Environmental Contaminants Program
U S Fish and Wildlife Service

Featured Topics:

 

Avian Influenza Information


Featured Publications:
Cover of 2007 summer issue of Tideline a quarterly bulletin published by the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex
"Mercury Contamination in Waterbirds Breeding in San Francisco Bay" (pdf) from the summer issue of Tideline, a quarterly bulletin published by the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
thumbnail image of invasive species article from endangered species bulletin
"The Environmental Contaminants Program" (pdf)
from the March 2007 issue of the Endangered Species Bulletin.

Picture of mining operations in Coeur d'Alene Basin

"Bridging the Gap" (640KB pdf)
from the Winter 2007 issue of the Fish & Wildlife News.


thumbnail image of Refuge Article

"What's Happening to the Mysterious Mercury?" (pdf)
from the July/August 2006 issue of the Refuge Update Bulletin.


thumbnail image of Endangered species bulletin article on pollinators
"The Conservation of Pollinating Species" (pdf)
from the July 2006 issue of the Endangered Species Bulletin.

 

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Arlington, Virginia 22203
703-358-2148

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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service home page

 


Workshop – Joining the National Discussion on Nutrient Problems

Photo of hydrologist, Josh Eash, writing information on a white board while other scientists look on.
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Hydrologist Josh Eash from the Region 3 Regional Office lists ideas from Contaminants Biologists Dave Mosby and Scott Hamilton from the Columbia, MO Ecological Services Field Office for resource management tools and actions to mitigate nutrient pollution in the Midwest. Credit: Mike Coffey/USFWS
Thursday, September 29, 2011

Managers and specialists from the National Wildlife Refuge System, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Endangered Species Program, and the Environmental Contaminants Program met in Illinois to discuss nutrient enrichment problems and solutions for trust natural resources.

 Learn More

$36.8 Million Natural Resource Damages Settlement to Restore Natural Resources and Improve Recreational Opportunities in Areas Affected by Cosco Busan Oil Spill

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San Francisco - Oil booms line a San Francisco, California, beach. November 9, 2007. The beach was closed after oil spilled when acontainer ship struck a tower supporting the San Francsico-Oakland Bay Bridge. Credit: Desmond Thorsson/U.S. Coast Guard Auxillary.
September 19, 2011

State and federal trustee agencies will use most of the funds from a $36.8 million settlement of natural resource damages to restore natural resources injured by the Nov. 7, 2007 oil spill in the San Francisco Bay and improve Bay Area recreational opportunities impacted by the spill. The funds are part of a $44.4 million settlement with Regal Stone Limited and Fleet Management Limited, the companies responsible for the container ship Cosco Busan that spilled 53,000 gallons of oil into the bay after hitting the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

More information

SF Gate — $44 million settles Cosco Busan oil spill in bay

KQED (NPR) audio segment on Cosco Busan settlement


Federal funds will continue restoring Massachusetts harbor

Heavily-oiled Canada geese. USFWS photo
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Roseate terns nest in shelters on Bird Island in Buzzards Bay. Credit: Susi von Oettingen/USFWS
Wednesday, July 13, 2011

About $6.5 million from a natural resource damage settlement will fund six projects in New Bedford, Mass. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recently announced the selection of projects that include creating a public river walk, protecting Acushnet land, monitoring roseate and common terns in Buzzards Bay, and restoring Palmer’s Island, the former Acushnet sawmill property and the Round Hill salt marsh in Dartmouth. The funds represent the last installment from the $20-million settlement reached in 1991 for the discharge of wastes into the harbor from the 1940s to the 1970s.

South Coast Today — New Bedford gets its share of harbor money

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Region


Idaho Settlement Resolves One of the Largest Superfund Cases Ever Filed

Heavily-oiled Canada geese. USFWS photo
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1993 Photo of the Bunker HIll Superfund Site in the Coeur d'Alene Basin. The majority of the settlement funds will be dedicated to restoration and remediation at Bunker Hill. Photo credit: USFWS/Dan Audet
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A settlement has been reached with Hecla Mining Company to resolve one of the largest cases ever filed under the Superfund statute.  Under the settlement, Hecla will pay $263.4 million plus interest to the United States, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the state of Idaho to resolve claims stemming from releases of wastes from its mining operations.

