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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

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. 


Alyssa Stegmaier Wants to Get Kids Excited by Macroinvertebrates

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, Alyssa Stegmaier checks in from Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Brigham City, Utah. 

Alyssa holds a kick net to catch aquatic macroinvertebrates.

Here at Bear River, I have had the opportunity to connect with even the smallest types of wildlife. One of the coolest things I have gotten to do during my time here as a “Park Ranger/Environmental Education Specialist” is run the Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Station for the Mountain Wild to Wetland Wonders program, MWWW, for short. Aquatic Macroinvertebrates are creatures living in and around water with no backbone that you can see with the naked eye, and MWWW, a partnership between Bear River and Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area, immerses area fourth-graders in hands-on nature experiences, like finding macroinvertebrates, through a series of field trips.


Urban Refuges Make it Easier for All People to Get their ‘Nature Fix’

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Debbie Pike
Debbie Pike uses archery as an outreach tool.

Debbie Pike is the Visitors Services Manager for Northern New Mexico National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Las Vegas, Rio Mora and Maxwell National Wildlife Refuges).  “I work with a ‘high energy’ Friends group that volunteers for events for the public and educational programs.  Without this enthusiastic group of people, grabbing the ideas I come up with and running, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish all of the outreach and education that we do in this area of New Mexico.   Two years ago we began our adventure with the urban initiative by becoming a part of our community garden, planting a one-acre pollinator garden at the refuge and even going to Albuquerque’s community farm.  Through the work we have completed and the projects we are planning (schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens at two schools and one university in 2015) we are expressing the importance of these small sanctuaries within an urban setting.”

 5 Questions for Debbie

1. Why is urban outreach important to you?

I was raised in urban areas but spent three high school years surrounded by trees in the Arkansas Ozarks.   My parents had moved from Phoenix, Arizona, to a farm surrounded by large wooded areas and wide open fields.   At the time, I remember feeling isolated on top of our mountain, where our nearest neighbor was over two miles down a winding dirt road, where the skyscrapers had been replaced by large oak trees, and where the pigeons were replaced by red tailed hawks and vultures.  But then I discovered a sense of freedom and peacefulness as I explored the creek that flowed through our property and the fields full of native plants.  I was able to step out my backdoor and view an abundance of deer foraging amongst the leaves on the ground and squirrels hopping from limb to limb overhead.  I remember the sense of discovery when my mom would point out a new type of plant that we hadn’t noticed on a previous gathering.   After three years, I left the mountain and headed back to urban life in Frankfurt, Germany.  I started missing the mountain sometime during that first year in Frankfurt. 


Service Hatchery Helps Washington Replace Salmon

coho eggs
Eyed coho salmon eggs. Photo Credit: USFWS

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) went looking for a few good salmon eggs, and a Service fish hatchery answered the call.

Throughout the Northwest, people depend on salmon – for food, work and play. So when a heavy rainstorm last week wiped out 600,000 coho salmon fry at state-run Grays River Hatchery in Washington, managers knew they had to act quickly and they asked area hatcheries for surplus coho eggs.

On Tuesday, our Eagle Creek Hatchery in Oregon sent 351,000 eyed coho eggs to Grays River.


Keep the 'Wild' in Wildlife: Don’t Touch or Feed

Fawns are often left alone for hours, but that does not mean they're orphaned.  Photo Credit: USFWS

People often think doing nothing is quite easy, but sometimes it can be awfully hard. Many of us want to help wildlife when they appear to be in trouble, but in some cases, we need to redirect these instincts.

Generally, the best thing to do is leave the animal alone. This protects both you and the animal.


Fred Bagley Witnessed the Growth of Home-grown Conservationists in Asia

Fred Bagley
Fred and colleague Cory Brown view some of India’s wildlife during a field assessment of a project working to mitigate human-big cat conflicts. Photo Credit: Harshawardhan Dhanwatey, Tiger Research and Conservation Trust

For Fred Bagley, who retired recently after 37 years with the Service – most in the Division of International Conservation administering programs aimed at development of wildlife conservation capacity in Asia – one change stands out.

Fred got his start with the Service as a biologist in the Southeast United States, working on recovery of such species as the bald eagle, gray bat, Ozark and Virginia big-eared bats, Alabama cavefish, watercress and bayou darters, red hill salamander and Alabama red-bellied turtle.

“When I first started working with the Service’s international program in 1989, there was really a need for transfer of knowledge and technical skills. Conservationists in Asia needed help from the outside.” His first international project was to strengthen the training and research capacity of the faculty of India’s wildlife institute, which India established in 1982. 

Now, he says, “There are many more well-prepared wildlife conservationists working in Asia, many of them trained by the Wildlife Institute of India.”

“Capacity development continues to be a major focus of Service programs,” Fred says, but “the financial assistance the Service provides with the Multinational Species Conservation funds is very important to the support of on-the-ground conservation initiatives in Asian countries.”


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