U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Pacific Southwest Highlights

Marsh-in campers tour the restored wetlands on the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS

Marsh-in campers tour the restored wetlands on the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Credit: USFWS

Refuge’s Summer Camp now a community tradition

Thank you for providing an opportunity for our kids to participate in something meaningful this summer, and giving us access to something fun and educational that we likely would not have been able to do financially had there been a fee.”

That’s what a parent had to say about their child’s participation in the 2019 Marsh-In Summer Camp on the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Alviso, California. Every year the Refuge’s Environmental Education Center hosts this unique and cost-free opportunity for local kids to experience nature among wildlife and wetland habitat, in the middle of a densely populated urban area.

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"In a competitive job market, you soon find that it’s a sizeable challenge to find a permanent job. For me, that’s where the Directorate Resource Assistants Fellowship Program came into play," says doctoral candidate Andrew Dennhardt. Credit: USFWS

An intern's story – A Resource Assistants Fellow shares how program boosts budding biologists' careers and brings 'experiences of a lifetime'

On one of my first days as an intern, I heard the call of a male least Bell’s vireo. He was barely visible to the naked eye amidst dense and dark foliage along the Santa Clara River. His call reminded me of why I came here to Ventura, California in the summer of 2019: to help conserve the eloquence of his inimitable song for generations to come.

I arrived at the Ventura U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office in late May, charged with working alongside biologists to study and synthesize historic information on the conservation and management of this rare migratory songbird along one of Southern California’s last remaining natural riverways. With the Ventura team, I produced a management and monitoring plan for the vireo in the Santa Clara River, highlighting future recovery and the means to that end.

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kimi King releasing a tagged monarch butterfly. Credit: USFWS

Akimi King releasing a tagged monarch butterfly. Credit: USFWS

Service employees inspire others with a Sense of Wonder'

Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife biologist Akimi King has won the 2019 Pacific Southwest Region's Sense of Wonder Award. King was recognized for her long-term work with the Connecting People with Nature initiative, her high quality environmental education programming, and her efforts to educate local communities throughout the Klamath Basin about pollinators, especially monarch butterfly conservation.

The Sense of Wonder Recognition Program recognizes a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee who has designed, implemented or shown visionary leadership in an interpretive or environmental education program that fosters a sense of wonder and enhances public stewardship of our wildlife heritage.

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Birders will find California brown pelicans, great egrets (pictured above), marsh wrens, great blue herons, sparrows, and double-crested cormorants year-round at Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve in Santa Barbara, California. Credit: Hazel Rodriguez/USFWS

Birders will find California brown pelicans, great egrets (pictured above), marsh wrens, great blue herons, sparrows, and double-crested cormorants year-round at Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve in Santa Barbara, California.
Credit: Hazel Rodriguez/USFWS

Marsh of Dreams – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, partners build nest platforms and improve habitat at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve

“It’s a very secretive salt marsh bird,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program biologist Colleen Grant. “You could be 20 feet away from them, but you'll never see them.”

The light-footed Ridgway’s rail (formerly known as light-footed clapper rail) once inhabited the wetlands that occupied California’s coast, from Santa Barbara County to San Quintin Bay in Baja California, Mexico. Today, the species ranges from southern Ventura County to Ensenada. The last sighting of the rail in Santa Barbara County’s Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve was in 2004.

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Recovery Champions

Klamath Basin Sucker Recovery Team members with their Recovery Champion awards at the sucker rearing facility near Klamath Falls.
Credit: Mike Long/USFWS

Recovery Champions – Klamath Basin sucker program team receives 2018 conservation award

On Endangered Species Day in May, 10 members of the Klamath Basin sucker recovery team, eight former and current U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees and two external partners were selected as the Pacific Southwest Region Recovery Champions for 2018.

Members of the team are: Mike Senn, deputy assistant regional director, Ecological Services; Dan Blake, Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office field supervisor; Evan Childress, sucker program supervisor; Josh Rasmussen, fish biologist; Joel Ophoff, fish technician; and former Service employees Laurie Sada, Kirk Groves and Julie Day; and external partners Ron Barnes and Tracey Liskey.

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California's Central Valley plays a critical role in supporting western monarch butterflies. Farmers can help by planting milkweed and other nectar-rich flowers that bloom in the spring and early fall alongside their primary crops. Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

California's Central Valley plays a critical role in supporting western monarch butterflies. Farmers can help by planting milkweed and other nectar-rich flowers that bloom in the spring and early fall alongside their primary crops.
Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

Monarchs need your help – New guide explains how farmers can bolster butterfly populations

Over the past few decades, monarch populations across the United States have declined, and they need your help.

