This summer, a derelict dam was finally removed from Mossy Creek in Augusta County, Virginia. In addition to the dam removal, nearly 2,300 linear feet of stream were restored back to a more natural state.
Like so many other waterways on the East Coast, Mossy Creek was altered through time to meet the needs of the community. During the 18th century, an ironworks including a forge, furnace and other facilities, like a flour mill, existed here. A wooden dam and raceway channeled water needed for these operations.
In 2010, a partnership formed to restore Watts Branch, a tributary of the Anacostia River, one of the most urban watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay drainage basin. The main focus was to restore the eroded stream channel and improving habitat for local fish and wildlife. But restoring Watts Branch also had a substantial impact on the local economy, supporting 45 jobs, $2.6 million in labor income and $3.4 million in value added.
Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Program announces newsletter
First issue of the Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Programs newsletter, inaugural issue..
Charged with eradicating the invasive nutria from the Delmarva Peninsula, a team of specialists spent 8 years developing trapping strategies to eliminate this destructive animal. More than 13,500 nutria were removed from nearly 160,000 acres of marshes. Today Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, the core of the infestation, is virtually nutria-free. Now the team is gearing up to use these methods on the remaining populations on the Eastern Shore.
Read Nutria News here.
Yellow Perch abnormalities linked to development and pollution in three Maryland rivers
Yellow perch. Illustration by Duane Raver.
Federal and state scientists have found reproductive abnormalities in yellow perch in three Maryland rivers that flow through highly suburban or rapidly developing areas. The results of the three-year study by U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Maryland Department of Natural Resources help explain the biology behind poor
survival of yellow perch eggs and larvae in some Chesapeake Bay tidal rivers running through suburban areas. Published studies suggest these abnormalities result from
exposure to environmental contaminants, but more research is necessary to identify specific contaminants and their role in fish reproduction.
Read more here . . .
Read the article in the Baltimore Sun . . .
Latest Scientific Review is Good News for Delmarva Fox Squirrel!
Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel. Photo by Mary Konchar.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has completed a scientific review of all available information about the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel, more commonly called the Delmarva fox squirrel, which has been on the List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife as endangered since 1967. The review concludes that the squirrel is recovered and recommends proposing to remove it from the list. The Service will begin working on this proposal.
The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to use the best available scientific and commercial data to conduct a review of each threatened and endangered species every five years. This review ensures the accuracy of the species’ classification as threatened or endangered. The Service’s analysis of the best available data concludes that the fox squirrel’s abundance and distribution is sufficient to withstand current and future threats. In addition, populations have enough suitable habitat to continue expansion and movement between populations. The overall abundance and range-wide distribution of the species makes it resilient to losses that might occur from sea level rise or any other threats.
Read more here . . .
"Will My Project Affect Endangered or Threatened Species?"
Delmarva fox squirrel. USFWS photo.
The Chesapeake Bay Field Office reviews proposed projects in the Maryland, Delaware and Washington D.C. region for potential impacts to federally listed endangered and threatened species.
The first step is to see if any of these species occur near your project site. You will need to give us a project description, including the location on USGS map(s). We then provide a list of any federally listed species in the project area and potential impacts that must be considered. If there are no endangered species present, you do not need to consult further.
This can all be done through regular mail, but to expedite the process, use the online List Request!
Masonville: Successful Environmental Stewardship in Baltimore’s Backyard
A view of Baltimore's skyline from Masonville
Cove. Photo by Laurie Hewitt, USFWS
Through the Dredged Material Management Program, the Maryland Port Authority works with partners, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office to store material dredged from shipping channels to restore wildlife, create recreation areas, and provide environmental education opportunities.
Masonville is the newest dredged material placement site. Because the material placed at the site is transforming parts of the Patapsco River into land, the operations have triggered a variety of projects that balance the impact on the river.
The first stewardship project was the opening of the Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center in 2009. Today officials announced the opening of the second phase: the nature area.
Just a few years ago, the land was full of dangerous trash and debris and home to invasive plants. Now it is hosts cleaner soil, native trees and shrubs, and wetland plants. The nature area is now open for passive recreational use. People can come to Masonville and walk trails, dock your kayak or canoe, fish, or bird watch.
But there is more to come. Under a new Memorandum of Agreement, biologists will provide the Maryland Port Authority with expertise to plan for, enhance and manage the restored habitats and the wildlife that will colonize these new areas.
The Chesapeake Bay Field Office will also collaborate with the Maryland Port Authority, the Masonville Environmental Education Center and other stakeholders to enhance existing environmental education programs and pursue new ways to bring wildlife education to the students and citizens of the Baltimore area.
Free App for 11 National Wildlife Refuges in Chesapeake Bay Region
New App for Bay-area National Wildlife Refuges
With iPhones in hand, visitors to national wildlife refuges in the Chesapeake Bay region can now photograph and share their sightings with a worldwide community of wildlife watchers. The free National Wildlife Refuges Chesapeake Bay app is a new tool for exploring the outdoors and is available for download from the App Store. The app was developed through a partnership among the Chesapeake Conservancy and National Geographic Society with support from the Service.
For more information:
USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System
Video: Dan Ashe explains the new Chesapeake Bay Refuge App
Dam Removal Will Open Brook Trout Stream in Frederick County, Maryland
Clifford Branch dam before and during removal. Conor Bell, USFWS photo.
The Clifford Branch dam once provided drinking water for the City of Frederick. Now the city no longer needs it. But the dam still constricts and alters water levels and is a barrier to fish passage.
On September 11 2012, the task of removing the dam and restoring the stream began.
Removing the dam will open approximately 3 miles of habitat for brook trout, the only native trout in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and prized by fly fishers.
Although highly valued as a recreational fish, brook trout are also very significant biologically. Since require pristine, stable waterways, brook trout are indicators of good stream quality.
This restoration project will remove the dam, remove/replace the inlet structure and return the adjacent stream to a stable, self-maintaining state by the use of Natural Channel Design techniques.
Partners include the Potomac Conservancy, City of Frederick, Frederick County, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office. Funding for this project was provided by grants from FishAmerica Foundation and Chesapeake Bay Trust.