The settlement brings in new funding for important cleanup to restore critical fish and wildlife habitat in the Coeur d’Alene River Basin. Although many measurable improvements in people’s and environmental health have taken place over the years, the contamination is widespread and much more cleanup is needed. The settlement also includes a process for coordinating Hecla’s future mining operations with cleanup activities in the Coeur d’Alene Basin. Cleanup and mining can now move forward together in the Silver Valley. This will help establish a stronger future: one built on mining stewardship, a healthier environment, and a growing, vibrant economy.

Learn more in this full press release

The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.  A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html

Archived Features

Deepwater Horizon-related archived features


Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Cases in Northeast Highlighted

Image of marsh before restoration. USFWS photo. Image of marsh after restoration. USFWS photo.

Photos before and after restoration along Delaware's Mispillion River. A cooperative settlement in the Dupont Newport Superfund site NRDAR case funded the use of natural materials to protect more than 2,000 feet of eroding shoreline. Credit: USFWS

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Northeast Region is commemorating the Deepwater Horizon oil spill anniversary by highlighting restoration on contaminated sites across 13 states through an interactive map featured on the new regional Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program (NRDAR) website.

MAP of Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Recovery Cases - Northeast Region

Northeast Region NRDAR website


Contaminants Program Sparks Conversation with Facebook Page

Environmental Quality profile picture of brown pelican flying over marshland.
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December 15, 2010

The USFWS, lead by the Environmental Contaminants Program, is the main federal agency dedicated to protecting wildlife and their habitat from pollution's harmful effects, helping to create a healthy world for all living things.

Follow our efforts to protect our treasured wildlife on the new Environmental Quality Facebook page.

 

Federal, State Natural Resource Agencies Receive $27.5 Million

Heavily-oiled Canada geese. USFWS photo
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Heavily-oiled Canada geese. USFWS photo

November 16, 2010

Federal and state agencies have received $27.5 million to restore conditions for fish, birds, sensitive habitats, wildlife and recreational use of the Delaware River areas impacted in 2004 by an oil spill from the vessel Athos I. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware collectively have received the funds from the U.S. Coast Guard Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for nine restoration projects.

The projects will include:

  • Freshwater tidal wetlands restoration at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge (Pennsylvania)
  • Creation of oyster reefs (New Jersey, Delaware)
  • Darby Creek dam removal and stream habitat restoration (Pennsylvania)
  • Habitat restoration (marsh, grassland, and meadow) at Mad Horse Creek Wildlife Management Area (New Jersey)
  • Shoreline restoration at Lardner’s Point (Pennsylvania)
  • Blackbird Reserve Wildlife Area habitat restoration (pond and pasture enhancement) (Delaware)
  • Improving the Stow Creek boat ramp (New Jersey)
  • Installation of a rock jetty at Augustine Boat Ramp to address ongoing shoaling immediately offshore of the boat ramp (Delaware)
  • Enhancing the recreational trail on Little Tinicum Island (Pennsylvania)

Chesapeake Bay Field Office - On the Wild Side: Athos 1 Oil Spill

NOAA Northeast Region - Case Study: Athos Spill

 

First Restoration Project Completed at Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee

Cerulean Warbler feeding young.  Copyright: Bill Dyer. Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
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November 15, 2010

The Natural Resources Trustee Council for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge Reservation has completed their first restoration project.

The Oak Ridge Reservation, consisting of about 37,000 acres, is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on the Clinch River downstream of the Melton Hill Dam and near the confluence of the Clinch River and Poplar Creek. In the early 1940s, the DOE constructed three major facilities on the Oak Ridge Reservation in support of the Manhattan Project. Activities at these facilities resulted in the discharge of hazardous substances (e.g., polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs] and mercury) and radioactive compounds, leading to the contamination of natural resources both on the Oak Ridge Reservation and in the surrounding environment.

As part of a natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) for the Site, the natural resource Trustees (State of Tennessee, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and DOE) investigated the impacts of Site-related contamination on natural resources in Watts Bar Reservoir. Natural resource losses due to contamination include impacts to human uses (e.g., fishing) in addition to impact to wildlife and their habitat.

As compensation for these impacts, the Oak Ridge Reservation Trustee Council proposed establishment of a conservation easement on approximately 3,000 acres on the Oak Ridge Reservation. The conservation easement area, known as Black Oak Ridge, provides valuable nesting and foraging habitat for a variety of neo-tropical migratory birds, including the Cerulean warbler (Dendroica cerulea). A plan developed for the conservation area includes DOE funding for management, maintenance and operations. Additional recreational fishing restoration projects for Watts Bar Reservoir (Tennessee River, Clinch River, and Emory River) were also developed. The Trustees determined that the conservation easement, along with the proposed funding and additional restoration projects, provided sufficient compensation for natural resource damages in Watts Barr Reservoir and a settlement was signed on October 6, 2010. NRDA activities are continuing on the balance of the Oak Ridge Reservation.

