Summary and Highlights
A message from the field
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is the principle federal agency protecting and sustaining our Nation’s fish and wildlife resources. It is a big responsibility that we clearly cannot accomplish by ourselves or all at once. So, we rely heavily on our many partners in conservation and we focus our efforts on those actions and issues that are deemed to be the highest priority. In central and eastern North Carolina, the Raleigh Ecological Services Field Office (RFO) uses a 5-year Strategic Plan and Annual Work Plan to guide our conservation work. The following report summarizes our accomplishments for federal Fiscal Year 2013 (October 2012 through September 2013) and identifies some of the work that is part of the Annual Work Plan for FY – 2014.
In 2013 the Service faced greater than normal challenges related to budget and staffing constraints, and the RFO was no exception. Despite this, we were able to achieve many significant conservation milestones. While the full body of work of the RFO is discussed in greater detail in the body of this report the following actions are among the most noteworthy and are organized in terms of the five goals of our Field Office Strategic Plan.
We worked with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC), North Carolina State University (NCSU) and other partners to successfully grow the magnificent ramshorn snail in captivity. This snail may be extinct in the wild and successful captive propagation is a vital first step to its survival and restoration.
We worked with the town of Troy, American Rivers, the Piedmont Conservation Council and other partners to remove Lassiter Mill Dam on the Uwharrie River and Smitherman’s dam in the Yadkin–Pee Dee River Basin. These projects restored and improved 347 miles of river habitat for the benefit of many at-risk aquatic species including Carolina redhorse and Atlantic pigtoe.
Goal 2. Conserving Migratory birds
We worked with an array of partners and private landowners to restore 909 acres of longleaf pine habitat for the benefit of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) and other priority migratory birds such as Bachman’s sparrow, brown-headed nuthatch, and pine warbler. Read more
Goal 3. Conserving Migratory fish
We worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and many other partners to develop the Cape Fear River Action Plan for Migratory Fish (link).
We celebrated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and many other partners upon the completion of the rock arch weir fish passage structure on Cape Fear River Lock and Dam #1. This structure improved access to over 100 miles of spawning habitat for striped bass, American shad and the endangered Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon.
We continue to work with WRC, NMFS, and Dominion Power to restore diadromous species (fish that migrate between fresh and salt waters) on the Roanoke River. Over 800,000 American eels passed over Roanoke Rapids dam in 2013 and the numbers of American shad on the spawning grounds continue to increase. Read more
We worked with the staff at Pocosin Lakes NWR and restored 830 acres of peatland wetlands using funds we provided last year.
We also worked with the U.S. Geological Survey and others to strategically assess water quality issues affecting Lake Mattamuskeet NWR. The information developed through this effort will be vitally important to make science-driven decisions to manage the lake. Water quality monitoring stations operated continuously during 2013. Information isavailable to us all at http://1.usa.gov/1e4tn7
Contributing beyond central and eastern North Carolina
In addition to our work in central and eastern North Carolina, we also contributed to important conservation efforts across the Nation, including:
- Staff continued to lead efforts to assess natural resource damages associated with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
- Our staff worked for years with many partners to better understand the effects of various common pollutants on freshwater mollusks. That work paid dividends this year when the Environmental Protection Agency published new national recommended ambient water quality criteria for ammonia in freshwater. The adoption of these criteria by the states should improve conditions for freshwater mollusks and other aquatic life.
In 2013, the RFO welcomed two new staff members. Lilibeth Serrano came on board from the Caribbean Field Office to be our Public Affairs Specialist and thanks to her we are now officially part of the 21st century social media revolution. She brings experience in the areas of media relations, congressional affairs, web and multimedia design.
Dr. R. Wilson Laney came over from the Service’s Fisheries Program to join Ecological Services. Wilson will continue the important roles he has played over the years in representing the Service regarding fisheries issues in the South Atlantic region, including representation on the Science and Technical Advisory Committee and Policy Board for the Albemarle Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, and serving as the Regional designee on the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), and will also expand his work on hydropower issues by serving as the Southeast Region FERC Coordinator. He serves as adjunct faculty at North Carolina State University, Department of Applied Ecology, and East Carolina University, Department of Biology, and is currently serving on five graduate committees (two PhD and three MS, at ECU)