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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

Go Fish at National Wildlife Refuges

Children fish at Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Maryland, with some friendly adult encouragement. Credit: Courtesy of Ed Grimes.


Teach a child to fish, and you do even more than feed her for a lifetime. You’ll spend a day outdoors together, learn a time-honored pastime, tune in to the natural world around you and share the thrill of the catch. Mark your calendar now for these learn-to-fish events on national wildlife refuges this spring and summer. 

Find a Fishing Event

Girl Scouts Get Conservation Done

Girl Scout Cadettes Grace Amundson, Jennifer Hamann and Amanda Clements watch as local kids play one of the games they designed. Photo Credit: Nick Berndt/USFWS


When someone says Girl Scouts at this time of year, your mind might first go to Thin Mints and Tagalongs. But Girl Scouts are also vital to conservation.

Just last month three Girl Scouts were honored for conservation outreach at La Crosse Fisheries Resource Center in Wisconsin. They spent more than 150 hours each researching, designing and developing a fun and interactive way to engage area youth with ecology of the Mississippi River.

Eagle Creek Hatchery Sends Second Batch of Salmon to Washington Hatchery

These coho salmon fry are being counted. Photo Credit: Caroline Peterschmidt/USFWS

You may remember a story last month about how our Eagle Creek Hatchery in Oregon sent 351,000 eyed coho salmon eggs to state-run Grays River Hatchery in Washington. Grays River had lost 600,000 salmon fry. We also told you Eagle Creek would transfer an additional 240,000 fry as soon as they could travel.

This week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) took possession of 204 pounds of unfed fry (1,178 fish per pound, so 240,000 fry = 204 pounds) from Eagle Creek for the trip to Grays River.


Seal Beach Refuge: A Climate Change Lab

Seal Beaah
Climate change and sea-level rise make it increasingly challenging to maintain habitat for the endangered light-footed Ridgway’s rail (formerly known as light-footed clapper rail) at Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge south of Los Angeles.  Photo Credit: Kirk Gilligan/USFWS

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1972 to conserve habitats essential to threatened and endangered species, such as the California least tern and light-footed Ridgway’s rail, as well as migratory birds. However, climate change and sea-level rise make it increasingly challenging to maintain habitat for the light-footed Ridgway’s rail (formerly known as light-footed clapper rail) and other marsh-dependent species.

So, the refuge plans to implement a saltmarsh sediment augmentation project and study the marshes’ response. By placing 8-10 inches of clean dredged sediment over a 10-acre plot of low saltmarsh habitat, we hope that the refuge’s plants and wildlife can adapt to sea-level rise and be a model for other wetlands’ response to climate change.

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Marlisa Jemison's Passion: Electrofishing

SCA logo

Open Spaces is featuring monthly posts by Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns working to promote, protect and study wildlife on public lands all over the United States. Since 1957, SCA has been connecting young people from all backgrounds with life-changing, career-making conservation service opportunities. Learn how you can get involved at www.thesca.org. Today, Marlisa Jemison checks in from Silvio. O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, which is in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Marlisa Jemison
Marlisa on the electrofishing boat

“I love fishing.”

I never planned to say that in my life, but I’ve never found much joy in the thought of waiting hours for the mere possibility of catching a fish. I was more into the idea of letting other people enjoy fishing while I enjoyed the spoils of their labor. 

As it turns out, I just hadn’t been doing the right kind of fishing. Electrofishing is  its own glorious world of fun, a world I wasn’t privy to until my year in SCA.


4 Creative Wildlife and Nature Contests That Need You

ES Art
Take a look at the Flickr page of last year's entries.

Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

Who Can Enter: Students in grades K - 12
Deadline: Entries must be postmarked by March 1.
What: This contest is open to K-12 grade students residing in the United States, including those  who are homeschooled or belong to a youth/art program. This contest brings out many talented young artists as they create passionate pieces for wildlife. The contest is an integral part of the 10th annual national Endangered Species Day on May 15.
Details and Rules: http://www.endangered.org/campaigns/endangered-species-day/2015-saving-endangered-species-youth-art-contest/


Burrowing Owls: Really Superb Owls

burrowing owl
To have a little wildlife fun during the Super Bowl, the Service and others tweet using the #Superb_Owl hashtag. This picture stirred up a Social Media storm. Photo Credit: Katie McVey/USFWS


You might have seen this awesome photo that Katie McVey, a wildlife refuge specialist at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah posted on Social Media during the Superb Owl, er Super Bowl. The photo was featured on Good Morning America, The Huffington Post and elsewhere.

We wanted to know a little more about the ridiculously cute burrowing owls she photographed, so we talked with Katie. 


Private Landowners Help the Ocelot and the Aplomado Falcon

Ocelots require dense thornscrub habitat. Private landowners play an important role in ocelot
conservation by partnering with the Service through conservation easements that protect such habitat. Photo Credit: Seth Patterson

More than 70 percent of the land in this country is privately owned, and many of the species we  look after use private land. Fortunately for us and the wild things we care for, there are private landowners like the Frank Yturria family of southern Texas.

In November, the family conveyed a conservation easement on 7,428 acres of ranch land near Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Willacy County. The easement permanently protects the land, providing vital habitat for two endangered species, the ocelot and the aplomado falcon.


Jontie Aldrich Makes it a Point to ‘Hunt and Fish and Mess Around’ Outdoors

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Jonte Aldrich
Jontie Aldrich and his son went on a caribou hunt in northern Alaska.

Jontie Aldrich leads the Oklahoma Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in our Southwest Region. Our Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program works with private landowners to enhance and restore fish and wildlife habitat on private lands, and with 95 percent of the land in Oklahoma privately owned,  the program is a key player in conservation. The Oklahoma Partners Program also helps connect kids to nature through its Outdoor Classroom project. Since 1994, it has established 139 Outdoor Classrooms across the state. The classrooms provide "hands on" and interactive ways to engage kids with our nation's natural resources.  Recently, Jontie has been working with the Choctaw tribe of Oklahoma to develop an Outdoor Classroom at a Native American residential learning center for students in grades 1 through 12. This outdoor learning program seeks to connect tribal youth with their cultural and natural heritage and provide educational and career-building experiences.

5 Questions for Jontie

1. Do you hunt/fish and if so what? 

Yes, I love to hunt and fish.  Archery elk- and deer-hunting and waterfowl hunting are my passion.  I have hunted moose and caribou in Alaska.  I enjoy fishing our farm ponds with my grandsons for bass and catfish.  


Paul Bakke Brings Magic of Moving Water Back to Seattle Neighborhood Where He Grew Up

With many partners, the Service's Paul Bakke is restoring a creek in Seattle. Photo Credit: Ann Froschauer/USFWS

When Service geomorphologist/hydrologist Paul Bakke was growing up in northwest Seattle, his parents told him to stay away from the neighborhood’s polluted Thornton Creek. “Nobody wanted their kids playing in that creek.”

So of course, he and his friends played in it.  “It was sort of this fascinating little universe of things going on,” he says, adding that he has “lots of fond memories of it even though it wasn't by any means a pristine water body.”

Paul still finds Thornton Creek fascinating, but now he is helping restore a part of the creek right near where he went to high school into a salmon-spawning stream … in the middle of Seattle, among the largest metro areas in the nation.

It hasn’t been easy.


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