It’s What We Do!
BY PATTY HERMAN, COLUMBIA FWCO
Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO), located in Columbia, Missouri, were established in 1991. The office is conveniently located just a few miles from the Missouri River, home of the federally endangered Pallid Sturgeon, a species that Columbia FWCO and our partners are working diligently to recover. Columbia FWCO’s work extends well beyond the muddy banks of the Missouri River and includes a diverse array of fisheries work performed across the Midwest Region.
Habitat Assessment and Monitoring Project
Columbia FWCO is in the final stages of the Habitat Assessment and Monitoring Project (HAMP) in partnership with US Army Corps of Engineers. HAMP is a two-year, multi-agency project evaluating the efficacy of existing shallow water habitats (natural and human made) to support early life history stages of the endangered Pallid Sturgeon in the lower Missouri River. Shallow water habitats are hypothesized to be critical to the survival of larval and juvenile native fishes by providing nursery areas for them to escape the fast moving water and to feed and grow. The conclusions drawn from this project will be delivered in Spring 2016 and will facilitate adaptive management strategies for future habitat construction action by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Program on the Missouri River. Credit: USFWS
Aquatic Invasive Species
Columbia FWCO is part of the massive effort underway to prevent invasive carp from spreading into the Great Lakes. The primary focus for the office is to develop new gears to monitor and capture Bighead and Silver carps, as well as other aquatic invasive species. Columbia FWCO continues to develop and improve the electrified and non-electrified butterfly trawl (Paupier) and the Lampara purse seine that target fast swimming adult carp. Our gear development efforts also include nets and techniques for capturing the young-of-year and juvenile carps. Mamou and scalene trawls have shown great success for sampling these elusive early life history stages of Bighead and Silver carps. As part of the invasive carp monitoring in the Illinois River and Chicago Area Waterway System, a project is planned to study the early life history stages and habitat use of these invasive species. Columbia FWCO is also working with state and federal partners to design and implement novel detection gears and sampling methods to monitor the invasive Round Goby and Northern Snakehead, two species that are poised to invade Missouri.
rosettes deep in Barren Fork Creek, Mark Twain National Forest.
Credit: Jeff Finley, USFWS
Fish Habitat Program
National efforts continue in an attempt to mitigate impacts from past anthropogenic activities and prevent further degradation of aquatic habitats. The Columbia FWCO administers funds for projects supported through the National Fish Passage Program and the National Fish Habitat Action Partnership. These programs fund projects that remove or replace structures and barriers which impede natural passage of aquatic organisms and assist landowners in adopting best management practices that add value to property while restoring aquatic habitat. Through these programs, Columbia FWCO works closely with state, county and private partners in Missouri and Iowa providing technical and financial assistance. The focal area for our passage projects has been the historic range of federally threatened Niangua Darter; however, projects have also been funded throughout the range of the federally endangered Topeka Shiner (includes Missouri and Iowa).
Columbia FWCO has a long-time commitment to servicing the aquatic needs of Federal Lands, including; U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuges and U.S. military installations. Through these partnerships, we are able to provide baseline assessments and management recommendations for the protection and benefit of freshwater mussel and fish species living in the streams passing through federal lands. Perhaps the most rewarding aspects of our work come through numerous outreach events designed to connect with the public and children to introduce them to the aquatic organisms we work to conserve.