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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

A Favorite Uncle



Fishery Biologist Dan Magneson, the assistant hatchery manager at Quilcene National Fish Hatchery in Washington, remembers a big influence.

If you are lucky, during the course of your life you’ll run into a few people who exert a profound influence on you, and leave you with loads of treasured memories. 

And if you are luckier still, they will turn out to be one of your own relatives.

I have had a lot of really great male relatives, but like so many other folks, they seemed mostly consumed and held captive by the demands of their jobs.  But not so one of my uncles; he operated a bulldozer for a small construction outfit, but wasn’t one to place the pursuit of money over quality time spent outdoors.  While so many others slaved and strived to get further ahead, he was pretty much content with life as it was.  Had he been born one or two hundred years earlier, he likely would have been a mountain man, a beaver trapper or maybe a market hunter.


Midwest Regional Director to Serve on Monarch Joint Venture Steering Committee

Tom Melius
Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius joins Monarch Joint Venture steering committee. Photos by USFWS.

As we continue to marshal our forces to save the monarch butterfly, we are lucky to have our Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representative on the Monarch Joint Venture Steering Committee.

Tom has provided expert leadership on monarch conservation across our Midwest Region includes eight states in the heart of the monarch’s range, including 1.29 million acres of national wildlife refuge system lands. Now, he will help guide conservation implementation across the country.

“We’re excited to have Tom on our team,” says Dr. Karen Oberhauser, Monarch Joint Venture Steering Committee Co-Chair. "His leadership as the regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region will be invaluable as we ramp up monarch conservation across the country."

The Monarch Joint Venture is a partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs that are working together to support and coordinate efforts to protect the monarch migration across the lower 48 United States.

Got Questions for Wildlife Crime Solvers?

Our Wildlife Forensics Laboratory takes your questions live.


On March 3 at 1 pm EST (10 am PST), in honor of World Wildlife Day, we’ll host a live question-and-answer session and behind-the-scenes look at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Forensics Laboratory - the first and only full-service wildlife forensics lab in the world.


Building Our Partnership with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity

boat trip

Pon Dixson, acting project leader at Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex (last row on right in the middle) leads Phi Beta Sigmas and Sigma Beta Club youth members on an air-boat tour with Bayou Sauvage Refuge staff.

Less than a year ago, we began working with African-American fraternity Phi Beta Sigma to engage urban youth in conservation, the natural world and biological sciences.

With 80 percent of Americans living in cities, we know we must do more to forge a connection between nature and urban communities.  Our efforts will pay off for them – regular time in the outdoors has been shown to benefit physical, mental and emotional health – for the community – natural systems provide us with clean air, water, jobs and lots more – and for us – as we develop a new generation of conservationists.

Since our leaders signed that Memorandum of Understanding, the folks with “boots on the ground” have been coordinating visits to National Wildlife Refuges to show Sigmas some of the opportunities available there. Our refuge managers also benefit by building relationships with people in the local community.


Got Manatees on your Mind?

Male manatee Trinidad is getting accustomed to his new rehabilitation pool at SeaWorld Orlando. Credit: SeaWorld


Manatees have attracted a good bit of attention lately. The endangered animal faces many threats, both natural and man-made. Exposure to red tide, cold stress and disease are all natural problems that can affect manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear. But 20 manatees are still alive today, thanks to the hard work of many people.


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.


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