For more information contact:
Criterion Power Partners, LLC makes draft Habitat Conservation Plan available
Indiana bat. USFWS photo
On July 31, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish in the Federal Register a Notice of Availability of a draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) prepared by Criterion Power Partners, LLC., as part of an application for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act. The Notice also announces availability of the Service’s draft Environmental Assessment (EA).
Criterion is applying for an ITP for operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of 28 wind turbine generators located along the ridge of Backbone Mountain in Garrett County, Maryland. As part of the application process, Criterion has developed a Habitat Conservation Plan outlining measures to minimize and mitigate take of the federally listed Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis).
The Service is gathering public comment on the draft EA and HCP in order to finalize the EA and make a determination on Criterion’s application for an Incidental Take Permit.
The Service will accept written comments on the draft documents through October 1, 2012. After the comment period ends, the Service will determine if the application meets the permit issuance requirements.
Comments may be submitted through the following methods:
•Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting information on docket number FWS–R5–ES–2012–0032.
•U.S. mail or hand-delivery:
Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R5–ES–2012–0032; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, Virginia 22203.
Frequently asked questions
Documents available for public review
Bald Eagles Still Need Our Support!
Bald eagle. USFWS photo
The recovery of the bald eagle, our Nation's symbol, is an American success story. Though no longer protected under the Endangered Species Act, bald eagles remain protected under the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act). The Eagle Act prohibits anyone from taking or disturbing bald eagles and their nests. To help landowners, land managers and others avoid disturbing bald eagles, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines.
Mark Secrist and Ben Hutzell recognized for their flood recovery efforts in Vermont
Mark Secrist and Ben Hutzell receive awards for flood recovery efforts. USFWS photo.
On August 28, 2011, Hurricane Irene swept up the east coast, dumping as much as 10 inches of rain in some areas. Historic rainfall flooded streams and rivers, choking them with sediment and debris, destroying aquatic habitat and affecting geomorphic capacity.
The Service worked with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources to mobilize experts to assess the devastation. In October, 2011, Mark and Ben surveyed several streams in Vermont, and provided guidance and help to state and local partners for damage repair.
We are pleased to share the recognition that these employees have received for their hard work and dedication.
Restored Watts Branch is Model for America’s Great Outdoors Rivers Initiative
Watts Branch before, and after restoration. USFWS photo.
Once piped and concrete-lined, Watts Branch, a severely degraded stream in the Anacostia River watershed, is now a model for stream restoration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office, formed a partnership with District of Columbia’s Department of the Environment, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service worked together to stabilize the eroding banks, recreate a natural floodplain and create habitat for local fish, birds and other wildlife birds.
It’s all part of America’s Great Outdoors Rivers Initiative!
DOI America's Great Outdoors Rivers Initative press release
Schoolyard Habitats Earns Maryland School Green Ribbon Recognition
Dunloggin students try their hand at removing invasive plant species. Photo by Pamela Kidwell, Dunloggin Middle School.
Dunloggin Middle School in Howard County Maryland was one of 78 schools designated as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School. More than 350 schools applied for the Green Ribbon School recognition.
Honored schools create “green” environments through reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and ensuring a high-quality environmental and outdoor education to prepare students with skills and sustainability concepts needed for the future.
Green Ribbon School recognition is given to schools that show how they reduced their water use, reduced waste production and conserved energy. Dunloggin met all the energy criteria as well as well removed exotic plants, restored native habitat and created nature areas they use in their studies.
In 2008, heads of the science and gifted and talented programs at Dunloggin Middle School attended a Schoolyard Habitat Workshop conducted by Karen KellyMullin, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office. Initially, the school planned to plant a small native garden out, but after learning about watersheds and habitat, they decided to do more, a lot more.
With help from the Chesapeake Bay Field Office and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the school constructed a ½ mile nature trail, and created a riparian wetland to help reduce the runoff from the school to a nearby stream. The school received funding for their schoolyard habitat projects through a Chesapeake Bay Trust grant.
Read More . . .
International Journalists Tour Local River For Answers to Global Problems
Members of Earth Journalism Network prepare to tour Anacostia River in Washington, DC. USFWS photo.
On April 23, 2012, the Chesapeake Bay Field Office and several other partners hosted a pontoon boat tour of the Anacostia River in Washington D.C. The 11 international journalists, of the Earth Journalism Network, were eager to discover successful ways to protect and restore aquatic ecosystems.
Genevieve LaRouche, Supervisor of Chesapeake Bay Field Office welcomed the group with a short introduction to the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as its role in the Anacostia River watershed.
The Anacostia River watershed is one of seven locations selected for Urban Waters Federal Partnership. This partnership reconnects urban communities, particularly those that are overburdened or economically distressed, with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts to improve our Nation’s water systems and promote their economic, environmental and social benefits. Read more . . .
Online Tool Helps National Wildlife Refuges Plan for Effects of Sea Level Rise
Chincoteague NWR. Photo by Greg Nadel, USFWS
A growing body of evidence has linked accelerating climate change with observed changes in fish and wildlife, their populations, and their habitats in the United States. The unmistakable signs of a rapidly changing climate are everywhere – melting glaciers, heat waves, rising seas, flowers blooming earlier, lakes freezing later, migratory birds delaying their flights south. Along our coasts, rising sea levels have begun to affect fish and wildlife habitats, including those used by shorebirds and sea turtles that nest on our coastal National Wildlife Refuges.
The Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) is the “workhorse model” for sea-level rise planning on the Refuge System. SLAMM models the effects of inundation, erosion, overwash, saturation, and accretion under various scenarios, projecting habitat acreage at future points in time.
• Press Release
• SLAMM website (http://www.fws.gov/slamm/)
• Climate Change website (http://www.fws.gov/home/climatechange)
Discarded Christmas trees bring new life to Poplar Island
CBFO biologist Conor Bell moves trees to nesting site on Poplar Island. Chesapeake Bay Program photo.
