWS assisted in arranging a tour of the Pueblo of Santa’s bosque and wilderness areas on June 18, 2015. These Tribal lands feature several successful Tribal Wildlife Grant (TWG) projects. In addition to the successful TWG projects, the Pueblo has also been involved in a many other cooperative projects (i.e. Safe Harbor Agreement) in partnership with the FWS benefiting threatened and endangered species (e.g. silvery minnow and southwestern willow flycatcher).​

Learn more about this successful tour.
Visit the Pueblo of Santa Ana’s website to learn more about these natural resource management programs.


Boy lokks at monarch butterfly
A monarch butterfly captures the attention of a young boy. Ryan Hargerty, USFWS.

Have You Heard the Buzz?

June 2015
June is Pollinator Month and time to celebrate! Pollinators, such as honey bees and monarch butterflies, play an essential role in our everyday lives. They help provide much of the food that we eat, pollinating nearly 75% of our crops! But pollinators are in steep decline and need our help. Find out how you can help save pollinators!

Going the Distance for Pollinators
Learn more about Pollinators
Save the Monarch


The Federal Executive Board Awards

June 2015
The Federal Executive Boards (FEBs)
are a forum for communication and collaboration among Federal agencies outside of Washington, DC. The National network of 28 FEBs, located in areas of significant Federal populations, serves as the cornerstone for strategic partnering in Government and its purpose is to increase the effectiveness of Federal Government by strengthening coordination of government activities.

Each year the Federal Executive Board recognizes the outstanding commitment of federal employees with the Federal Employees Recognition Awards – Excellence in Government. This year, eleven employees of the Southwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were recognized for their exceptional and tireless commitment to the Region, their Agency and to public service.  Their actions such as leading the way in government agency work schedules and positive, diverse work environment; creating cohesive teamwork and unselfish willingness to support staff;  instrumentally contributing to management actions aimed at the recovery of federally endangered species; ensuring that operations continue in support of the program mission in times of reduced staff; and maintaining professionalism and high-levels of customer service are all examples of the dedication of the recipients of this year’s FEB Awards. They are: 

Employer of Choice, the Southwest Region of the USFWS
Federal Supervisor/Manager of the Year, David Mendias, Assistant Regional Director, Budget and Administration
Federal Employee of the Year - Professional, Administrative, Technical, Ernest Teller Sr., Biological Science Technician
Team Excellence, Division of Contracting and General Services, Southwest Region
Federal Employee of the Year - Professional, Administrative, Technical, Nicole Jimenez, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, WSFR
Federal Employee of the Year - Clerical and Assistant, Alice Montoya, National Wildlife Refuge System and Annessa Culbreth, Science Applications
Federal Employee of the Year - Trades and Crafts, Dick Langford, Facilities Operations Specialist, Bosque del Apache NWR
Exceptional Community Service, Jennifer Owen-White, Refuge Manager, Valle de Oro NWR
Federal Employee of the Year - Diversity Champion, Aaron Archibeque, Regional Chief, NWRS
Leader, Mentor, and Coach of the Year, Susan Jacobsen, Chief Classification and Restoration Division, Ecological Services

Congratulations to the recipients of this year’s FEB Awards and thank you for your efforts!


safety awards presented in June
Patrick McDermott and Steve McEvoy from the Southwest Region Safety Office, present awards to regional field stations. Photo credit: USFWS.

Southwest Region Safety Awards

June 2015
On June 9, 2015 the Regional Safety Office presented the Excellence in Safety Award to three field sites; two quarterly and the yearly winners.

The Arizona Ecological Services Field Offices, yes – all of them, are deserving of the Quarterly Award. Their notable achievements are how well the CDSOs work together and provide each other support. This teamwork is evident in the improvement in their Safety Assessment results in successive years.

The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is deserving of the Quarterly Award. Their CDSO program is outstanding. They have an overlapping process where there are two CDSOs on station that serve for two years each. Their Safety Assessment results showed a great improvement from the previous year – over 120 findings to less than 10. There was an obvious dedication from the Refuge Manager and refuge staff, the new CDSO and the Maintenance shop to reduce that number so significantly.

The Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery is deserving of the Annual Award for 2014. Their CDSO program is outstanding. The active CDSOs consist of 40 percent of the assigned staff. Their Safety Assessment results showed improvement from the previous year – the assessment has been completed by outside resources for the past two years.


kempley sea turtle strides into ocean
A sea turtles strides off into the ocean. Photo credit: James Primrose, NOAA.

FWS Coastal ES Office Assists NOAA, Moody Gardens, and Houston Zoo to Release 51 Listed Sea Turtles

June 2015
On May 27, 2015, FWS biologists from the Texas Coastal Ecological Services Field Office in Houston, assisted NOAA, Moody Gardens, and the Houston Zoo with the release 51 endangered sea turtles at Stewart Beach in Galveston, Texas. Forty-nine of the sea turtles had been rescued last December in the Cape Cod area after suffering from the cold. Fifty of turtles released were Kemp’s ridleys and one was a loggerhead sea turtle. Despite the rainy, muddy weather, it was a well-attended community event centered on sea turtle outreach and endangered species education.