DOE News Release - Department of Energy and State Sign Natural Resources Damages Settlement Agreement


The Experts Speak - Contaminants Branch Chief Interviewed about Disposing of Unused Medications

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SMARXT DISPOSALSmart Disposal Trademark
campaign educates consumers about how to dispose of medicines in a safe and environmentally protective manner.

February 28, 2010

Dr. Greg Masson, Chief, Branch of Environmental Contaminants, discusses the issues and techniques involved in the proper disposal of unused medications in an interview with "The Experts Speak" -- An Educational Service of the Florida Psychiatric Society, hosted by Abbey Strauss MD

SMARXT DISPOSAL Smart Disposal Trademark is a joint project of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Pharmacists Association and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America to recommend safe ways to dispose unused medications.

Learn More about the campaign.

Listen to the interview. Note: It is an audio recording without images.

 

Environmental Contaminants Biologists from Iowa Contribute to the National Fish Habitat Initiative

Thumbnail image of fire burning at petroleum storage facility in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
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Contaminants Biologist Aleshia Kenney measures trout from the Yellow River in Iowa as part of the pre-restoration monitoring program.   Credit: Mike Coffey/USFWS

February 8, 2010

Biologists from the Environmental Contaminants Program support the Allamakee County, Iowa Soil and Water Conservation District in the construction of stream restoration projects in the Yellow River.  The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program provided funds for the stream restoration projects.          

Learn More
 

Settlement Brings Millions of Dollars for Coeur d’Alene Basin Clean-up and Restoration

Thumbnail image of fire burning at petroleum storage facility in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
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Tundra swans, such as this sick bird on Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene, are among the fish and wildlife that will benefit from the ASARCO natural resources settlement. Credit: Brian Spears/USFWS

December 10, 2009

An environmental damage settlement with ASARCO LLC, a North American mining conglomerate, would provide about $194 million for the recovery of wildlife and other natural resources at more than a dozen sites managed by the Department of the Interior and state and tribal governments, including the Coeur d'Alene Basin in Idaho. The agreement is the largest bankruptcy settlement for natural resource restoration in U.S. history.

"Through this historic settlement, the American public is compensated for the damage and loss of natural resources resulting from ASARCO's past mining, smelting and refining operations," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "Were it not for this agreement, these injured resources would either remain impaired for future generations or require taxpayer expenditures to achieve environmental restoration."

The money from environmental settlements in the bankruptcy will be used to pay for costs incurred by federal and state agencies at the more than 80 sites contaminated by mining operations in 19 states, said federal officials.

The settlements for the six Department of the Interior sites primarily resulted from staff work accomplished by the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Environmental Contaminants (EC) Program. Scientists in the EC Program had the lead responsibility for acquiring funding and bring together key personnel from State, Tribal, and other Federal agencies to establish the degree of natural resource injury at each site and successfully pursue the various damage claims.

News Release

Contaminants Program - Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration: Current Assessment and Restoration Efforts - Coeur d'Alene Basin

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) Bankruptcy Settlement


Service Assists at Kingston, Tennessee, Fly Ash Slurry Spill
 
Overflight view of Kingston spill. The fly ash slurry has covered approximately 300 hundred acres. Credit: EPA


January 6, 2009

Fish and Wildlife Service Environmental Contaminants and Law Enforcement personnel are responding to the release of approximately one billion gallons (5.4 million cubic yards) of fly ash slurry.

The spill occurred when an earthen dike broke at a retention pond at the Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston Fossil Plant in Kingston, Tennessee.


SMARXT DISPOSALSmart Disposal Trademark - Improper Disposal of Unused Medication Sparks Creation of New Awareness Program

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Medicine Disposal Partnership Encourages Public to Flush Less, Crush More

March 19, 2008

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) have signed a formal agreement to help protect the nation's fish and aquatic resources from the improper disposal of medication.


Pollinator Declines

Butterfly and bee. Credit: J. K. Hollingsworth
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Butterfly and bee. Credit: J. and K. Hollingsworth
Pollinator species—bees, birds, bats and insects—are estimated to pollinate 1/3 of human food crops and 75% of flowering plants. Many pollinator species are facing serious declines. Habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species and improper use of pesticides are just a few of the key issues facing pollinators.