Biologists are finding innovative ways to use Christmas trees to provide shelter and nesting areas for much of the Chesapeake's wildlife. After the holiday season, discarded trees were hauled on boats to Poplar Island, a 1,140-acre reconstructed island in the Chesapeake Bay, about a mile east of Tilghman Island.
Once a haven for wildlife, Poplar Island was eroding away. The Poplar Island Restoration Project, started in 1998, is restoring the island and 1,100 acres of wetland and upland habitat using dredged material from Baltimore’s shipping-channel. Currently, the island is quite flat with marshes but few shrubs or trees.
Strategically placed Christmas trees will provide both cover and nesting sites for colonial waterbirds such as common terns (Sterna hirundo) and least terns (Sterna antillarum). Debris piles placed in the newly created wetlands will hopefully be utilized by other bird, mammal and amphibian species.
A target species for the project is the American black duck (Anas rubripes). The black duck is one of North America’s wariest waterfowl. Small islands and isolated marshes are the last stronghold for American black ducks nesting in Chesapeake Bay. Only a few, small, nesting islands remain.
Watch the video
Agreement Cements Commitment to Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature
Children planting outdoors. USFWS photo.
Genevieve LaRouche, Supervisor of the Chesapeake Bay Field Office, represented the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s commitment to the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature. Established by Governor Martin O’Malley in 2008, the Partnership works to connect children and communities to nature through outdoor experiences and environmental education.
The Partnership, a coalition of federal, state and local agencies and organizations, reinforced their commitment to these goals through the formal signing of a Memorandum of Agreement. Partners agreed to make to take responsibility for ensuring that Maryland’s young people have the opportunity to connect with nature and grow to become informed and responsible stewards of our environment.
Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature
Nutria Confirmed in Delaware
Nutria siting area.
Following up on recent leads from a fur buyer, biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s APHIS Wildlife Services confirmed the presence of an invasive nutria population on a pond near the town of Marydel, Delaware. The destructive feeding habits of the nonnative rodent have resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of acres of marsh to erosion throughout the Chesapeake Bay.
The Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project seeks to eradicate the invasive nutria from the Delmarva Peninsula. It has been successful in eliminating nutria from heavily infested areas. The team is now turning its attention towards nutria that may have migrated into the headwaters of rivers and other parts of on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Read Delaware DENREC news release.
Coastal Grants Conserve Wildlife and Habitat in Maryland
Chicamacomico River wetlands, USFWS photo.
Coastal areas comprise less than 10 percent of the nation’s land area, yet they support a significant number of wildlife species, including 75 percent of migratory birds, nearly 80 percent of fish and shellfish and about half of all threatened and endangered species.
Coastal wetlands serve as some of nature’s most productive fish and wildlife habitat while providing storm protection, improved water quality, and abundant recreational opportunities for local communities.
Through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program almost 1,400 of coastal lands will be conserved or restored on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Where? Read on . . .
The Anacostia River: Restoring An Urban Watershed
Watts Branch, before,and after restoration. USFWS photos.
Home to 800,000 residents, 43 species of fish and more than 200 species of birds, the restoration of the Anacostia River is a priority project under the President’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP). Both initiatives seek to reconnect Americans to the great outdoors and revitalize urban waterways across the country.
The Watts Branch Stream Restoration is one of several projects doing this. The Chesapeake Bay Field Office (Service), District of Columbia Department of the Environment, and Natural Resources Conservation Service formed a partnership to restore 1.8 miles of Watts Branch, a severely degraded stream in the Anacostia River watershed.
Piped and concrete-lined storm drains altered the hydrology of Watts Branch, making it unstable and causing severe bank and bed erosion. In-stream structures were installed to improve in-channel habitat and reduce bank erosion. Floodplain creation will allow for the storage of floodwater; improve nutrient uptake, and increase channel stability. A riparian corridor of native grasses, shrubs, and trees will provide long-term bank stability and provide valuable streamside habitat for a host of species.
For more information, read about the project in our Fall E-Newsletter, On the Wild Side!
Group Aims to Rid the Delmarva Peninsula of Damaging Nutria
Nurtria. Photo by USDA
The Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project met on October 19, 2011 in Cambridge, Maryland to finalize their plan to eradicate nutria from the Delmarva Peninsula by December 2015.
Often described as an eating machine, the nutria is a semi-aquatic rodent introduced to this county from South America in the 1940's. Devouring up to 25 percent of its body weight in plants and roots per day, nutria have devastated wetlands in Maryland, Louisiana and other coastal states, turning them into barren mud flats. In Maryland alone, the cost to the state’s economy due to loss of wetlands in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge was estimated at $4 million dollars annually. Read more . . .
Working for bog turtles across Maryland
Threatened bog turtle. USFWS photo.
The Service has worked for 10 years with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Defense Fund and landowners to protect land and manage habitat for these northern bog turtles.
The turtles face loss, degradation and fragmentation of their homes from a variety of threats--wetland alteration, development, pollution, non-native plant invasion and advanced growth of plants. Fire and grazing historically maintained the open, young, bog-like wetlands required by this animal.
This partnership, known as the Maryland Bog Turtle Partnership, has conducted restoration at 27 sites on private lands and has permanently protected six sites through the Wetlands Reserve Program and two sites through the Maryland State Highway Administration. Read about how one landowner began restoring and enhancing the wetland on her property with the help of the Service.
National Wetland Losses Continue
A recently published report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicates an overall decrease in America’s wetlands, losses that threaten the health and safety of communities across the nation.
The report, which represents the most up-to-date, comprehensive assessment of wetland habitats in the United States, documents substantial losses in forested wetlands and coastal wetlands that serve as storm buffers, absorb pollution that would otherwise find its way into the nation’s drinking water, and provide vital habitat for fish, wildlife and plants.
The net wetland loss was estimated to be 62,300 acres between 2004 and 2009, bringing the nation’s total wetlands acreage to just over 110 million acres in the continental United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii.
The rate of gains from reestablishment of wetlands increased by 17 percent from the previous study period (1998 and 2004), but the wetland loss rate increased 140 percent during the same time period. As a consequence, national wetland losses have outpaced gains.
