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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

In Tragedy’s Aftermath, a Gift from Above

The following story by is reprinted from Fish & Wildlife News.

Ed Ryan was beat.

His weariness belied the usual appearance of a man with the blond, clean-cut looks of a middle-aged movie star. He had just spent the previous month working a major case, in 12-hour shifts, without a break.

Ryan had devoted much of his career to chasing bank robbers, inner city gangbangers and drug kingpins, most of it in the gritty port city of Baltimore. Yet he’d never lost his understated and self-effacing manner (“The bad guys call me ‘Agent Ryan.’ But with my friends, it’s ‘Ed.’”).

But this crime was different, and its physical and emotional impacts had taken their toll. Dog-tired, Ed Ryan needed down-time to decompress, to retreat temporarily from the most momentous investigation of his career – sifting through the chaotic aftermath of American Flight 77’s crash into the Pentagon.


Stamp Out Extinction


The Save Vanishing Species Stamp features a drawing of an Amur tiger cub by artist Nancy Stahl and costs a little more than a normal stamp, but the extra goes to international conservation. And the extra adds up! The stamp has already generated more than $2.5 million for international conservation from the sale of 25.5 million stamps. Plus, it has brought in $3.6 million in matching funds. Projects in more than 30 countries have received funding from the Save Vanishing Species Stamp.

We aren't forgetting the animal that graces the stamp either. In Russia, we are helping enhance anti-poaching efforts of the Amur tiger. Grant funds support development and implementation of a camera surveillance system to help monitor and combat poaching in critical tiger habitat.

Just yesterday, Congress reauthorized the sale of the stamps. That means that soon, in addition to sending a letter, you can also once again help tigers, elephants, great apes, rhinos, gorillas, chimpanzees and sea turtles.

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'Wild thing…you make my heart sing'

Summer in Izembek Wilderness in Alaska. Credit: John Sarvis

No, it is not likely the Troggs had plants,fish and animals on their minds when they performed Wild Thing. But as Service historian Mark Madison says, the song sums up American feelings about wilderness and the just-turned-50 Wilderness Act. His essay is a fitting end to a week of celebration of the Wilderness Act.

Read the full essay

Damages Assessed, NRDAR Program, Partners Restore Colorado’s Upper Arkansas River Basin

Our Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) teams work with many stakeholders to bring habitat back to life, for fish, wildlife and people!

This article comes from the spring edition of the Fish & Wildlife News.


A fisherman tries his luck amid the restoration equipment. Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

For more than a century, waste from historic mines leached into adjacent lands and waters of the Arkansas River, contaminating more than 15 square miles of the upper Arkansas River Basin in Lake County, Colorado, which includes the California Gulch Superfund site. The mining waste posed a serious threat to human health and safety because heavy metals, including lead, seeped into drinking water sources and soil. The heavy metals also injured such wildlife as the American dipper, tree swallow and brown trout, and their supporting habitats.


Don't Let the Name Fool You, Eelgrass is Vital along the Central California Coast

More than 200 volunteers assisted in the 2014 Morro Bay Eelgrass Recovery project. Photo courtesy of Morro Bay National Estuary Program

It may sound a little gross, but eelgrass is an important part of the coastal ecosystem of central California’s Morro Bay. “Maintaining Morro Bay’s eelgrass beds into the future is vital not only for Morro Bay’s resident fish and wildlife, but for migratory species like brant as well,” says the Service’s Mary Root. People, too. Eelgrass improves water clarity and quality, filters polluted runoff, absorbs excess nutrients and stores carbon dioxide.Together with the Morro Bay National Estuary Program and other conservation partners, we are helping restore eelgrass to Morro Bay.

Read the Full Story


The Lorax and the Many Faces of Wilderness

Are those prairie forbs or baby Truffula trees at Lostwood Wilderness in North Dakota? Credit: Wilderness.net

Ryan Moehring of our Mountain-Prairie Region found himself thinking about Dr. Seuss' The Lorax on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The act's legacy "would have made even the Lorax proud," he writes.

Read his full essay

Wilderness Act Turns 50

Fifty years ago today (Sept. 3) President Lyndon Johnson signed into law The Wilderness Act, which preserves lands that are some of our greatest national treasures. The lands are left in, or restored to, their natural state and man is just a visitor to them who leaves no imprint. As such, Wilderness offers unparalleled chances for solitude.

MORE: The Service Celebrates | Refuge Wilderness | 50th Anniversary

Credit: USFWS

Can you imagine being the only one for as far as the eye can see, like this hiker in Andreafsky Wilderness in Alaska? (Well, except for the photographer.) More than half of the acreage in the National Wilderness Preservation System lies in Alaska.


‘eHarmony for Birds’: A Science – and an Art – to Saving Parrots

On Tuesday we learned that two Puerto Rican parrots were born in the wild in a natural nest cavity and later fledged –the first time this has happened outside El Yunque National Forest in more than 100 years. Puerto Rican parrots have always been found in El Yunque, but a second population was started in Río Abajo State Forest in the 1990s. And the nesting cavity was just outside Rio Abajo. With Puerto Rico and other partners, we have been working toward a self-sufficient parrot population in the wild for more than 40 years.

In celebration, Open Spaces reprints a story from last summer’s Fish & Wildlife News.


Puerto Rican parrots
The population of parrots was once estimated at a million but fell to less than 30. Credit: Tom MacKenzie/USFWS


At the Service’s Iguaca Aviary in Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest, the science that is saving the rare Puerto Rican parrot from extinction is everywhere on display: in the wall of TV monitors that relay images from cameras hidden in each breeding pair’s nest cavity; in the sleek emergency care center, where sick birds can be quickly isolated and undergo surgery if needed; in the meticulous record-keeping on each bird’s history, behavior and genetics.


The Building Blocks of Women Scientists

Sarah Inouye-Leas built in LEGO. Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS. Taking a cue from toymaker LEGO, which recently introduced a Research Institute set featuring female scientists, folks in our Midwest Region dug out their LEGOs and created their own set of women scientists at the Service. Find new figures every day this week.

Biologists in Alabama Study Up for Bird Survey

Posting signs
Service biologist Matt Laschet and Kelly Reetz with Alabama Gulf State Park post educational bird signs on the beach. Credit: Dianne Ingram/USFWS

The Alabama Gulf Coast has always been an attractive destination for tourists and migratory birds alike, so the Service’s Alabama Ecological Services Field Office takes part in the annual North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS).  Although they are still compiling and analyzing the 2014 data, biologists learned a lot from last year’s survey.

In 2013, biologists conducted surveys on five 24.5-mile routes in Baldwin and Mobile counties with survey points every half-mile. More than 100 survey routes may eventually be completed annually in Alabama.


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