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A Talk on the Wild Side.

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.


Where Do You Find 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.  


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.")

Bob Snow is Ensuring Ginseng, Other Wildlife Resources are Here for Future Generations

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Mature American ginseng plant with berries. No photos of Bob because of his undercover work. Photo Credit: Gary Kauffman/U.S. Forest Service

Bob Snow is a Senior Special Agent assigned to Louisville, Kentucky, and has been with the Service for over 21 years.  While in college he interned for the Chesapeake Bay Estuary Program in Maryland, worked as a Refuge Law Enforcement Officer in Virginia, Washington, Oregon and Florida, and has served as a Special Agent with the Office of Law Enforcement since 1998 when he was assigned to San Francisco.  In recent years SA Snow has tackled wild ginseng poaching in Kentucky. 

5 Questions for Bob 

1. What inspired you to work on this issue?

Ginseng has long been used for medicine, originally harvested by many different Native American tribes and used in Asian medicinal products. Photo Credit: Andrea Ottesen

One could argue that wild ginseng is one of the most valuable natural resources found in deep Appalachia and other rural areas of Kentucky. Harvesters bring in an estimated cash income of $8 million to $10 million annually. The root has been sought in Southeast Asia for centuries and was even harvested by Daniel Boone to supplement his income after he discovered passage to Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap (now a National Park with a ginseng poaching problem).  This history as well as the lack of regulatory enforcement inspired me to ensure the trafficking of this rare plant does not result in its extinction. 

Because the export of wild ginseng is regulated through the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), states with ginseng populations are required to implement harvest and certification programs before the state’s ginseng can be exported from the United States.  These programs are meant to ensure that the harvest remains sustainable.  Seasons are established to ensure that a ginseng plant has matured and produced seeds before its harvest.  As a result, if regulations are complied with there should always be a sustainable source of this valuable root in Kentucky and elsewhere.


Service Wildlife Inspectors, Wildlife Repository Featured on NPR Morning Edition

Naimah Aziz inspects a legal shipment of wildlife products. Photo Credit: Catherine J. Hibbard/USFWS

In December, National Public Radio foreign affairs correspondent Jackie Northam visited Service Law Enforcement Operations as part of a story she was covering on the Trans-Pacific Partnership international trade agreement. She shadowed supervisory wildlife inspector Naimah Aziz on a visit to the international mail facility at John F. Kennedy Airport and visited the National Wildlife Property Repository on the outskirts of Denver. The story aired today on Morning Edition.

Ducks Unlimited Profiles One of our Public Affairs Officers

Brent Lawrence

Brent Lawrence, public affairs officer with our Pacific Region in Portland, Oregon, chats with DU about hunting and more.


Whiskey Creek Gila Trout Lineage Rescued from Fire are Returned to the Wild

 In the winter 2013 issue, Fish & Wildlife News told the story of a team of Service employees and dedicated partners who went into a burn zone to rescue threatened and endangered fish as a lightning-caused wildfire bore down on them.

In October, the Service conducted the first reintroduction of Whiskey Creek Gila trout into the Gila Wilderness, from progeny of the rescued fish.

Nearly 350 Gil trout were rescued from ash and sediment forming in Langstroth and Whiskey creeks. The Gila trout were sent to the Mora National Fish Hatchery, the New Mexico Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office. Other rescued fish, including the endangered spikedace and loach minnow, went to Dexter National Fish Hatchery.  

The Gila trout facilities were specially designed to mimic the natural habitat of the species as closely as possible, which allowed the species to thrive in the hatchery environment.  Watch the video to see!

Learn more about the recovery efforts:

Service Programs, Partners Join Together to Save Iowa Pleistocene Snail

Iowa Pleistocene Snail
The Iowa Pleistocene Snail. Photo Credit: Lisa Maas/USFWS

The latest issue of Fish & Wildlife News features several stories on our work across programs and with outside partners to conserve the land. As Jude Smith, the manager of a complex of national wildlife refuges in New Mexico and Texas and one of the focuses of a story in the News, put it: “Whatever we are doing on the refuge complex, I’m considering how we can take the benefits and knowledge we have gained to surrounding landowners on the larger landscape. This complex is too small to make the big difference for wildlife that we are after.” More than 70% of the land in this country is privately owned, so we look beyond our borders to conserve wild things and wild places. In the magazine, Lisa Maas, Tamra Lewis and Drew Becker tell you about this collaborative effort to recover the Iowa Pleistocene Snail.

A Snail’s Journey to Recovery

Ready.  Set.  Search!  The snail technicians begin a timed search, rifling through leaf litter in front of cold air vents on a steep hillside.  Some wear gloves to protect fingers from stinging nettles and cold air blowing out of the vents.  One dons a headlamp to get a better look inside a deep vent.  “Found one!” another yells, excitedly.   

They are on an ecological treasure hunt to find the elusive and federally protected Iowa Pleistocene snail.  Their work is part of a cooperative recovery effort between the Rock Island Ecological Services Field Office and Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge.  Their goal:  to recover the snail, a species reminiscent of another age. 


Service Botanist Discovers Native Colorado Flower

Service botanist Gina Glenne enters GPS coordinates as Duane Atwood heads to a survey spot
Service botanist Gina Glenne enters GPS coordinates as Duane Atwood heads to a survey spot. Photo Credit: USFWS

Leith Edgar, now in External Affairs in our Pacific Region, tells us about a cool discovery by one of our botanists.

“Look, but don’t touch the flowers,” is something Gina Glenne, a Service botanist, frequently reminds herself when working with certain native plants in Colorado. 

Unfortunately for Glenne, the glandular hairs of some phacelia, a common flower genus of the western United States, give her an allergic reaction. The resulting rash for some people is more extreme than exposure to poison ivy or oak. In Glenne’s case, more than five years of handling phacelia species in Oregon, Nevada, Idaho and Colorado has resulted in heightened sensitivity to all species of phacelia, and she breaks out in a rash that’s worse than poison ivy and lasts longer. 

So when Glenne observed an unusual plant growing in the midst of Penland, or Kremmling penstemon, during a 2009 phacelia taxonomy project, she kept her hands to herself. 


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