Welcome to the New York Field Office of Ecological Services website. We are located in Cortland, New York, including the Long Island Field Office located in Shirley, New York. The Ecological Services function of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for the conservation and restoration of fish and wildlife habitat, especially wetland habitat. Field office biologists investigate the effects of contaminants and the measures and costs of contaminant clean-up, help recover threatened and endangered species, review proposals for wetland alterations from construction, and recommend measures to enhance fish and wildlife resources in conjunction with the licensing of power facilities and other Federal projects such as shoreline protection, storm flooding, etc. Our work with private individuals, organizations, and other State and Federal agencies protects and enhances fish and wildlife habitat on private, State, and Federal lands. The Offices also provide public information about the value and benefits derived from the conservation and restoration of fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats.
Now introducing our 2012 Strategic Habitat Conservation Plan (7.4 Mb) to the public! This is a planbook of office events and goals for various focal areas in New York, each containing representative species that we are working to protect and/or enhance.
12/23/2014 SWG Helps Species The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) revised their list of species of greatest conservation need that will help target conservation efforts to improve habitat and maintain healthy ecosystems (see article here). Since 2010, NYSDEC has received $2.2 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's State Willdife Grants Program and implemented conservation programs such as Eastern hellbender head starting, where young animals are raised in captivity and released to give them a head-start in the wild. The money also supported efforts to manage grasslands and to restore lake sturgeon in a number of waters, including Oneida Lake, the Genesee River, and St. Lawrence River tributaries.
12/9/2014 Rufa Red Knot Listed as Threatened
The rufa subspecies of the red knot now will receive protection as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, the Service announced today. "Unfortunately, this hearty shorebird is no match for the widespread effects of emerging challenges like climate change and coastal development, coupled with the historic impacts of horseshoe crab overharvesting, which have sharply reduced its population in recent decades," said Service Director Dan Ashe. Read more about the bird and its listing on the rufa red knot species profile.
10/3/2014 Grant to fund monitoring rare turtles by air, land, water: Dr. Peter A. Rosenbaum of SUNY Oswego’s biological sciences faculty has won a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant to lead a multidisciplinary team to monitor elusive bog turtles and their habitats at sites in Wayne and Seneca counties. http://www.oswego.edu/news/index.php/site/news_story/preserving_turtles
8/13/2014 Public Information Sessions on Proposal to List The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold three public information webcasts in August to provide information and answer questions about our proposal to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Webcasts will be Tuesday, August 19, at 1 p.m. Eastern; Wednesday, August 20, at 4 p.m. Eastern; and Thursday, August 21, at 7 p.m. Eastern. People can join the 1-hour information sessions by calling a toll-free number and joining a web conference to view a presentation and participate in a facilitated question-and-answer session. More information can be found here.
Some populations of the northern long-eared bat in the Northeast have declined by 99 percent since symptoms of white-nose syndrome were first observed in the winter of 2006-2007. Credit: USFWS
6/19/2014 Wetland Protocol from the Northeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation By neglecting to decontaminate equipment after use in a wetland or stream, people can unknowingly spread aquatic disease-causing pathogens from one body of water to another. Two such pathogens, chytrid fungus and ranavirus, cause high mortality rates in some frog, salamander, and turtle species present in New York. In order to minimize human contribution to the spread of these and any yet unknown diseases, we ask that anyone working or recreating in stream or wetland environments to please implement the decontamination protocols released by the Northeast Partners for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (NEPARC) Disease Working Group.
While these pathogens can also be spread through animal to animal contact, humans can unknowingly transport these pathogens rapidly and across a wide range. Equipment and gear such as boats, nets, waders, calipers, and cameras can become contaminated when exposed to water. If these items are not cleaned and decontaminated after use in particular wetlands or streams, the equipment can spread diseases to the next wetland or stream that is visited.
By making an effort to decontaminate equipment, we can protect the lives of amphibians and reptiles and the stability of their ecosystems. These animals serve important roles as both predators and prey, maintaining the health of their environment. We can thank them for playing a significant role in controlling insect populations. In addition, they are extremely sensitive to environmental factors, serving as indicators of ecosystem health. Decreases in their population can warn us of rising pollution levels and other negative changes that could impact our use of waterways. In order for amphibians and reptiles to continue helping us in these roles, we must play our role in protecting these animals.
