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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

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. 

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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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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. 

Macroinvertebrates
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.

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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. 

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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.

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

fawn
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.

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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.

EARLY WORK
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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Loose Lips Sink Ships and Poachers

Rhino
Tod Navarro’s truck along with three illegally killed mountain lions in Idaho. Photo provided by USFWS.

There is a very keen social aspect to hunting, and that is where some poaching schemes fall apart. "What’s the good of having a trophy if you can’t talk about it?" asks a blog from our Pacific Region about an illegal mountain lion hunt that quickly fell apart.

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Connection with Nature Can Happen Anywhere, Even in a City

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Georgia Basso
Georgia Basso and local students monitor biodiversity changes at habitat restoration sites throughout the city. Photo Credit: Common Ground

Georgia Basso is a wildlife biologist  in our Coastal Program and the Service’s liaison to the Long Island Sound Study, an EPA National Estuary Program to restore and protect the Sound.  The Long Island Sound region is an area of exceptional ecological value and high human density. As such, Georgia’s day are a blend of  science, human dimensions and ecosystem management. In a typical day she might meet with the New Haven Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership leadership team, coordinate coastal habitat restoration projects, work with species experts to assess habitat quality in the Long Island Sound area, organize Habitat Restoration and Stewardship Workgroup meetings, or partner with urban students to design and monitor habitat restoration sites on their school grounds or in their city.

5 Questions for Georgia

1. Why is urban outreach important to you?

If those of us working for the Service close our eyes and think about what first sparked our interest in doing what we do, many of us would recollect an early childhood experience in nature. Studies show that children create a meaningful bond with the environment in their early years. Even if they don’t pursue environmental career paths down the road, if this bond is formed, they go on to be environmental stewards throughout their lives. With more of our population spending an increased amount of time separated from nature, the likelihood of the next generation forming this bond decreases. The future of environmental stewardship rests on people feeling a connection with nature. Urban outreach can help create these connections. 

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For Ricky Campbell, Hunting and Fishing is All About Family

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Ricky Campbell
  Ricky Campbell: “I don't guess I grew up around anyone who did not hunt and fish.”

Ricky Campbell is the Hatchery Manager at Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery (NFH) in Tupelo, Mississippi. The hatchery has 15 ponds and raises about 5 million fish every year, including Gulf Coast walleye, paddlefish, alligator gar, lake sturgeon, striped and largemouth bass, and bluegill. Private John Allen NFH also raises a variety of fish specifically to host the parasitic stage of mussels.

5 Questions for Ricky

1. Do you hunt/fish and if so what?

I’ll respond with a very simple and solid YES. I think that I have hunted and fished for every legal game animal and fish that swims, climbs, runs, walks or flies near the ground in the United States. My favorite at the moment is squirrel for hunting and flathead catfish and bream for fishing. They are what is in season at the moment and/or offer the best opportunity for success.

2. Who got you into fishing or hunting?

I would have to say that my mom and dad both exposed me to the outdoors at an early age and provided the positive experiences that entrenched hunting into my very being. I can remember riding on my dad’s shoulders as a little boy following a pack of beagles while rabbit hunting. I also remember the long hikes to Yanabee Creek in Mississippi, where I learned to cast a plastic worm and catch largemouth bass. I don't guess I grew up around anyone who did not hunt and fish. My grandma and my mom were both hunters and fisherwomen, as were my aunts, uncles, cousins and all my neighbors. My grandpa turned me on to night hunting when I was 12. Coon hunting was both a passion of his and a way to support his family for 50 years or more. He helped organize the American Coon Hunters Association (ACHA) and won the first World Championship Wild Coon Hunt in 1948. 

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