For more details on the report, visit,
Girl Scouts and Landowners Move Puritan Tiger Beetle Closer to Recovery
Map showing Puritan tiger beetle habitat (purplr/pink on left side). Click map for larger view. USFWS graphic.
Chesapeake Bay landowners will partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy to protect more than 450 acres of cliff and shoreline habitat through a $2.4 million federal grant for the threatened Puritan tiger beetle.
The grant, awarded through the national Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program, will be used by Maryland DNR to purchase permanent conservation easements on several properties on the Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County and on the Sassafras River in Cecil County. The easements will allow permanent protection of shoreline and cliff habitat.
One 230-acre property along the Sassafras River belongs to the Girl Scouts at Camp Grove Neck, who for many years have acted as caretakers for the Puritan tiger beetle population there. Thousands of girls have received hands-on education regarding the life history and importance of the Puritan tiger beetle and other Chesapeake Bay wildlife.
Permanent protection of these lands will help meet one of the criteria required for recovery of this species—to stabilize six large sub-populations and their habitats in the Chesapeake Bay. Three sub-populations are already protected by the state of Maryland.
Poplar Island: the Power of Collaboration
USFWS biologist Peter McGowan replaces a rescued ospey chick into the nest. Photo by Leo Miranda, USFWS.
Members of various Department of Interior agencies and other Chesapeake Bay partners toured Poplar Island to see how coordination among federal, state and non governmental entities is working to restore Chesapeake Bay habitat.
Participants also got an extra treat. On the way to Poplar Island, Chesapeake Bay Field Office staff had to stop to complete a mission. A young osprey, rescued the day before, was placed into a new nest so that surrogate parents can care for it until it is ready to leave on its own.
Poplar Island Ecological Restoration Project uses Material dredged from shipping channels is being used to restore the island and create shallow water habitat for bay grasses, crabs and fish and marsh and upland habitat for colonial nesting birds, shorebirds waterfowl as well as homes for small mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
Department of Interior Deputy Assistant Secretaries Eileen Sobeck, Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Lori Caramanian, Water and Science, U.S. Geological Survey Regional Executive Dave Russ, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Assistant Director, Fisheries and Habitat Conservation Bryan Arroyo and partners from the Baltimore Port Administration, U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland Port Administration, Maryland Environmental Service and Ducks Unlimited were there to see, first hand, the productive and vibrant wetlands.
NiSource makes draft Habitat Conservation Plan available
On July 13, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published in the Federal Register a Notice of Availability of a draft Habitat Conservation Plan prepared by NiSource Inc., a natural gas distribution company, as part of application for an Incidental Take Permit under the Endangered Species Act. The Notice also announces availability of the Service’s draft Environmental Impact Statement
NiSource is applying for an ITP for operation and maintenance of its natural gas pipelines and associated facilities in 14 states: Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. As part of the application process, NiSource has developed a Habitat Conservation Plan outlining measures to minimize and mitigate take for 10 federally endangered, threatened or proposed species. In addition, the HCP provides measures to avoid take of another 33 federally threatened, endangered or candidate species.
The Service is gathering public comment on the draft EIS and HCP in order to finalize the EIS and make a determination on NiSource’s application for an Incidental Take Permit. During the comment period, three public meetings will be held in three states:
August 16, 2011, 7:00 p.m.
University Plaza Hotel and Conference Center
3110 Olentangy River Road,
Columbus, OH 43202
August 17, 2011, 7:00 p.m.
Ramada Conference Center
2143 N. Broadway,
Lexington, KY 40505
August 18, 2011, 7:00 pm
Charleston Ramada Plaz
400 2nd Ave.
S. Charleston, WV 25303.
Send written comments via U.S. mail to the Regional Director, Midwest Region, Attn: Lisa Mandell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437-1458, or by electronic mail to permitsR3ES@fws.gov. The comment period closes October 11, 2011.
More information about the EIS and HCP, along with locations, dates, and times of specific public meetings can be found at: www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/permits/hcp/nisource/index.html.
Review Finds Endangered Species Protection May Be Warranted for Two Bat Species
Eastern small-footed bat (myotis leibeii) with white-nose syndrome. Photo by Ryan von Linden/NYDEC
The Service is a conducting a staus review of the eastern small-footed bat (Myotis leibii) and the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) to determine if either or both species should be listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Service is asking for scientific and commercial data and other information regarding these species.
For additional resources and links to the press release, Federal Register Notice, photos, FAQs and media contacts, go to the Service's White-Nose Syndrome page.
The Service is particularly looking for information on distribution, status, population size or trends; life history; and threats to these species. Information may be submitted using one of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. [FWS–R5–ES–2011–0024]. or fill out and print this letter, sending it by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. [FWS–R5–ES–2011–0024]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
Federal Agencies Partner to Revitalize Urban Waterways In Communities Across the U.S.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar chats with an area student during a June 24 event along the Patapsco River in Baltimore. Photo by Pablo Miranda
BALTIMORE– A new federal partnership aims to stimulate regional and local economies, create local jobs, improve quality of life, and protect Americans’ health by revitalizing urban waterways in under-served communities across the country. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP), an innovative federal union comprised of 11 agencies, will focus its initial efforts on seven pilot locations: the Patapsco Watershed (Maryland), the Anacostia Watershed (Washington DC/Maryland), the Bronx & Harlem River Watersheds (New York), the South Platte River in Denver (Colorado), the Los Angeles River Watershed (California), the Lake Pontchartrain Area (New Orleans, La.), and the Northwest Indiana Area. Each of the pilot locations already has a strong restoration effort underway, spearheaded by local governments and community organizations. Lessons learned from these pilot locations will be transferred to other cities in the country.
Read the entire press release . . .
Also, read more information about the Urban Waters Federal Parnership in the Anacostia and Patapsco Rivers, and Watts Branch in the District of Columbia.
Native Plant Center for the Chesapeake Region Now Available Online!
Native Plant Center - Find your native plants here!
