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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

Meet the Species: The ‘I‘iwi

Have you ever heard of the ‘i‘iwi?  If you’re from Hawai’i, chances are you have. 

It’s a bright, scarlet bird with black wings, and has a sickle-shaped bill that helps it sip nectar from long, tubular flowers.

i'i'wiPhoto: Jack Jeffrey/USFWS

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Looking Back: Howard Zahniser

Every so often it's good to look into the past to revisit the people who got us where we are today. Looking Back is a series on the people who helped shape the National Wildlife Refuge System. The series is based on "A Look Back," a regular column written by Karen Leggett, from the Refuge System Branch of Communications, which appears in each issue of the Refuge Update newsletter.

Howard Zahniser was known in Washington, DC, for his genial personality, his poetic prose, and his coat.

Zahniser PortraitCourtesy of Wilderness.net

The coat, tailor-made for Zahnhiser, had multiple oversize pockets to hold handouts and drafts of legislation while Zahniser made his rounds on Capitol Hill in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.

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Looking Back: Victor Scheffer

Every so often it's good to look into the past to revisit the people who got us where we are today. Looking Back is a series on the people who helped shape the National Wildlife Refuge System. The series is based on "A Look Back," a regular column written by Karen Leggett, from the Refuge System Branch of Communications, which appears in each issue of the Refuge Update newsletter.

“Long-lost Deer Found on West Coast by Service Naturalist”

This headline on a 1941 press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior identified Victor B. Scheffer as the naturalist who discovered a band of about 600 Columbia white-tailed deer along the Washington-Oregon border.  Lewis and Clark had described these deer, whose tails and antlers differ from other whitetails and whose habitat was largely destroyed by farmers and hunters. 

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Why I Hunt

This post comes from Joshua Winchell, coordinator for the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, in honor of National Hunting and Fishing Day.

Hunters have provided hundreds of billions of dollars in economic benefit to our country, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. The survey has been conducted every five years since 1955 and measures the participation and expenditures of our nation’s hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers.

And this same survey indicates that hunting participation in America has flatlined.

Hunting at sunset

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Stamp Out Extinction

The Save Vanishing Species Stamp is the first U.S. postage stamp issued in the 164-year history of the Postal Service to raise funds for international wildlife conservation. Proceeds from the sale of the stamp will directly benefit the Wildlife Without Borders Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCF), administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

The stamp features an Amur tiger cub and sells for 55 cents per stamp - just slightly above the cost of first-class postage. By purchasing the stamp,the public can directly contribute to the on-the-ground conservation programs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since 1989, the Wildlife Without Borders Program has saved tigers, rhinos,elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, marine turtles and other endangered species. We have supported more than 1,800 projects working with more than 200 partners around the globe. 

Save Vanishing Species StampSave Vanishing Species © 2011 United States Postal Service. All Rights Reserved.

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Looking Back: Spotlight on Ira Gabrielson

Every so often it's good to look into the past to revisit the people who got us where we are today. Looking Back is a new series on the people who helped shape the National Wildlife Refuge System. The series is based on "A Look Back," a regular column written by Karen Leggett, from the Refuge System Branch of Communications, which appears in each issue of the Refuge Update newsletter.

“When I learned there were actually jobs where people were paid for studying birds and mammals, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.”

-Ira Gabrielson

Ira Noel Gabrielson devoted his life not only to studying animals but also to protecting them and conserving their habitats. Born in Sioux Rapids, Iowa, “Dr. Gabe” began working with the Bureau of Biological Survey in 1915.  

He replaced J.N “Ding” Darling as director of the Survey in 1935, and when the Survey and the Bureau of Fisheries became the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1940, Gabrielson became its first director.  Six years later, he left the Service to head the Wildlife Management Institute and later helped to organize and preside over the World Wildlife Fund.

Gabrielson releasing a duck

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Take a Photo Tour

If you didn't know, every region has a Flickr page with some great imagery - so does our National Digital Library (along with lots of other cool things).  Here's a quick photo tour of our regions. Enjoy!

These Mexican spotted owls, listed as threatened, rest in a canyon in Utah, in the Mountain Prairie Region. Rock walls with caves, ledges, and other areas provide protected nest and roost sites. 

Mexican Spotted OwlsPhoto Credit: Amie Smith

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Putting a Stamp on Conservation

The Federal Duck Stamp.  To be honest, before I started working here, I really didn’t know much about it.  Maybe you’re like me, and you don’t know there’s a national art contest to create the new Duck Stamp each year.   If you’re an artist, you may want to consider creating something for the contest.  While time might be running a little thin to submit something this year (entries must be postmarked by midnight on August 15th), maybe you’ll consider entering next year.

2011 Duck StampCurrent Duck Stamp, Artist: James Hautman

What’s the purpose of the Duck Stamp, though?  Of course art contests can be fun, but here’s what it is all about.  Aside from being required for hunting waterfowl, the Duck Stamp serves as a very important conservation tool.  Ninety-eight cents of every dollar generated from Duck Stamps goes directly to buy or lease wetlands for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System, making the Duck Stamp one of the best dollar-for-dollar investments in the future of America’s wetlands.

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Up in Flames: Wildfire on a Refuge

By June 2011, more acres had burned from wildfires across the country than in all of 2010. The following is a look at one of those wildfires, still raging in Georgia at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. In the Southeast Region, 258 fires have started this year on nearly three dozen national wildlife refuges. A total of about 432,000 acres have burned, the vast majority in the Okefenokee.

It started with a bolt of lightning that hit the swamp at 9 a.m. on April 30. More than three months later, fire is still on the move in the water-starved Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. About three-quarters of the refuge have burned, totaling more than 300,000 acres.

An active fire.An active fire.  Image Credit: Howard McCullough

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Conserving the Future through Science and Partnerships

This week Open Spaces is featuring posts from our new Director, Dan Ashe. Dan will be blogging live from the Conserving the Future Conference currently underway in Madison, Wisconsin.

Yesterday was an energizing, inspiring first day of the Conserving the Future conference for the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Many themes have been emerging from the conference so far and I want to take today’s blog to talk about two that I thought were particularly notable and important. 

The first is the use of science. The Service has a long, distinguished history of using the best available science in our decisions and our ability to have access to the best science is more important than ever. 

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