BY ANDREW BRIGGS, ALPENA FWCO-WATERFORD, MICHIGAN-SUBSTATION
Staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) – Waterford substation attended Wildlife Weekend for the third consecutive year at Indian Springs Metropark in White Lake, Michigan. The two day event took place September 13th and 14th and was designed to allow children and adults to get a first-hand look (and feel) of the wildlife in their area. Activities included an animal skins and skulls table, wildlife crafts, pond dipping for insects, and an open lab to view pond creatures through microscopes. Other exhibits and presentations featured live animals, including amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds, and a lake sturgeon. This year’s event was the largest so far with approximately 125 attendees over the weekend.
The staff from the Alpena FWCO taught attendees about native fish species like the lake sturgeon, aquatic invasive species like Asian carps, and the equipment and techniques they use to conduct their research. Staff also conveyed the importance of conserving our native species and preventing the spread of invasive species. Many of the children even had the opportunity to touch a live juvenile lake sturgeon provided by the Service staff. Pamphlets and fish identification cards were handed out and many children walked away with temporary Service tattoos and stickers.
Wildlife Weekend offered the opportunity for the Service to maintain partnerships and build new ones. Partners who took part in Wildlife Weekend included the Great Lakes Zoological Society, Howell Nature Center, Monarch Watch, the Oakland Audubon Society, and Indian Springs Metropark. The event also was an opportunity to help foster environmental appreciation in children and adults alike.
BY SHAWN SANDERS, IRON RIVER NFH
Iron River National Fish Hatchery (NFH) was established for restoration of Great Lakes fish species. The majority of fish and eggs produced for restoration goals have been lake trout. However, this facility has also cooperatively provided 300,000 coaster brook trout to First Nations and State Natural Resource Agencies. Two strains of coaster brook trout have been used in this effort and both originated from parent stocks near Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Current agreements exist between Iron River NFH and Grand Portage, Minnesota and Keweenaw Bay, Michigan Indian Communities, allowing Iron River NFH to provide fingerling brook trout to be stocked into tribal waters located within the Lake Superior watershed.
This past winter (2013-14) the staff at Iron River NFH used additional water from the main hatchery well-water line to increase water temperatures for rearing brook trout. This provided both an earlier hatch and a quick growth to the first feeding stage. This initial burst in growth and cleaner water also delivered an increased survival to coaster brook trout reared at Iron River NFH. The final result was healthy brook trout nearly double the size of fish stocked in previous years.
Annual stocking events and a continued effort to provide healthy, high-quality fish help to strengthen ties with our partners. Efforts in the future at Iron River NFH will focus on the potential of a new artesian well and a culture system to more efficiently rear coaster brook trout.
BY CLAYTON RIDENOUR, COLUMBIA FWCO
Along with staff from the Big Muddy Refuge, Jeremiah Smith, Jared Kneer, and Clayton Ridenour of the Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) spent an evening on the banks of the Missouri River with a group of over 40 local citizens that included some of the newest recruits to the Missouri Master Naturalists Boone’s Lick Chapter. The Missouri Master Naturalist is a community based natural resource education and volunteer program. Its purpose is to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Missouri. Twenty of the newest recruits to the program were treated with a boat tour of the Missouri River and through Tadpole chute. Four Service boats were used to transport the group on a five mile round trip that included several stops for periods of question and answer, and great discussion about the state of conservation and restoration on Missouri River. The Master Naturalist program has produced many excellent well informed volunteers that have provided significant contribution to the Station Mission, and we look forward to working with the latest class of Master Naturalists in the coming year.