Way to go Coastal ES office!

Check out the YouTube video showcasing the release effort!


monarch butterflies on plant leaf
Monarch butterflies resting after a long migration. Photo credit: Ryan Hagerty, USFWS.

Governor Proclaims Importance of Butterflies

June 2015
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has declared June 6 “Butterfly Education and Awareness Day” throughout the state.  Recognizing that butterflies are a valuable environmental indicator and make our world more beautiful by their presence, the Governor signed a Proclamation creating the statewide celebration. 

Read the Proclamation
Visit the Save the Monarch site  
Download the June 6 Butterfly Awareness Day flyer

Attend Pollinator Day at the Albuquerque Botanical Garden June 20th.






Red drum fish
A very happy visitor caught this Red Drum fish on Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: Steve Hillebrand, USFWS.

Texas Refuge Makes Fishing’s Hot 100 List!

June 2015
Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge lies along the Gulf Coast just outside of Houston, Texas, one of the largest cities in America. The Refuge was just listed at #50 in America’s Top Family Fishing and Boating Spots Sweepstakes! The fishing and boating community view the Refuge as a great place for families and beginners to cast a line and enjoy the great outdoors! Check out more top fishing spots near you!

Top Places on
Visit Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge


Service Proposes Delisting the Hualapai Mexcian Vole

June 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove from the Endangered Species list the Hualapai Mexican vole of northwestern Arizona. The proposal is based on extensive reevaluation of the endangered subspecies’ status and updated genetic information. Publication of the proposal begins a 60-day comment period.

Learn more...
Read the published notice from the Federal Register, June 4, 2015.


two boys fishing
Many refuges offer great fishing opportunities. Photo credit: Carl Zitsman, USFWS.

Time to Get Outside!

June 2015
The weather is great, plants are in bloom, and wildlife abounds. It’s time to get outside! June is Great Outdoors Month and America’s national wildlife refuges are perfect places to celebrate! Find your outdoor adventure on a refuge and join the fun!

The Presidential Proclamation
Find a Refuge Near You


Service Issues 90-Day Finding on BoneCave Harvestman Delisting Petition

June 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing that a petition to delist the Bone Cave harvestman does not provide substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that delisting the Bone Cave harvestman may be warranted.

Read additional information on the 90-day finding.
Federal Register


Refuge Closures

May 2015
After a series of severe weather events on Memorial Day weekend across Texas and Oklahoma, a number of refuges are experiencing full or partial closures due to flooding and storm damage and to ensure public safety.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma), Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma), and Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge (Texas) are closed until further notice.

If you are planning to visit a refuge in one of the affected states, please call ahead to determine the status of public access. Contact information for individual refuges can be found by clicking on the refuge name above, by phone at:

Wichita Mountains NWR - 580-429-3222
Tishomingo NWR - 580-371-2402
Hagerman NWR - 903-786-2826 ,

or by contacting Nancy Brown, Public Outreach Specialist, at 512-339-9432 (work) or 830-220-4760 (cell).

Keep up-to-date on our Refuge Facebook page.


CEMEX Construction Materials South Submits Draft Habitat Conservation Plan 

May 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing the availability of an incidental take permit application that includes a draft Habitat Conservation Plan (dHCP) for the CEMEX Balcones Quarry Northeast Area Tract in Comal County, Texas. Publication of this notice begins a 60-day comment period. Comments will be accepted until July 13, 2015.

Read additional information on the dHCP and the draft Environmental Assessment, as well as information on how to comment

Southwest Region Archived News Releases

Search additional archived news releases for the Southwest Region
Refuges Trailcam Gallery
Monarch Butterflies in the Southwest Region
Wolf Recovery Program
New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse

Introducing…Wildlife Selfies!
The Southwest Region has a brand new interactive webpage; every month new, exciting refuge trailcam photos will be highlighted.  Simply click on the Refuge
Trailcam button and enjoy!  And remember…check back often!

Visit the Southwest Region's Refuge Trailcam site of Wildlife Selfies!


Projects Using State Wildlife Grants
There are many projects using State Wildlife Grants taking place in the Southwest Region.Learn more...

R2 LE Agent Receives Honor Award for Role in Operation Black Gold
Learn more...
Summer Jobs at Trinity River NWR
Liberty, Texas - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, through the Youth Conservation Corps program, is seeking applications from young men and women age 15 to 18 for two summer positions.
Learn more...

The Arizona Game and Fish Department recognizes two of our employees
Learn more...

Science Leadership Award
Grant Harris receives recognition for scientific leadership
Learn more...
Southwest Region's Wounded Warriors
There are eight Wounded Warriors who have joined our ranks
Learn more...

Two New Refuges
Two new refuges in the Southwest Region are the 559th and 560th refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Learn more...



Last updated: July 15, 2015