A new tool to help citizens in the Chesapeake Bay watershed select native plants is now available through the Internet. Users of the portal, www.nativeplantcenter.net can search for native plants by name, plant type, sun exposure, soil texture and moisture, and even find native plants with the same shape, color, size or other characteristics as some of their favorite non-native plants.
The site also includes a geo-locator feature to identify plants suited to a user’s specific location.
The Native Plant Center uses the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s native plant database, associated with its publication, Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Replacing portions of lawn areas and typical landscapes with native plants that suit local conditions reduces or eliminates the need for fertilizers and pesticides which wash into our streams, rivers and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. Once in our waterways, these pollutants fuel the growth of excess algae, which clouds the water and threatens the health of fish, crabs and the entire Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. An online network for interacting with other Chesapeake Bay stewards is planned.
The Native Plant Center Chesapeake Region is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and Image Matters LLC.
Also, read about the next phases, and the current press release.
Experts Select Representative Species to Guide Conservation in the Mid-Atlantic
Participants engage in discussions during Representative Species Workshop in Annapolis. USFWS photo.
Species and habitat experts gathered at the Chesapeake Bay Field Office on June 1, 2011 to review the "representative species" identified to guide and design landscape-scale conservation efforts in the Mid-Atlantic area. The Mid-Atlantic is one subregions of the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative.
Representative species are those whose habitat needs, ecosystem function, or management responses are similar to a group of other species. By basing conservation actions on representative species, the needs of other species in that group will also be addressed.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Representative Species Team and the University of Massachusetts completed the first phases of the representative species process including: relating species to habitat types in the Mid-Atlantic subregion; clustering or grouping the species and habitats; and identifying species that may best represent those draft groups.
Over 50 Service staff have already provided input and expertise into the process, science and criteria for identifying representative specie. Biologists, Representative Species Steering Committee members, partners, and wildlife species and habitat experts attending the workshop used specific criteria to select the best set of representative species for this subregion.
The representative species list can modified to adapt to future conditions, needs, or new information from partners and experts. Conservation planning with representative species provides a better understanding of likely results in the face of land use and climate change, and supports strategic conservation decisions.
Five Peregrine falcon hatchlings!
Five brand new hatchlings on the Wilmington Peregrine falcon webcam.
Mother brings in dinner. Photo: Delmarva Ornithological Society.
In 2010, CBFO biologist Craig Koppie gave professional advice to the hosts and viewers of the Wilmington Peregrine Falcon Cam.
Now it’s 2011 and time for a new breeding season. During February, viewers saw more frequent visits by the adult Peregrines to the nest box. More courtship and pair-bonding displays were seen, followed by egg-laying and incubation with a successful hatch of five chicks!
You can view the birds through the live Falcon Cam web feed at Delmarva Ornithological Society website,
The chicks have been getting a varied diet of mourning dove, yellow-billed cuckoo, gray catbird, brown-headed cowbird, black-billed cuckoo and blue jay.
Caution: This is an addictive activity. You'lll find it difficult to stop.
New Schoolyard Habitat Guide Now Available
New Schoolyard Habitat Guide.
Teachers and Educators – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Schoolyard Habitat Program is proud to announce the availability of the brand new Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide.
This is your roadmap for transforming your school grounds into a destination that will engage the entire school community in habitat restoration. Once you use this how-to guide, your school community will connect to the natural world, not by sitting inside and looking out, but instead by being outside and looking deeper.
This simple guide will take you and your students through each step of the process: planning, installing and sustaining a project. This is not a book about why schoolyard projects are important; but a guide on how to make the best one suited for your site.
Updated Online Tool Provides Site Specific Sea Level Rise Simulations
Homes sitting at the edge of rising sea levels. Photo by Steve Hildebrand.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that a new version of an online sea level rise simulation tool will be released to the public at NOAA's Coastal GeoTools conference March 21 - 24, 2011. The updated Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM-View 2.0) is a web browser-based application that displays map pairs of the same area, each at different sea levels.
Sea level rise is one of the most pressing issues facing many coastal communities today. The strength of this tool is its ability to visually show sea level rise predictions, allowing people to see the impacts in a more intuitive way. SLAMM is used by researchers and managers to understand the impacts of sea level rise on critical coastal resources and educate the public on the effects of sea level changes.
Read more . . .
Stream Restoration Kicks Offs in Washington D.C.
CBFO biologists watch as construction begins on Watts Branch restoration project. USFWS photo.
The Chesapeake Bay Field Office and participating District partners came together to celebrate the beginning of the Watts Branch stream restoration project in Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Anacostia Riverkeeper Dottie Yunger, and dozens of local organizations, D.C. government agencies, and federal agencies were at the site which, when completed in this fall, will enhance the city's fish and wildlife resources and increase the quality of the water flowing through Watt's Branch into the Anacostia River and, eventually, into the Chesapeake Bay.
Watts Branch currently lacks suitable riffle and pool habitat for much of the aquatic wildlife, and has significant bank erosion occurring throughout the proposed 1.8-mile restoration area. The design uses a natural channel approach to improve riffle and pool habitat and to reduce bank erosion. Planting of native grasses, shrubs, and trees will stabilize the stream banks, further reducing erosion. Some of the wildife that will benefit from the stream restoration include fish like the alewife, American eel, and American shad and birds like the Kentucky warbler, wood thrush, red-eyed vireo, Cooper's hawk, great blue heron, American black duck, wood duck, and mallard.
Read more . . .
Delmarva Fox Squirrel Population Improving; Status Review Underway
A 2007 review of the federally threatened Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus
) by the U.S. Fish and wildlife Service found that the population had improved and the species was near recovery.
However, information about timber harvest raised concerns in some portions of the Delmarva fox squirrels' range. The conclusion of the 2007 review was that Delmarva fox squirrel's status should be considered threatened until more information about timber harvest and availability of mature forest could be obtained.
Read the press release on the Delmarva fox squirrel page.
Coopers hawk safely captured in the Library of Congress
Kennon Smith (Raptor bander), Linda Moore (The Raptor Conservancy of Virginia) and Craig Koppie (USFWS). Photo by Abby Brack, Library of Congress
A juvenile Coopers hawk that had been flying around the Library of Congress rotunda for a week was safely captured January 26.
