Facebook icon Twitter icon Flicker icon You Tube icon

Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

Emphasis Areas will Steer Future Conservation in Southwest Region

emphasis area map

Strategic Habitat Conservation, landscape-level conservation and the idea of surrogate species, using one species to represent other species or even ecosystems, are ways that the Service is getting conservation done in an era of tight budgets. Director Dan Ashe has said that the Service will “do the best that we can possibly do with whatever resources are made available to us.” The Southwest Region has chosen to take landscape-level conservation a step further. Southwest Region Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle explains.

History repeats itself and I have lived long enough to see a few reenactments with my own eyes.  As Regional Director of the Southwest Region I am charged with a large responsibility to steer conservation of myriad species in a multitude of ecosystems. The challenge inspires me daily.  

The Southwest Region spans landscapes adorned with endemic fishes and salamanders, wintering waterfowl and nesting warblers. Pronghorn skitter over our prairies and rare trout swim in cold mountain streams that pour down sky islands that jut up from the desert floor. The people who have dedicated their lives to conservation are as diverse in talents and character and skills as are the landscapes in my region—lands that ascend from sandy beaches at sea level on the Gulf Coast up to Arctic tundra in the high headlands of the Rio Grande basin on the Colorado border.

[More]

Bringing Back a Beauty

 Hines emerald dragonfly
Larva of a Hine’s emerald dragonfly. Photo by USFWS

The Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin provides more than 30 million fish, eggs and mussels of more than 26 species to meet conservation and research needs all across the country, from New Mexico to Georgia. And now the hatchery is raising the federally endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly, the only dragonfly on the Endangered Species list. 

Dragonflies play an important role in nature. They catch and eat small flying insects, including mosquitoes, biting flies and gnats. In their immature stage (larvae), dragonflies are an important food source for larger aquatic animals such as fish. They also serve as excellent water quality watchdogs. 

[More]

Prime Hook NWR in Delaware launches $38 million marsh restoration project

Prime Hook
Aerial view of Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, where work will repair breached marshes and reconstruct severely damaged shoreline, including critical dune restoration. Photo by USFWS

Work to restore the marshes at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge is expected to start this month, the first phase of a $38 million project to build storm and sea level rise resilience into the natural landscape. 

Learn More

Service, Partners Help Put Sea Turtles out to Sea

release
A sea turtle strides off into the ocean. Photo by James Primrose/NOAA

On May 27, biologists from our Texas Coastal Ecological Services Field Office in Houston assisted NOAA, Moody Gardens and the Houston Zoo with the release 51 endangered sea turtles at Stewart Beach in Galveston, Texas. Forty-nine of the sea turtles had been rescued last December in the Cape Cod area after suffering from the cold. Fifty of turtles released were Kemp’s ridleys and one was a loggerhead sea turtle. Despite the rainy, muddy weather, it was a well-attended community event centered on sea turtle outreach and endangered species education.

 

Safe Harbors: 20 Years Later

red-cockaded woodpecker
Red-cockaded woodpeckers have been big beneficiaries of Safe Harbor Agreements. Photo by Eric Spadgenske/USFWS

Red-cockaded woodpeckers are just one of many species protected as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) helped by a Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA), an innovative conservation tool to encourage voluntary conservation actions  for listed species  by private property owners.  The cooperation of property owners is essential to help these species recover, because more than two-thirds of the habitat for listed species in the United States is found on privately owned and managed properties. 

With an SHA, which marks its 20th anniversary this year, we can ease a big concern some property owners have about supporting or attracting listed species on their properties: potential property-use restrictions related to the ESA in the future. 

But under an SHA, participating property owners can contribute to the recovery of listed species on non-federal lands without fear. They receive formal assurances from the Service that if they fulfill the conditions of the SHA, we will not require any additional or different management activities by the participants without their consent.

[More]

Trash Dump Leads to Prison Sentence

Law enforcement

Tina Shaw in our Mideast Region tells us about a law-enforcement case that showcases how our officers do much more than conservation-focused law enforcement. They also keep people safe on federal lands through through what would best be classified as traditional police work.

Read More

Federal Wildlife Officer Kurt Campbell with meth lab evidence. Photo by USFWS.

 

Fishing with Veterans Teaches Life Lessons

Nineteen-year-old Josie Cicia, a longtime Service volunteer at Richard Cronin National Salmon Station in Sunderland, Massachusetts, reflects on her favorite event: The Wounded Veterans Fishing Program.

Working with veterans is an honor, she writes. They fought to keep our country safe, and now I get to help them have fun and enjoy time outside fishing, socializing and having a cook out. One of my favorite parts of spending time with the veterans is when they share their stories with me. Their stories have actually influenced some of the choices I’ve made for my own life.

Read More

veterans
  Volunteers help out with the Veterans Fishing Program at the Richard Cronin National Salmon Station. Photo by USFWS

 

Go Fish During National Fishing and Boating Week; Excitement Awaits

fishing
An afternoon of fishing. Photo by Carl Zitman/USFWS
Is that fish you just landed your #FirstCatch of the day? The season? Even your lifetime? Let RBFF’s Take Me Fishing know.


You see and hear jokes about how boring fishing is, which always leads us to ask if the “joker” has ever been fishing? Perhaps they are confusing boring with relaxing, but even relaxing goes out the window when the fish are biting. 

[More]

Acushnet River Becomes Fish-Friendly Once More

Since 1992, 40 restoration projects have been funded in and around New Bedford Harbor, a major commercial fishing port and industrial center in southeastern Massachusetts.

Electrical parts manufacturers polluted New Bedford Harbor with highly toxic PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and metals from the 1940s to the 1970s. The contamination limited breeding and killed marine life throughout hundreds of acres of the estuary. Some species disappeared completely from areas of high contamination. The economic impact was severe, including long-term fishing closures, the loss of beach use, diminished property values and reduced opportunities for coastal development.

When hazardous substances enter the environment, fish, wildlife and other natural resources can be injured. The Service, other Department of the Interior agencies, and state, tribal and federal partners, act as “trustees” for these resources. The trustees identify the natural resources injured, determine the extent of the injuries, recover damages from the responsible parties and lead restoration of the area.

[More]

Conserving Our Home and Theirs

saltmarsh sparrows
As high tide flows into a Connecticut coastal marsh, young saltmarsh sparrows keep their heads above water. Photo by Jeanna Mielcarek/UConn SHARP

From Maine down to Virginia, salt marshes provide a home to species like the saltmarsh and seaside sparrow, as described in a recent PBS documentary. Several Hurricane Sandy-funded science projects led by the Service are studying coastal habitats, identifying areas for restoration where wildlife and people are most vulnerable to the forces of future storms.

Read More

More Entries