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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Building a Better Beach

At Gulf Shores Plantation, a wooden boardwalk has always been the gateway between condominiums and the sandy white beaches of the Fort Morgan peninsula.

As vacationers happily cross the boardwalk to reach the Gulf of Mexico, they are able to view sand dunes, which act as valuable habitat for creatures, such as beach mice, sea turtles, and shore birds.

For years, residents have been co-existing with wildlife habitat -- enjoying nature’s gifts and working with us to help stop their extinction.

But in 2004, Hurricane Ivan wiped out that boardwalk, along with sand dunes on the beach. When it was rebuilt, it sat too low on the flattened beach.

As the dunes began to rebuild, they didn’t have any vegetation, making them unstable. Soon, winds covered the boardwalk with sand. Many vacationers and snow birds had no access to the beach.

dune_rebuild(Photo: USFWS)

“We have a lot of elderly and disabled people who rely on that boardwalk. But when the sand overtook it, access to the beach was cut off,” explained Boardwalk Committee Chairman Robert Bush. “Mothers couldn’t even push strollers over the thick sand.”


Good Recovery Stories from the Golden State

By Brynn Walling, USFWS

We are now four months into our year-long commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, and this week we’re highlighting the state with the highest number of endangered and threatened animals — California.

You may already know about some of the rare animals of the Golden State, like the California condor or the desert tortoise, but there are hundreds of unique species that call this state home — many of them occur nowhere else in the world!

fairy_shrimpThe vernal pool fairy shrimp. (Photo: Dwight Harvey/USFWS)

An example is vernal pool fairy shrimp. Like its name suggests, this tiny crustacean lives in vernal pools, some as small as a puddle, and others the size of a small lake. The term ‘fairy’ comes from its ability to gracefully swim on its back. Actually, you will only find this species swimming on their back!


Refuge Law Enforcement Officers Help Protect Our Prairies

By Tina Shaw and Jeff Lucas, USFWS

If you fill it, they will come.

Minnesota’s wetlands and prairies saw a victory recently as a wetland easement violator was sentenced for illegal development activities on a federally protected wetland basin in central Minnesota.

The Minnesota man was sentenced March 27, 2013 for constructing a road through a wetland that he knew was a federally protected basin. United States Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois sentenced James Bosek to two years of probation on one misdemeanor count of filling a wetland that was subject to a federal easement under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act.

“Wetlands are essential buffers during annual high water events as we head into the spring melt and every acre we can keep as undeveloped wetland and prairie habitat helps buffer everyone’s land.” explains Fergus Falls Wetland Management District (WMD) project leader Larry Martin.

wetlandFBThe Prairie Pothole Region is dotted with small wetlands that are interspersed with prairie. Habitat like this is important to wildlife and people alike. (Photo: USFWS)

Judge Brisbois told Bosek in court that the restoration of the wetland is the only way to “undo the injury to the public interest.” So, he fined Bosek $2,500, but said if the restoration is satisfactorily completed by March 31, 2014, the fine will be waived.


Careers in Conservation: Archivist Preserves Service History

By Craig Springer, USFWS 

You can see the pattern: vocare, vocal, vocation. What one chooses to do for a living is a calling. It’s rooted in the Latin, vocare, “to be called to do something.” And so it was for Randi Sue Smith of Spearfish, South Dakota, that she would become an archivist at one of the most unusual field stations of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Smith would be the first to tell you that knowing the present means knowing history.

Randi Sue Smith is passionate about the past -- and the Service's future. (Photo: USFWS)

She works at the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives. The facility holds some 175,000 objects and documents from all over the country, all dealing with fisheries conservation. And all that important historical matter needs a curator.

It’s where Smith makes her mark.


Service Refuge Law Enforcement Visits Remote Alaska School

By Tim Bennett, USFWS

All Refuge Law Enforcement officers in Alaska take time to visit local schools to let the children know that officers are just people like everyone else.

Too often rural Alaska kids see us only when we’re on duty, which tends to make them believe that all we ever do is "be mean and give tickets."

I wanted to show them that we’re friendly and helpful, and always glad when anyone comes up to chat with us.

alaska_visitThe students take the time to see all gear and furs shown by Officer Bennett. (Photo: USFWS)

After all, our officers and rural Alaskans share a belief in taking care of the environment and our resources.


Careers in Conservation: Outdoor Opportunities Encouraged Curiosity

By Ann Gannam, USFWS

Growing up with many outdoor opportunities drove my curiosity to find out more about my surroundings.

Weekend and summer camping trips; Sunday picnics, usually to a beach; even early morning trips to the river for breakfast picnics before school, all of these experiences fueled my desire to continue to acquire information and knowledge about the environment in which we live and about the organisms that share it with us. My parents encouraged me and provided opportunities for me to learn.

Playing and learning outdoors inspired Service employee Ann Gannam, seen here working. (Photo: USFWS)


Barrier Beach Restoration Benefits Everyone

By Brynn Walling USFWS

Who, what, when, where, why, and how?

We have all the answers for you regarding the Barrier Beach Restoration Project on Long Beach West in Stratford, Connecticut

longbeachLong Beach faced stormy times, but has since been restored. (Photo: USFWS)

Long Beach was once a bustling summer community, with dozens of summer cottages. In 1996, a fire burnt down the bridge connecting the beach to the mainland. Thereafter the cottages remained vacant.


UPDATE: Rescued Polar Bear Cub Settles into New Home

By Eileen Floyd

Polar bear cub Kali’s journey began on a dark note -- his mother was shot under circumstances that are now under investigation by Service Law Enforcement.

Thanks to the efforts of many, however, this orphan from the Point Lay area arrived at the Alaska Zoo near midnight on March 12, on an Alaska Airlines flight from Barrow.

polar_bear1En route to Anchorage, Kali peers out of his transport case at a mystifying world. (Photo: John Gomes/Alaska Zoo)

The cub, believed to be three to four months old, weighed 18.4 pounds. Kali (pronounced “Cully,” the Inupiat name for Pt. Lay) appeared to be in good shape and, during his first night at the zoo, took in about 105 ml of formula.


Conservation Conference Round-Up

On March 15, 2013, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) wrapped up its 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16).

The meeting brought together representatives from more than 150 countries to discuss current issues in wildlife trade. As a Party (member country) to CITES, the United States submitted several proposals to increase protections for native and foreign species as well as multiple resolutions to streamline and strengthen the implementation of CITES.

sharkScalloped Hammerhead. (Photo: NOAA)

CoP16 was an overwhelming success with many U.S. priority issues receiving attention. Here are some exciting highlights of progress made at CoP16:


Dragonflies Drive Dedicated Fans to Refuges

They’re not dragons, and they’re not flies.

But they boast a swelling fan base.

You might call dragonflies the stunt pilots of the insect world. They wear flashy colors, dart at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, boast ancestors that predate dinosaurs ... and they even mate in mid-air.

dragonfliesGreen darner dragonflies at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo: J.N. Stuart/Creative Commons)

These are just some of the reasons that the insects are gaining attention, both on and off national wildlife refuges. Dragonfly festivals are popping up across the country and a crop of new field guides are making the rounds around American towns and cities.


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