4/4/2014 Proposal to Protect Red Knot Reopens for Comment While the rufa red knot population has been relatively stable for the last ten years, it is at a low level and vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as are many other migratory birds. Knot numbers have dropped by about 75 percent in key wintering and stopover areas since the 1980s, with the steepest declines occurring since 2000. Due to such population decline, the Service proposed listing the red knot as threatened under the Endangered Species Act on September 30, 2013.
The reopened comment period from April 4 through May 19 will provide an additional opportunity for the public to submit information on the knot and its habitat and to also provide a review of the Service’s analysis. This process is important so that any final decision made by the Service reflects all of the best science and information available. The Service expects to take final action on the listing rule by the end of September 2014. Read more at http://www.fws.gov/southeast/news/2014/027.html
2/8/2014 Ithaca Children's Garden's Festival of Fire and Ice Outreach Coordinator Andrea Bruns assisted in planning for and producing media coverage at the Ithaca Children's Garden's second annual Festival of Fire and Ice. This event, designed to bring children outdoors during the winter, drew over 500 people to an afternoon of play in the snow-covered gardens.
1/7/2015 Monarch 90-day Finding:Federal Register Link.
This finding contains two petitions, an August 2014 petition to list the plexippus subspecies of the monarch butterfly as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and a delisting petition for the California gnatcatcher. Public Comment Period through March 2, 2015.
12/7/2014 Habitat Restoration for Karner Blue Butterflies
This winter, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will restore 20 acres of land at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park in Saratoga County to suitable Karner blue butterfly habitat. This addition will send the preserve above its half way mark en route to a 320 acre restoration goal. Between the continued addition of habitat and captive management efforts, Karner populations are on their way to recovery in New York State! Read the full story here.
Credit: Joel Trick, USFWS
11/3/2014 Recovery Report to Congress The Report to Congress on the Recovery of Threatened and Endangered Species for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 has been released to the public and can be read here:
10/3/2014 GLRI continues for another 5 years!
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world — to provide additional resources to make progress toward the most critical long-term goals for this important ecosystem. In 2013, commitment for the next five years, 2015-2019, of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative work was announced. The September 2014 Action Plan provides details on the actions to occur over the next five years: Federal agencies plan to continue to use Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and to accelerate progress toward long term goals—by combining Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources with agency base budgets and by using these resources to work with nonfederal partners to implement protection and restoration projects. Read more in our pdf. Also see the EPA GLRI Action Plan II pdf (5 MB)
7/22/2014 Looking for Onondaga Lake Restoration Projects The Onondaga Lake Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees are looking for restoration projects. Please send us your ideas on how to restore habitat and enhance human use of Onondaga Lake and its watershed. For more information, see the Fact Sheet and Restoration Suggestion form at our Onondaga Lake NRDA Page.
6/2/2014 Fire Island Inlet to Moriches Inlet stabilization project receives biological opinion concluding project will not jeopardize endangered species: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed its review of the Fire Island Inlet to Moriches Inlet stabilization project and submitted the biological opinion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The biological opinion, developed to fulfill the Corps' obligations under the Endangered Species Act, analyzes the possible effects of the project to the threatened piping plover and other protected species. It also outlines measures that the Corps and other agencies will implement to minimize or mitigate for those effects. The Service concluded that while project activities will affect piping plovers, the project will not jeopardize the continued existence of this species. News release Biological opinion (6MB pdf) Army Corps of Engineers Fire Island site
5/14/2014 Collaborative Testing for Contaminants of Emerging Concern The spring of 2014 marks the fifth consecutive year in which NYFO has coordinated multimedia sampling (water, fish, sediment) within the Great Lakes watershed of New York State as part of a study of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) in aquatic systems across the Great Lakes Basin. This year in New York, the project was conducted as a collaborative effort between NYFO, FWS Region 3 central office, the FWS Ohio Field Office, FWS Lamar Fish Health Lab, USGS, and St. Cloud State University, MN. Teams conducted sampling in a 60 mile stretch of the Raquette River and Tupper Lake system and deployed an in-situ experiment, exposing previously unexposed fish to ambient contaminant levels for a known duration. Water grab samples will be evaluated for CEC concentration, passive water sampling devices will be used to estimate cumulative CEC exposure during the in-situ experiment, fish will be evaluated for indicators of CEC exposure and adverse effects, and fish tissue was collected for determination of CEC body burdens.
