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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

Intern Adventures: From the Sunshine State to a State of Salmon

Michelle Pena-Ortiz, an AmeriCorps intern, followed her penchant for getting her hands dirty all the way from Florida to Washington State.

AmeriCorps intern Michelle Pena-Ortiz shares why she is enjoys working on conservation in our Washington Fish and Wildlife Office in Lacey, Washington.


A ‘WIN/WIN in Downeast Maine’


Serena Doose of the Maine Fishery Resources Office atop a new 8-foot concrete open arch install on a East Machias River tributary. Photo Credit: Scott Craig/USFWS  

We know that collaboration is the way to make conservation happen, especially in this time of tight budgets. In our Northeast Region, we're looking to save resources by training our own folks to do work that we or our partners often have to contract out. This past year, Moosehorn and Aroostook National Wildlife Refuges in Maine provided staff and heavy equipment to help open fish passages in areas off the refuges as part of support of Project SHARE, whose mission is to restore habitat in Atlantic salmon watersheds in Downeast Maine. Staff from the Maine Fishery Resources Office, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program and the Maine Ecological Service Office also lent a hand. As SHARE’s Executive Director Steven Koenig says: “And that’s how we spell WIN/WIN in Downeast Maine!”

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Creating Little Opportunities for Kids to Experience Nature can Spark Interest

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Lorrie Beck
Lorrie shows students a snake.

Until last week, Lorrie Beck was a park ranger at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas and director of the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita, Kansas. She has sadly moved on from her job, where she worked to “create opportunities for the public to learn about the natural resources of Kansas - and the Great Plains - and develop a greater appreciation for our wildlife resources.” But before she left, she shared her thoughts on urban outreach. 

5 questions for Lorrie

1. Why is urban outreach important to you?

I remember when I was a kid - about a million years ago - when climbing trees, making mud pies, riding stick horses and playing outside until dark was "the norm." Now, I'm saddened by the fear that exists with urban young folks, and their parents, with anything outside “the norm": i.e., nature and the out-of-doors. I'd hope young people of today will be as captivated and excited about being outside that I was long ago, but until they experience that joy firsthand, we're going to lose them.


Two of Three Wild-Hatched California Condors Have Fledged in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah

A California condor in flight. Photo Credit: Gary Kramer/USFWS

More than 70 California condors soar through the skies of Arizona and Utah, including two new fledglings. A total of 25 chicks have hatched in the wild since condors were first introduced in Arizona in 1996.

The Peregrine Fund reports that:

Program biologists from The Peregrine Fund and Zion National Park have confirmed that two California condor chicks have left their nests and taken flight in northern Arizona, but hopes of a third chick successfully reaching the fledgling milestone in southern Utah have been dashed by a lack of visual observation. The third chick was Utah’s first wild-hatched condor chick.

 “Although two out of three 2014 condor chicks surviving to fledging remains encouraging, the loss of Utah’s first chick is a hard reminder that critters have a tough go of it in the wild,” says Chris Parish, Condor Program Director for The Peregrine Fund, which manages the wild Arizona-Utah flock.

California condors are an amazing bird, the largest land birds in North America with wingspans up to 10 feet and weighing up to 25 pounds.   Can you imagine seeing these birds flying at speeds up to 55 mph?


Wisdom Lays an Egg


Wisdom can be seen here checking on her newly laid egg. Photo credit: Greg Joder

At 63, most parents are probably going to a few graduations, playing with their grandkids or just relaxing after seeing their children to adulthood. Wisdom isn't most people. In fact, she's an albatross. And at 63, the world’s oldest known, banded, wild bird just laid her newest egg. 

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The 11%: Women in Hunting

Kristin Fritz
Kristin Fritz, assistant refuge and district manager at Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota, after a successful goose hunt. Photo Credit: Brian Simon. 

Hunting has traditionally been a male-dominated activity. According to most recent National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation in 2011, women constitute only 11% of the U.S. hunting population.  With less exposure for this minority group and fewer experienced women to mentor new women, barriers for participation and entry remain high.

One by one, state wildlife agencies have been creating new hunter recruitment programs which are more inclusive or specifically aimed at minority groups, including women, youth and new adult hunters. Many of these programs offer new motivations for hunting and changing the perception behind the hunter and the hunt. They are bringing the concept of hunting for food and empowering hunters to provide sustainable food to their families and communities to the forefront.  This approach, along with emphasizing camaraderie and self-confidence built in hunting, is the heart of a new chapter in hunting. 