Learn More

How You Can Help


Ecological Restoration Site on the Mispillion River in Delaware Completed

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Pike Property Ecological Restoration Site After Phragmites Removal. Credit: DNREC

September 25, 2008

Fifty-six acres of private land, known as the Pike Property, located along the Delaware Bay have been restored. This restoration has resulted in significant habitat improvements in the Mispillion River ecosystem—home to many valuable natural resources, such as blue crab, Atlantic herring, spot, and striped bass.

This restoration was the result of a cooperative effort among the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Fish and Wildlife Service, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), and DuPont. To celebrate this accomplishment, there will be a tour of the property on October 2, 2008.

 

Service personnel respond to another large oil spill this time in the Midwest Region.

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Oil skimmer and vacuum truck operations to remove crude oil from wetland.  Photo credit: Mike Coffey/USFWS

September 22, 2008

A pipeline rupture released over 5,000 barrels of crude oil into upland forest and bottomland wetland habitats near Albion, IL.  The wetlands included former river channels near the Little Wabash River.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Environmental Contaminants Program provided technical assistance to minimize the impacts on wetlands, migratory birds, and federally listed endangered species.   

Learn More
 

Service Personnel Assist in the Largest Oil Spill Response Effort Ever Conducted in the Southeast Region.

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New Orleans, Louisiana Oil Spill Wildlife Rescue Video. Video Compilation Credit: Buddy Goatcher and Anthony Valesco/USFWS

September 8, 2008

On July 23, 2008, a major release of #6 fuel oil occurred in the Mississippi River, in New Orleans, Louisiana.  More than 9,000 barrels of oil were released.  The release necessitated the closure of more than 80 miles of river to commercial shipping and recreational boating.  The river, shorelines, and adjacent wetlands were impacted in much of the area.  This incident represents a significant threat to fish, wildlife, and habitat quality.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Environmental Contaminants Program and National Wildlife Refuge System personnel have responded to the incident.

 

Update on Bat Die-off

Ailing bats in a New York cave have the condition dubbed white-nose syndrome for the white fungus on their muzzles.  Photo by Al Hicks, New York Department of Environmental Conservation
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Ailing bats in a New York cave have the condition dubbed white-nose syndrome for the white fungus on their muzzles. Credit: Al Hicks, New York Department of Environmental Conservation

 

March 19, 2008

Some 8,000 to 11,000 bats died in several Albany, New York-area caves and mines last winter, more than half the bat population in those hibernacula. Many of the dead bats had a white fungus on their muzzles, dubbed white-nose syndrome. This year, biologists are seeing hibernating bats die by the hundreds - probably thousands - in New York, southwest Vermont and western Massachusetts.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species biologist Susi von Oettingen talks about white-nose syndrome in bats and investigates a hibernaculum in an abandoned mine.

USFWS White Nose Syndrome website

 

Study Nearing The Finish Line

Blood sample being taken from a saltmarsh sparrow.
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In this study, sparrows were captured to collect a blood sample to compare mercury exposure. Credit: BioDiversity Research Institute.
A four-year study examining the effects of mercury on saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrows nesting on National Wildlife Refuges in New England is nearing completion. This study, partially funded by On-Refuge Contaminant Investigation funds, is a cooperative effort between Refuges, Ecological Services, BioDiversity Research Institute, and the University of New Hampshire. Data analysis from the 2007 field season is nearly complete and a final report will be available in May, 2008.

Interim Report: Determining Mercury Risk to Saltmarsh Sparrows on Four National Wildlife Refuges

 

Mysterious Bat Deaths Prompt Cave Advisory

Ailing bats in a New York cave have the condition dubbed white-nose syndrome for the white fungus on their muzzles.  Photo by Al Hicks, New York Department of Environmental Conservation
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Ailing bats in a New York cave have the condition dubbed white-nose syndrome for the white fungus on their muzzles. Credit: Al Hicks, New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
February 06, 2008

Hibernating bats in New York and Vermont, including endangered Indiana bats, are dying at an alarming rate, and we don't know why. While searching for the cause of the deaths, we have developed guidance for cavers to help reduce the risk of spreading contamination. The Northeast Region and the Midwest Region have additional information.