Experts used a pair of starlings to lure the emaciated hawk into a trap and it was then taken to the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia for rehabilitation.
Additional information on the Coopers hawk and videos of news coverage can be found on the Coopers hawk page.
Chesapeake Bay Cliffs Crucial for Threatened Puritan Tiger Beetle
An eroding cliff on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Leo Miranda.
Puritan tiger beetles (Cicindela puritana) occur only at a few small sites along the Connecticut River in New England and the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Puritan tiger beetles undergo their entire life cycle on or near cliffs and adjacent sandy beaches, and require some cliff erosion to maintain suitable unvegetated habitat conditions.
Puritan tiger beetles have disappeared from much of their New England range and have declined in their Chesapeake Bay range. They were listed under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species in August 1990.
Development and stabilization projects are the most serious threats in Maryland. Shoreline stabilization structures are designed to minimize erosion at the base of the bluff. Over time, slopes stabilized in this manner become less steep and vegetated, making them unsuitable for habitat.
Several homes in a community in Maryland are situated very close to eroding cliffs which are habitat for the federally listed Puritan tiger beetle. The community is looking for ways to reduce this erosion. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in close coordination with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, other state and local agencies as well as the communities, is exploring a variety of solutions that protect both the Puritan tiger beetle habitat and the community.
For more information see:
Puritan Tiger Beetle Fact Sheet
Reports and Publication
Federal Agencies Launch New Strategy for the Chesapeake
Brook trout. USFWS image.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Federal agency partners have released a new strategy to protect and restore the 64,000 square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed. The agencies will work closely with communities to implement the actions in the strategy, including conserving 2 million acres of undeveloped land and protecting and restoring habitat for key species such as oysters, black ducks, and brook trout. The agencies will be accountable to achieve specific milestones every two years to ensure measurable progress.
Read the strategy (http://executiveorder.chesapeakebay.net)
Collaborative Solutions to Wildlife Management
On Tuesday, April 27, 2010, the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife (Cardin) held an oversight hearing on three Service programs, the Coastal Program, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, and Candidate Conservation within the Endangered Species Program, that allow the Service to work collaboratively with federal, state, and local/private entities to conserve wildlife and habitat. Gary Frazer, the Assistant Director for Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, testified before the Subcommittee.
Mr. Frazer described the three innovative Service programs, pointing out that the Coastal program’s “boots on the ground” approach is one of its greatest strengths and highlighted some of the accomplishments the program has made including a recent success at the Hail Cove Living Shoreline Project at the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. He also highlighted the Schoolyard Habitat project within the Partners for Wildlife and Program and several of the tools available to landowners for conserving fish and wildlife and their habitats.
The hearing was chaired by Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and attended by Ranking Member Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Senator Cardin’s opening statement was complimentary of the Service’s efforts in conserving migratory birds, fish, and wildlife, particularly in coastal areas of Maryland.
Ranking Member Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) gave the opening statement for the minority, indicating his strong support for the Partners program, but voiced his concern for funding that is diverted. He specifically addressed the Partners program receiving an increase of $2 million for climate change in the fiscal year 2011 budget. Senator Whitehouse countered by explaining how Rhode Island is made particularly vulnerable by the “climate change double whammy” in which it is hit terrestrially as well as by sea level rise on the coast and detailed how vital the coastal program is in light of this vulnerability.
Links to testimony are available at: U.S. Senate Committe on Environment and Public Works.
Chesapeake Bay Field Office Hosts Chinese Conservation Delegation
Sherry Krest shows deformed frogs to Chinese delegation. Photo by Laurie Hewitt, USFWS
Environmental professionals from China’s Guangdong Province Forestry Ministry visited the Chesapeake Bay Field Office, organized by the Service’s Division of International Conservation. An open forum provided the backdrop for the exchange of information in the field of fish and wildlife conservation, management and natural area protection.
Chesapeake Bay Field Office staff highlighted some of the tools and techniques used to protect lands, restore steams, wetlands and other critical habitats, protect endangered species and provide fish passage which the delegation found very useful for their goals.
"I was very impressed by the scientific robustness of the presentations by the Chesapeake Bay Field Office, commented Bryan Arroyo, Assistant Director Fisheries and Habitat Conservation. “The Field Office and Fisheries staff provided great presentations and our guests were most impressed with their professionalism and technical capacity."
Situated in the southernmost part of mainland China, the hills and mountains of the Guangdong Province had been covered by forests. In 1985, a "green revolution" began and all the forestless mountains had been afforested, through the work of the Guangdong Province Forestry Ministry. Today this work continues with sustainable the multi-purpose forestry and natural resource management.
This visit is part of a larger effort by the Service known as the China Program where wildlife managers from both countries exchange information and specialists to address wildlife trade issues, and wetlands, river, and floodplain management.
This was the Chinese group’s second visit to the Chesapeake Bay area in recent years. In May of 2009, the Chesapeake Bay Field Office hosted a Chinese delegation which learned about and then toured the protected and restored habitats around the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
In September 2009 the Guangdong Province Forestry Ministry co-hosted a group of Service specialists including, Chesapeake Bay Field Office Supervisor Leopoldo Miranda, to learn about China’s wetland restoration and management programs.
"I think that this kind of international exchange and information sharing helps us see different approaches and learn new ways of protecting and managing our fish and wildlife resources,” concluded Leopoldo Miranda, Supervisor Chesapeake Bay Field Office.
To see more about:
The Guongdong Province, visit: www.gdf.gov.cn/english
The China Program, visit: www.fws.gov/international/DIC/regional%20programs/china/china.html
Coastal Program Conservation Partnerships Awarded National Coastal Wetlands Grants
Cedar Island. Photo by Dan Murphy
Two 2010 National Coastal Wetlands Grants (NCWG) have been awarded to conservation partnerships led by the Chesapeake Bay Field Office (CBFO) Coastal Program. A total of 570 acres of Delmarva Peninsula wetlands and forests will be protected using $1,072,610 in NCWG funds leveraged by a combination of State funds and landowner contributions totaling $1,116,390.