Women are challenging hunting as a male-dominated activity with the help of their families and mentors, and new recruitment programs. Joanna Gilkeson of our Midwest Region tracked down Service employees with various levels of hunting experience to ask how they became involved in hunting and why they stay engaged. 

Meet five women who are part of the 11%

Even With Ducks Flipping Out, Duck Banding Taught Stacey Kinney a Lot

Stacey Kinney
Stacey says this is the way she was taught to hold ducks, but she was not comfortable holding the wings like this until she was  "reassured that I couldn’t kill the duck this way."
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. Today’s featured blogger, Stacey Kinney, spent her summer as an SCA intern at the North Mississippi Refuges Complex, which consists of Coldwater River, Tallahatchie and Dahomey National Wildlife Refuges. Stacey is part of the Career Discover Internship Program (Service’s CDIP website), a collaboration between SCA and the Service that’s strengthening the next generation of conservation leaders by connecting culturally and ethnically diverse college students to wildlife-focused career opportunities. Learn more about all of SCA’s programs at www.thesca.org.

As part of my SCA  internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this summer I had the opportunity to join an expedition banding wood ducks at Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge in Lambert, Mississippi. I had a lot to learn about banding birds, but that's OK because I was with a couple of experts: Refuge Manager Amber Breland of Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge and wildlife biologist Becky Rosamond of the North Mississippi Refuges Complex. 


DC Carr Working to Ensure Everyone Has Opportunity to Enjoy Wild Places

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
DC Carr
"Our role is to invite our neighbors in and help them to feel at home in nature."

DC Carr is a Visitor Services Planner for the National Wildlife Refuge System in our Pacific Southwest Region. That means he designs publications, supports nonprofit partners, and develops volunteer programs on refuges throughout the Pacific Southwest Region. He normally works at our Regional Office in Sacramento, California, but sometimes teleworks from his home in inner-city Oakland.

5 Questions for DC

1. Why is urban outreach important to you?

For me, it is a matter of equality and opportunity. The people in my neighborhood deserve the opportunity to have access to the wild places that their tax dollars support. They deserve to walk the ridges, swim the lakes, stalk the game, see the wildlife and picnic in the trees with their families. They deserve it the same as anyone else. In the commotion of the city, though, surrounded by city streets and barriers and grime, it is easy to never see the green fields nearby. Too many decades of racial and cultural division have taught too many of my neighbors that "this grime is yours" and "these green fields belong to those other people." I cannot stop the hurt of microaggression and social injustice today, but I can begin to reveal that the doors are open to the green fields of refuges. The first tiny step in giving them this birthright is in offering a warm invitation. Urban outreach means meeting urban populations where they are and offering this invitation. This is something that I can do. 


We’re Looking for Federal Migratory Bird Stewards

In 2012, APHIS Wildlife Services employee Marie Griffin holds a raptor.(More about her work.) Photo Credit: USDA

Recognizing that bird-aircraft collisions are both costly and potentially deadly,  the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) undertook the project Managing Raptor-Human Conflicts to Promote Safety and Migratory Bird Conservation. The agency has made significant efforts, within the United States, to reduce the frequency and severity of bird-aircraft collisions involving raptors. Many birds were removed from dangerous environments when they are at risk for collisions with aircraft and relocated to areas without this risk of mortality.

For this project, USDA-APHIS earlier this year won the 2014 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award.

We are nearing the deadline for nominations for the 2015 Presidential Migratory Bird Stewardship Award Nomination. It’s January 9. 

The Presidential Migratory Bird Stewardship Award annually recognizes a project or action conducted by or in partnership with a federal agency that contributes to migratory bird conservation. The agency/action demonstrates a leadership role in inspiring others to take action in migratory bird conservation.

For more information:

Finding a Sense of Place in Southern California

With their own pair of wings, imaginations soar as third grade students mimic the California condor, during a Connecting People with Nature program led by the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office. Photo Credit: Mike Glenn/USFWS

At the intersection of abundant wild places, Fillmore, California, elementary students bond with rare wildlife. We work with students across the country to provide hands-on outdoor activities, educational presentations about threatened and endangered wildlife, and field trip opportunities for children of all ages to learn and experience the diverse natural areas and species.

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