5/1/2014 Service Announces Completion of National Wetlands Database and Interactive Mapping Tool To coincide with the start of American Wetlands Month, the Service is announcing the completion of the most comprehensive and detailed U.S. wetland data set ever produced. The Wetlands Inventory Mapper has digitally mapped wetlands in the lower 48 states, Hawaii and dependent territories, as well as 35% of Alaska, as an aid to landowners, developers, government planners and permitting authorities, conservation organizations, and academic institutions in their collective efforts to ensure wetland conservation and inform development. Learn more here or try the map for yourself.
3/10/2014 Commencing Eel Behavioral Research The Eel Passage Research Center Technical
Team met to review study proposals. The team
tentatively selected a proposal to update the 2009 white
paper on use of light to guide American eels and
another proposal to test various behavioral cues (such
as electricity, electromagnetic fields, sound and
vibration, and velocity gradients) to determine their
applicability to American eels. After some minor
modifications, the Executive Team is expected to sign
off on the proposals and EPRI will award the contracts
so that work can commence in 2014. This is the
culmination of 10 years of cooperation between the
Service, NYSDEC, and our Canadian partners and utilities to address downstream eel passage issues
on the St. Lawrence River.
12/18/2014 Conservation Easement Gives Karner Blue and Frosted Elfin Butterflies Protected Room to Flourish Conservation efforts throughout the endangered Karner blue butterfly’s range have ramped up in the past couple decades, with New York leading the way. The rare butterfly will now have protected habitat through a 5-acre conservation easement in Queensbury provided by utility National Grid. The easement is part of the company’s 50-year habitat conservation plan, approved by the Service and state in 2012 and the first such plan put forward by a Northeast utility. For further information, read the full press release.
10/29/2014: National Bat Week! This week is National Bat Week, a celebration of bats led by the Organization for Bat Conservation with close collaboration from Bat Conservation International and the U.S. Forest Service. To promote public awareness about the current plight of bats, conservation groups are joining forces. The team even found allies in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" cast and crew members Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, and Zack Snyder! For more National Bat Week news and fun, follow us on Facebook!
7/22/2014 Looking for Your Comments on the Service's Proposed Policy for Voluntary Conservation Actions for At-Risk Species On July 22, 2014, the Service published a proposed policy that would give landowners credit for voluntary conservation actions for at-risk species. This policy is available for comment until September 22, 2014. For more information about this policy, see the Service's website on improving Endangered Species Act implementation and the Federal Register notice (pdf).
6/24/2014 Northern long-eared bat 6-month extension on final determination: On June 24, 2014, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced a 6-month extension for making a final determination on listing the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) as endangered. With the extension, the Service will make a final decision on listing the northern long-eared bat no later than April 2, 2015. As part of the extension, the Service is also reopening a 60-day public comment period and seeks input from states, tribes, Federal agencies, and other stakeholders about the status of the northern long-eared bat. In addition, the Service encourages interested parties to work with the Service on issues such as forest management and bat conservation.
The 60-day comment period begins when the notice is published in the Federal Register, which we anticipate happening soon. More information about the proposal to list the northern long-eared bat can be found on our website at www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered
6/16/2014 Partnership for Snail Restoration With funding from NYFO and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants, SUNY-Environmental Science and Forestry is embarking on the essential next step toward restoring the Chittenango ovate amber snail (COAS) population. This summer, master of science candidate Cody Gilbertson will bring 10 of these federally protected snails into carefully controlled conditions to begin the process of captive rearing. The success of this effort will not only provide the opportunity to play a further active role in bolstering COAS populations, but will also create a new means of outreach. In the long-term, we hope to establish captive colonies at both Rosamond Gifford Zoo and Seneca Park Zoo to raise awareness of this snail.
Image by Kirstin Breisch Russell
5/20/2014 Whitenose Syndrome video featuring New York Field Office Staff:
5/19/2014Rufa Red Knot Federal Register Notice: We are holding a second public hearing in North Carolina. A public informational session will be held immediately preceding the public hearing. Extending the comment period until June 15, 2014, will allow all interested parties an opportunity to attend the second North Carolina public hearing and provide testimony and additional comments on the proposed rufa red knot listing. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted, as they will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.
4/14/2014 North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative Find out about what the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative has been doing. They just released their 2013 highlights report:
The Service met with Brookfield Hydro and their consultants regarding design of New York's first natural channel fishway, part of the Eel Weir development (part of the Oswegatchie River Project). Species such as
American eel, lake sturgeon, walleye, muskellunge, northern pike, white sucker, and redhorses are expected to utilize this fishway for both upstream and downstream passage.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
January 7, 2015
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.