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Go Wild in the Florida Keys: Outdoor Fest Offers Four Days of Fun in Four Wildlife Refuges


January 13, 2016

A great white heron standing on a piling in front of a colorful sunset.

A great white heron rests on a piling at sunset in the Great White Heron NWR. Credit: Photo by Mickey Foster

For anyone wanting an up-close take on the great outdoors, a celebration of the National Wildlife Refuge system in the Florida Keys is just around the subtropical bend. US Fish and Wildlife Service's Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex and their Friends group FAVOR (Friends And Volunteers Of Refuges) announce their first annual Outdoor Fest—four action-packed days filled with family-friendly, mostly free outdoor adventures and hands-on activities—set for Thursday, March 17th through Sunday, March 20th.

The event location spans Key West to Key Largo in the four national wildlife refuges established in the Florida Keys – National Key Deer, Crocodile Lake, Great White Heron, and Key West National Wildlife Refuges—and features expert guided birding and nature walks, art and photography workshops, kids programs, kayak excursions, a natural history bike ride, and the 2nd Annual Run With Deer 5K on Big Pine Key.

The Outdoor Fest was created to encourage people to get outside in a wildlife-friendly manner while promoting an understanding and appreciation of the refuges—home to some of the world’s most endangered habitats, plants, and wildlife species. Eco-tourists, nature-lovers, birding enthusiasts, nature photographers, artists, runners, and outdoor adventure-inclined families will find much to explore in the four day outdoor extravaganza.

Read the full release...




Dam Removed on the lower San Marcos River


January 25, 2016

Download the video or read the transcript.

This week crews are removing an old dam on the lower San Marcos River, just upstream of Palmetto State Park.

Built in 1911, the collapsed dam has posed a safety hazard and acted as a barrier to fish and other aquatic life. Removing the dam will help the ecosystem while also providing a safer environment for paddlers and other river users.

For more information on the project visit the National Fish Passage Program website.

It's a partnership with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Southwest Region, Texas Rivers & Streams - Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Texas Rivers Protection Association, the San Marcos River Foundation, and the Texas Water Safari.



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Designates Critical Habitat for Two South Florida Cacti
Also Releases Economic Analysis


January 21, 2016

A tall narrow cacti bearing a round yellow fruit

Aboriginal prickly-apple. Photo: Dave Bender, USFWS

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is designating critical habitat for two endangered cacti—the Florida semaphore cactus and aboriginal prickly-apple—under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), totaling 7,855 acres in several Florida counties.

The Service is designating critical habitat in four areas where the Florida semaphore cactus is found, comprising approximately 4,411 acres in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. Approximately 3,444 acres will be designated as critical habitat in 11 areas for the aboriginal prickly-apple in Manatee, Charlotte, Sarasota and Lee Counties.

“The areas being designated as critical habitat are essential to conserving these two cacti,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “We used the best scientific information concerning their present and historical ranges, habitat, and biology to select these areas.”

Read the full release...
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Revised Policy Strengthens Collaboration Between Service, Native American Tribes for Conservation of Shared Natural Heritage


January 20, 2016

Native American leaders and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) officials gathered today to recognize new measures to strengthen the agency’s 20-year-old policy guiding government-to-government relations between tribes and the agency. Service Director Dan Ashe signed the updated Native American Policy (NAP) during a Washington, D.C., ceremony attended by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Michael Bean and numerous tribal representatives. The Service manages lands and resources of great importance to tribes.

“To be good stewards of our planet and its remarkable natural history for future generations, we must work effectively across shared landscapes. We can only do that as a nation by working collaboratively with Native American Tribes,” said Ashe. “The Fish and Wildlife Service’s newly updated Native American Policy will foster and nurture relationships with Tribes and honor the mutual trust of guardianship we hold for decades to come.”

Sixteen tribes worked with Service representatives for more than two years to create the revised policy. Tribal representation on the NAP Team includes members from the: Cherokee Nation, Chugach Regional Resources Commission, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Gros Ventre and Assiniboine of Fort Belknap, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Native Village of Emmonak, Navajo Nation, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Penobscot Indian Nation, Quinault Indian Nation, San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, and Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

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Service Announces Draft Methodology for Prioritizing Endangered Species Act Status Reviews
Process will ensure species in greatest need are addressed first, provide predictability and transparency and foster stakeholder engagement


January 14, 2016

A close up photograph of a bee collecting nectar from a pink flower

Credit: ©Tim Lethbridge. Used with permission.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a draft methodology to better identify and prioritize pending Endangered Species Act (ESA) “status reviews,” the process by which the Service determines whether a species that has been petitioned for listing may warrant ESA protection. The methodology will assist the Service and its partners in addressing America’s most imperiled wildlife and plant species first, while reinforcing collaboration between the Service and its partners and maximizing transparency throughout the decision-making process.

“This methodology will help us strategically prioritize work on Endangered Species Act listing petitions to ensure the most urgent wildlife needs are addressed first, while also providing a common sense and defensible path to address all petitions,” said Dan Ashe, Service Director. “The methodology will help us provide greater certainty and transparency to our partners through subsequent development of a publicly available, strategic workplan that reflects our work priorities.”

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Vice President and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley expressed gratitude for the Service’s commitment to working with state fish and wildlife agencies to address the backlog of 12-month petition findings. ”This process should help state agencies address their public trust responsibilities with a measure of deliberate or planned conservation engagement,” he said.

Read the full release...




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Last updated: February 9, 2016