 

Service Staff Respond to San Francisco Spill

Oil booms line Rode0 Beach in San Francisco, California.
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San Francisco - Oil booms line a San Francisco, California, beach. November 9, 2007. Credit: Desmond Thorsson/U.S. Coast Guard Auxillary.
On November 7, 2007 the cargo vessel Cosco Busan hit the San Francisco Bay Bridge in heavy fog.  The impact ruptured the hull (~100 ft x 12 ft and 4 ft deep) and spilled approximately 58,000 gallons of medium grade fuel oil.  Most of the oil has spread to central San Francisco Bay and outer coast (North and South of the Golden Gate Bridge).  The spill is not anticipated to make contact with San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex (NWRC) lands in the South Bay or offshore at the Farallon Islands, although oiled birds have been found at all of the refuges.

More Information

 

Restoration Monies From Settlement Will Benefit Multiple Species

clubshell mussels (Pleurobema clava). Credit: USFWS
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Clubshell (Pleurobema clava). Credit: USFWS
A settlement has been reached for a 2002 fish kill along the Saline Branch and Salt Fork of the Vermilion River in Illinois. A total of $491,000 will be provided to the Fish and Wildlife Service and State of Illinois to restore fish and wildlife habitat. Species that will benefit from the restoration efforts include the endangered clubshell mussel, endangered bats, and a variety of migratory birds, fishes and other aquatic species.

Learn More


Midwest grassland restoration benefits ducks wintering in Maryland

Ruddy duck
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Ruddy Duck. Credit: Glen Smart/USFWS
An oil spill into a Maryland river and grass restoration on 1,850 acres of farmland in the upper Midwest seem as far apart as the 1,000 miles separating them. For ruddy ducks that nest in prairie potholes and winter on the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay, it makes perfect sense.

Learn More


Bald Eagle Leaves Endangered Species List

bald eagle in tree
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Bald Eagle. Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS
The widespread use of the pesticide DDT after World War II caused eagle populations to plummet towards extinction. However, after nearly disappearing from most of the U.S., the bald eagle is now flourishing and no longer needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

The nation’s symbol has recovered from an all-time low of 417 nesting pairs in 1963 to almost 10,000 breeding pairs today, and will be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species.

Bald Eagle Web site

DDT information and Archive of Fish and Wildlife Service News Releases related to DDT

Environmental Contaminants Program - Migratory Birds


Pollinator Declines

Butterfly and bee. Credit: J. K. Hollingsworth
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Butterfly and bee. Credit: J. and K. Hollingsworth
Pollinator species—bees, birds, bats and insects—are estimated to pollinate 1/3 of human food crops and 75% of flowering plants. Many pollinator species are facing serious declines. Habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species and improper use of pesticides are just a few of the key issues facing pollinators.

Learn More

How You Can Help

Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder

Congressional Testimony on Pollinators - Assistant Director, Dr. Mamie Parker


100th Anniversary of the Birthday of Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson
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The centennial of the birth of Rachel Carson, a pivotal figure in wildlife conservation, was celebrated May 27, 2007.
Carson worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service from 1936-1952. Her understanding of the dangers of pesticides began during those years and inspired her most important book, “Silent Spring.” This book led to closer scrutiny of pesticides policy and the eventual ban on use of the pesticide DDT. This ban helped revive bald eagles which may soon be removed from the Endangered Species list.

For more information on Rachel Carson's accomplishments and our wildlife conservation heritage:

Rachel Carson Web Site

Rachel Carson Fact Sheet (pdf)

DDT information and Archive of Fish and Wildlife Service News Releases related to DDT

Taking a Stand in History: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring - this documentary created by high school junior, tells the story of Carson’s pioneering role in creating the modern environmental movement.


Improper Disposal of Unused Medication Sparks Creation of New Awareness Program

smart disposal logo showing the earth in the shape of a pill.
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Smart Disposal. A Prescription for a Healthy Planet. UFWS/APha partnership logo.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) have joined forces to help protect our nation's fish and aquatic resources from improper disposal of medication. As part of the effort - dubbed "SMARxT DISPOSAL" - the USFWS and the APhA will work to publicize the potential environmental and health impacts of unused medications when they are flushed into our nation's sewer systems.