Cedar Island Coastal Wetland Protection - The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) was awarded $207,760 to acquire 200 acres in Somerset County, including 192 acres of estuarine salt marsh located on Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds on the Chesapeake Bay. These funds will leverage $216,240 of non-Federal cost share. This parcel will be incorporated into the adjacent 3,000-acre Cedar Island Wildlife Management Area, completing the protection of the entire island. Located in the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture's Tangier Sound and Bay Islands sub-focus area, Pocomoke Sound and Cedar Island support some of the best remaining beds of submerged aquatic vegetation in Maryland and are considered to be important for breeding black duck. Partners in the project include the USFWS CBFO Coastal Program and the Lower Shore Land Trust.
South Point Property and Croppers Island Conservation Easements
- The MDNR was awarded $864,850 to acquire conservation easements on the 160-acre South Point property and the 210-acre Croppers Island property in Worcester County along Ayers Creek and Newport Bay. These funds will leverage $900,150 in non-Federal cost share. Both properties are located within the 153,000-acre Maryland Atlantic Coastal Bays watershed. The acquisitions will protect 1.5 miles of shoreline on Newport Bay, 163 acres of estuarine intertidal and palustrine forested coastal wetlands, 92 acres of native coastal plain forest, habitat for breeding and wintering waterfowl, breeding habitat for water birds and shorebirds, and stop-over habitat for migrating birds. Twenty-four acres of wetlands will be restored through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. Partners in the project include the USFWS CBFO Coastal Program, the Lower Shore Land Trust, Worcester County, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Waterbirds and Offshore Wind Energy Development
Interactions, Studies, Monitoring, and Mitigation
Northern Gannets. Photo by Michael Haferkamp
There is a great push for offshore wind energy along the East Coast states, especially over the shoals. These shoals are also important feeding and migration areas for many marine birds. Over 72 species of birds use these areas for some part of their life cycle. Doug Forsell, Coastal Program biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office, examines offshore wind energy, the possible effects on marine birds, methods for studying and monitoring marine birds, their behavior and habitats, and possible mitigation for offshore wind energy.
To view the entire seminar, go to:
Login as a participant using your name (no password) Run Setup Wizard on website if you are a first-time user of the system
Living Shoreline Protects Fragile Eastern Neck Habitat
CBFO biologist Mitch Keiler plants bay grass with local children. Photo by Jennifer Greiner
The Hail Cove Living Shoreline Project, at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Kent County, Maryland, demonstrates an alternative to traditional shoreline protection revetment practices that nearly eliminate important shallow water habitat.
Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,286-acre stopover area for migratory and wintering waterfowl at the mouth of the Chester River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Within Eastern Neck is Hail Cove
which separates the Chester River and Hail Creek. Hail Cove is regarded as one of the five best waterfowl habitats in Maryland.
Aerial surveys over the past 10 years revealed the importance of protecting Hail Creek from damaging erosion due to prevailing winds. Protecting Hail Cove will preserve submerged aquatic vegetation that is so critical to migratory waterfowl. The living shoreline will also reduce shore erosion and create marsh and reef habitat for Chesapeake Bay wildlife such as blue crabs, diamondback terrapins, fish, oysters and mussels.
On August 12, 2009, President Obama signed an executive order, Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration that calls on the federal government to lead the effort to control pollution that flows into the Chesapeake Bay and protect wildlife habitats in the region.
It directs federal agencies to work with State and local government as well as the private sector and use their expertise to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Hail Cove shows how this collaboration can work to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay.
The Hail Cove project represents a collaborative effort between government agencies, non-profit organizations and the private sector to protect and enhance valuable resources. The work at the site is focused on the protection of these important resources for years to come. For much more information visit our Hail Cove page.
For more information contact:
Dan Murphy, CBFO biologist. VOA photo
Voice Of America Highlights Nutria Efforts
Voice of America recently followed Chesapeake Bay Field Office and USDA biologists as they assessed the successful nutria eradication program on Maryland's eastern shore.
Nutria were introduced from South America in the 1930s to bolster Maryland's fur industry. This aquatic rodent uses marsh plants to create resting platforms as well as eats these plants, creating huge mud flats. The voracious nutria has been responsible for wetland loss in many areas on lower eastern shore marshes, especially Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
Aerial photos from 1938 to present show an alarming loss of marsh, escalating over the past two decades, coinciding with nutria population explosion.
In 1995, a partnership between 24 federal and state agencies, private organizations, businesses and landowners was formed to stop nutria damage.
Watch the Voice of America video, or read the article to learn more.
Eagle chick found in the new nest. Photo by Craig Koppie, USFWS
Eagles Removed From Airport Doing Well
Back in February 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with officials of the Airport Management Authority and the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), determined that a bald eagle pair nesting along an active runway at Glenn Martin State Airport, near the town of Essex MD could be a hazard to airport safety.
With assistance from Airport Operations, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the eagle nest from a tree located near the active runway fearing a potential mid-air collision with local aircraft.
The pair had just begun to lay eggs that week. However, because it was still early in the nesting season, biologists expected the bald eagle pair would have time to construct a new nest or would relocate to an alternate nest location.
Two weeks after the disturbance, Chesapeake Bay Field Office biologist Craig Koppie, checked the pair’s old nest located closer to the Frog Mortar Creek. The adult female was standing on the nest which was a good indicator she was planning to re-use their old nest site. On July 7th, he revisited the nest tree and found she had produced two eaglets which look to be about 8-9 weeks old! The young will probably take their first flights when they reach 11 weeks of age. Most all other eaglets in the Chesapeake Bay have fledged by now.
Al Rizzo of CBFO wins Wetland Warrior award from
Delaware Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
Delaware Presents 2009 Wetland Warrior Award to CBFO Partners for Fish and Wildlife Coordinator
July 30, 2009
Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara presented Al Rizzo, soil scientist and Partners for Fish and Wildlife Coordinator for Delaware and Maryland, with the 2009 The Wetland Warrior Award. The award is presented to an individual or group in recognition of exemplary efforts that benefit wetlands through education and outreach, monitoring and assessment, or restoration and protection.
