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A Talk on the Wild Side.

140 Years of Conservation: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fisheries Program

If you’re a fan of ours on Facebook, you may have noticed links to our fisheries podcast over the past few weeks.  The series, consisting of nine interviews, is designed to highlight different hot topics throughout the country.  Right now we’re in our sixth week, so we have three more podcasts to go.

How much do you know about the program, why it was started, or what it’s all about?

Well, this is the Fisheries 140th year.  In 1871, the U.S. Department of State encouraged the establishment of the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries.  There was a growing concern over the decline in the Nation’s fishery resources, a lack of information about the status of the Nation’s fisheries, and a need to define and protect fishing rights in the United States. 

Today, our Fisheries Program plays an important role in conserving America’s fisheries.   We work with key partners from States, Tribes, federal agencies, other Fish and Wildlife Service programs, and private interests in a larger effort to conserve fish and other aquatic resources.

Bull Trout

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Pennsylvania: Climate Change Brings Uncertain Future for Bog Turtle

A bog turtle sits in what looks like hay and grass
The impacts of climate change could amplify other threats to the bog turtle, such as habitat loss and fragmentation. Photo: Gary Peeples, USFWS. Download.

In October 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Pennsylvania, in part, to protect the federally threatened bog turtle. Climate change, however, could amplify existing threats to the turtle’s fragile habitat. 

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources all have identified habitat loss and fragmentation -- mostly due to development -- as the main threat facing bog turtles.

When the Refuge boundary was established, Cherry Valley was experiencing a surge in residential development that threatened the turtle’s habitat -- wet meadows and other shallow, sunny wetlands. In a November 2010 article in Refuge Update detailing establishment of the refuge, Refuge Manager Michael Horne said the first parcel acquired for Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge’s provided “promising wetlands in terms of bog turtle management.”

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Nevada: Climate Change May Impact Existing Refuge Water Concerns

A greenish blue lagoon surrounded by dry shrubbery

Kings Pool at Ash Meadow National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada is a source of precious water in the desert. Photo: Cyndi Souza, USFWS.

Multimedia iconPodcast: Devils Hole pupfish. This iridescent blue inch-long fish makes its home in the 93 degree waters of Devils Hole, which is located within Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge near the California/Nevada border. The Devils Hole pupfish is found nowhere else in the world.

In southwestern Nevada, the nation’s need for renewable energy and a national wildlife refuge’s need to fulfill its mission is converging with climate change.

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is an anomaly: an oasis of spring-fed wetlands in the Mojave Desert. Even more unusual are the plants and animals that have evolved there. Scientists have found 26 species that they believe exist only on or near the refuge.

When the Bureau of Land Management notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in early 2009 about a right-of-way application to install a solar array on BLM land 10 miles from the refuge, FWS and National Park Service staff considered how the project might affect the refuge and its resources. Most concerning was a proposed wet cooling system that would consume 4,500 acre-feet of water per year – water to be obtained via pumping from a deep-water wells. (An acre-foot is the amount of water required to fill a one-acre area to the depth of one foot.)

Concerns about climate change effects on regional water supplies added to the Service’s sense of urgency.

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