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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

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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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/

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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. 

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Private Landowners Help the Ocelot and the Aplomado Falcon

ocelot
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.

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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.  

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

Bakke
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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Where Do You Find Refuge?

Refuge
Enjoying family time on a national wildlife refuge. Photo Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

More and more our lives are filled with computers, social media, smart phones, and other electronic devices that seem to dictate our daily activities.  We are so “plugged in” that we are often out of touch.  How do we refuel our souls and reconnect with the world around us?  Here is one journey that begins, and continues, on a national wildlife refuge.

Saving Species with Art

Last year’s grand prize winner, Southern Sea Otter by Amy Feng.
Last year’s grand prize winner, Southern Sea Otter by Amy Feng.

Today, we are announcing the 2015 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest, which invites  school children to put their creative skills to work for wildlife. This story about the young woman who created the trophy for the contest is adapted from the original, which appeared in the fall 2013 edition of Fish & Wildlife News.

Artist Meredith Graf puts talent to work for conservation

Each year thousands of young students descend on the nation’s capital to visit the monuments and museums, and learn how their government works. In 2009, among those thousands was an eighth-grader from New Orleans, Louisiana, who came to town intent on helping endangered wildlife through the use of her artistic talent. Since that visit, her singular efforts have proved a giant boost to educational efforts for endangered species.  

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Married or Proposed to on Public Lands? You Ought to be in Pictures

The Valentine’s Day video from the Department of the Interior featuring proposals and weddings on America’s public lands has become so popular that it has become an annual tradition. Your help will make it even better this year! Email your videos and photos of your weddings or proposals in Wildlife Refuges,National Parks and other public lands to newmedia@ios.doi.gov by February 7 to be in this year's video. (Last year's video is above. We dare you not to say "Aww.")

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