Read more about the achievements that made Al a Wetland Warrior.
Also, read the press release from the state of Delaware.
Box turtle. Photo by Frank Marsden
Excellent Schoolyard Habitats Share These Qualities!
Schoolyard habitats are naturalized areas on school grounds accessible to the entire school community. Excellent schoolyard habitats improve community health by reducing storm water runoff, solving erosion and increasing biodiversity. They also provide opportunities for children to interact with the natural world. To help guide the creation of excellent schoolyard habitats the Maryland Schoolyard Habitat Partnership developed “Common Qualities of Excellent Schoolyard Habitat.”
Or, read the press release....
Chesapeake Bay Welcomes Natural Resource Officials from China
On May 8, eleven Chinese natural resources officials visited the Chesapeake Bay Field Office. Their goal was to gain a better understanding of the wetland laws and policies, how we use these laws to benefit wetlands and how we monitor wetland restoration. This visit was facilitated under U.S. – People’s Republic of China (PRC) Protocol on Cooperation and Exchanges in the Field of Conservation of Nature, signed in 1986.
Find out where they went and what they did . . .
A new tool to view sea-level rise simulations is available
Migratory birds nesting habitats could be affected by sea-level rise. Credit: Leopoldo Miranda / USFWS
As the globe warms and polar ice caps melt, sea levels rise, causing the flooding of coastal marshes, important for wintering mallard ducks, and eroding coastal beaches, vital as refueling stops for migrating song birds.
To plan for sea-level rise, the National Wildlife Refuge System uses various models to understand how advancing seas will affect coastal marshes, tidal flats, beaches and swamps. Among these models, the workhorse is SLAMM – Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model – which has been used extensively since 2006. Similar to a weather forecast, SLAMM is a useful tool to forecast habitat transformations as sea levels rise.
Visit our SLAMM-view page to find out more, and see how sea-level rise will affect your community.
Scientists Discover Intersex Fish More Widespread
Smallmouth bass. Illustration by Timothy Knepp, USFWS.
Annapolis, Maryland - A recent study of intersex abnormalities in fish conducted by researchers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey in the Potomac River watershed showed that at least 82 percent of male smallmouth bass and in 23 percent of the largemouth bass had immature female germ cells (oocytes) in their reproductive organs.
This condition, a type of intersex, is a disturbance in the fish’s hormonal system and is an indicator of exposure to estrogens or chemicals that mimic the activity of natural hormones. Several other abnormalities were also noted, some affecting female bass.
“At the moment we don’t know the ecological implications of this condition and it could potentially affect the reproductive capability of important sport fish species in the watershed,” said Leopoldo Miranda, Supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office.
For more information . .
New Report Shows Annual Loss of 59,000 Acres of Wetlands in Coastal Watersheds
While the nation as a whole gained wetlands from 1998 to 2004, a new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration documents a continuing loss of vital wetlands in coastal watersheds of the eastern United States.
The new report, Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Eastern United States, shows an annual loss of 59,000 acres of wetlands in coastal watersheds of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Great Lakes from 1998 to 2004.
Coastal wetlands are the nurseries for important commercial and recreational fish and are vital to many threatened and endangered species. They also provide natural protection for coastal areas from the most damaging effects of hurricanes and storm surges.
Through programs like Partners for Fish and Wildlife and the Coastal program, the Chesapeake Bay Field Office is restoring a variety of coastal habitats. One such project, restored 450 acres of salt marsh by plugging mosquito grid ditches at E.A.Vaughn Wildlife Management Area (WMA), located in Worcester County in the Maryland Coastal Bays region.
Read more about this exciting project . . .
The Department of Interior Supports Native Oyster Restoration
Photo by Julie Slacum, USFWS
The decrease in the native Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) in the Chesapeake Bay can be attributed to three major factors: over-harvesting, disease, and habitat loss. Due to the decrease in native oysters, the states of Maryland and Virginia proposed the introduction of a non-native species of oyster (Crassostrea ariakensis) into the Chesapeake Bay.
In response to this proposal, the U.S. Congress directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). A series of alternatives to this introduction were proposed ranging from taking no action at all, to introducing the non-native oysters and discontinuing native oyster restoration.
The Department of the Interior has reviewed the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (DPEIS) for Oyster Restoration in the Chesapeake Bay, Including the Use of a Native and/or Non-native Oysters and provided the following summary comments:
The Department remains concerned that if the preferred alternative in the final EIS includes the use non-native Suminoe oyster it is unlikely that the goal to restore the ecological and economic function of the Native oyster could be achieved. In addition, use of non-native Suminoe oyster alternatives will permanently interfere with restoration efforts using the native Eastern Oyster.
The Department believes that the best strategies for restoring the function of native Eastern oysters are to use a combination of native Eastern oyster alternatives identified in the PEIS. This combination includes expanding oyster restoration using native Eastern oysters, expanding native Eastern oyster cultivation in aquaculture in both Virginia and Maryland, and expansion of native Eastern oyster sanctuaries, coupled with greater enforcement of sustainable harvest limits.
A PDF copy of the letter is available here.
CBFO's Field Supervisor responds to the Washington Post article "Oyster Decision Could Alter the Bay" (2/15/09).
Restoring the Resources
Restored wetland along the Mispillion River in Delaware
Along the Mispillion River in Kent County, Delaware, an eroded, degraded marsh has been transformed into vital habitat for local wildlife. The 56-acre private site consists of one of the river’s original meanders and associated wetland with more than 2,000 feet of river frontage. On October 2, representatives from the public-private partnership that made the project possible gathered to celebrate its success with a tour of the site.
This restoration, which was completed in June, is a Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) project for the DuPont Newport Superfund Site located in Wilmington, Delaware. The Trustees, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (US FWS), were authorized to recover damages to trust resources associated with a release of a hazardous waste at the NewPort site. Read more . . .
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