News Release


Restoration Program Makes Significant Contribution at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

blue-spotted salamaner
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A former sludge pit contaminated with heavy metals was converted to a lush vernal pool that now provides breeding habitat for New Jersey endangered blue-spotted salamanders. (photo credit: USFWS).
Through a close collaboration between the Service's Environmental Contaminants Program and the National Wildlife Refuge System, $4.2 million in natural resource damage assessment restoration settlement funds have been used to add nearly 130 acres of forested wetland habitat to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (GSNWR), remove 17 acres of impervious cover and nearly 1,600 tons of demolition debris, of which more than 425 tons of concrete and 275 tons of asphalt were recycled. Additionally, more than a half-mile of new boardwalks, constructed with recycled materials, were added to the GSNWR's Wildlife Observation Center, located just 26 miles west of New York City. Over 100,000 people visit the Wildlife Observation Center boardwalk and trail system each year.

Actions currently underway include invasive species control on over 110 acres and restoration of 25 vernal (seasonal) pools. In addition, funds are being provided to partners such as the:

to help them complete 8 restoration projects throughout the watershed, that will ultimately benefit water quality on Great Swamp NWR. The total value of the acquisitions and restorations exceeds $9 M when matching funds and in-kind partner contributions are included.

Restoration Program
Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge


Land Acquired in Pollution Settlement Becomes Nature Preserve

The Indiana Natural Resources Commission voted on November 14, 2006, to dedicate Pine Station Nature Preserve, a 258-acre tract bordered by U.S Steel to the north and Gary/Chicago International Airport to the southwest.

The property, as well as $200,000 for its restoration, was acquired as part of the Midco I and II Superfund sites' damage settlement.  At the time, the property consisted of 47 acres of relatively intact dune and swale habitat and approximately 208 acres of degraded habitat in need of restoration and provided habitat for a host of rare species. 

Environmental Contaminants staff in the Service's Bloomington, Indiana, developed a plan to restore the degraded areas along with the Indiana's Departments of Environmental Management and Natural Resources. Construction debris and nonnative vegetation was removed, and 12 acres of wetlands were restored. There are also plans to install a hiking trail and visitor parking lot and may eventually link the hiking trail with other recreational trails in Northwest Indiana.  

Fact Sheet: Restoring our Resources - Midco I and II Superfund Sites, Northwestern Indiana (pdf)


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The Service, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program and other federal agencies aim to protect and rebuild populations of seabirds along the Central California coast, like these common murres, whose numbers dwindled dramatically in the 1980s. (photo credit: NOAA).
Working Together to Protect Seabirds

Seabird species, particularly those species that nest and roost on cliffs or offshore rocks, are highly susceptible to human disturbances. When disturbed, the birds vacate their nests, leaving their eggs and chicks unprotected from predators and harsh weather. Repeated disturbance may cause the birds to totally abandon a colony.

Disturbance of breeding seabirds can come from various activities including kayaking, boating, hiking, diving or surfing, flyovers of planes and helicopters, and fishing operations. To put seabird colonies on California’s central coast back on the road to health, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and several California state and non-governmental agencies have created the Seabird Colony Protection Program, an innovative outreach and monitoring effort that enlists the help of those who use and enjoy the sea, shore and sky to minimize their impact on seabird nesting and breeding grounds.

More Information


The historic Lonsdale Drive-in sign heralding restored habitat and bikeway . (photo credit: USFWS).
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The historic Lonsdale Drive-in sign heralding restored habitat and bikeway . (photo credit: USFWS).
Rhode Island Restoration Site to Receive Coastal America Award

Coastal America presented a Partnership Award on September 11, 2006 to agencies and individuals in recognition of the collaborative success of the Lonsdale Drive-In restoration project in Lincoln, Rhode Island.

The Lonsdale Drive-In site was one of the most highly valued freshwater wetlands in Rhode Island. The land was used as a pasture for many years until the early 1950s, when 23 acres were paved to construct the drive-in. The theatre was closed in the early 1980s and the site sat neglected. But now, back by popular demand, it's wildlife habitat!

News Release

More Photos

Restoration In Action: North Cape, Rhode Island, Lobster Restoration Program Completed

An observer v-notches a lobster on-board a commercial vessel.
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An observer v-notches a female lobster. V-notched lobsters are protected from harvest, allowing them more opportunity to reproduce. (photo credit: NOAA).
The 1996 North Cape oil spill occurred when the 340-foot North Cape oil barge ran aground, after its tug caught fire during a severe winter storm. Over 828,000 gallons of home heating oil spilled into local waters, killing an estimated nine million lobsters, millions of surf clams, fish, birds, and other organisms. To help recover the lobster population in the area, wildlife managers recommended the notching and protection of female lobster.

Visit the North Cape Restoration home page


Last Updated: October 31, 2012