The western population has especially hit a record low, decreasing 99 percent since the 1980s.

From October to February, most monarch butterflies spend the winter along the California coast, and then migrate inland in the spring for breeding. California’s Central Valley is an important part of the western monarch’s range, both for breeding in the early spring and for supporting the butterflies as they move through the region during their migrations.

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A youngster from the Bob Price Community Center proudly displays the huge weed she pulled from one of the tortoise habitats at the Gilcrease Orchard in Las Vegas. <br>
                    Credit: Dan Balduini/USFWS

A youngster from the Bob Price Community Center proudly displays the huge weed she pulled from one of the tortoise habitats at the Gilcrease Orchard in Las Vegas.
Credit: Dan Balduini/USFWS

A helping hand – Las Vegas orchard provides fresh produce, safe homes for owls, and now, tortoises

In the far northwest part of the Las Vegas Valley, surrounded by housing developments, the Gilcrease Orchard is a popular spot where people can purchase fresh, seasonal produce throughout the year and perhaps catch a glimpse of some native wildlife.

The orchard became a non-profit foundation more than 20 years ago in order to save one of the last vestiges of agriculture in the Las Vegas Valley.

The foundation has been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for about 10 years to provide protected land for burrowing owls.

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A scene from Rice Canyon in the Ojai Valley after the Thomas Fire. Photo courtesy of Nathan Wickstrum/OVLC

Solar energy planners in Nye County, Nevada hope to alleviate any impacts to habitat for the endangered desert tortoise, like the one shown above near Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Dana Wilson/BLM

Can desert tortoises and solar arrays co-exist?
One solar energy facility in southern Nevada is helping to answer that question

Motorists driving into or out of Pahrump on Nevada Route 160 pass by it every day. On the east side of the highway north of town, about a mile beyond the Calvada Meadows Airport, drivers might notice a shining array of community solar panels.

What they see is an 80-acre solar site on East Simkins Road which provides electricity to homes in Nye County, Nevada. Solar power facilities are now common sights in the Mojave Desert. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chose to make this one a bit different.

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Winter-run juvenile Chinook salmon are loaded into a tanker truck for transport to the Battle Creek release site as part of a reintroduction plan to repopulate winter Chinook salmon into upper Battle Creek. Credit: Jake Sisco/USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service depends on support from other fire agencies, like this firefighter from the U.S. Forest Service, to conduct prescribed burns.

Credit: Brian German/USFWS

Fighting fire with fire – Prescribed burns on refuges improve habitat, reduce wildfire risk

Snow-capped mountains and blue skies sat in sharp contrast to the red flames burning slowly across the dried cattails and bulrush on an early spring morning in northern Nevada.

Brian German, a fire operations specialist, led his team of firefighters as they used drip torches to ignite the dry marsh and build a steady line of flames to create a “blackline” around the perimeter of a wetland unit at Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Not long after, one of the firefighters lobbed a firing device into the center of the unit, which exploded to create a slow fire that crept outward toward the blackline.

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This fish is the first to return from the 214,000 juveniles released last spring as part of a jump start program aimed at bolstering the endangered fish’s population after extreme drought in 2014 and 2015  Credit: Jacie Knight/USFWS

Nature Collective volunteer Beverly Patterson and intern Issac Vallejo remove invasive sea rocket from newly created dunes at the Living Shoreline Project in Encinitas, California.
Credit: Maideline Sanchez/USFWS

Living Shoreline Project holds ocean at bay

The locals in Encinitas, California know Cardiff Beach as a great spot for recreation, relaxation and a spectacular view of the ocean.

What they may not know, though, is that all of that beauty and serenity has been under constant threat of chaotic wave action, high tides and erosion from the Pacific Ocean, according to former Coastal Program manager Katherine Weldon.

“These tidal impacts have long been an issue for Cardiff State Beach even before Encinitas became a city. We have records of ocean water flooding Highway 101 at least 42 times since the ‘80s,” she said.

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hese spring trout eggs in the eyed-stage were delivered to a dozen Klamath County, Oregon public, private and after-school classrooms for a two-month project called Trout in the Classroom.

These spring trout eggs in the eyed-stage were delivered to a dozen Klamath County, Oregon public, private and after-school classrooms for a two-month project called 'Trout in the Classroom.'
Credit: Marcia Schlottman/Klamath Country School District

Students get schooled by fish – School District's 'Trout in the Classroom' program educates local students about healthy fish habitat

A group of students peered through the cold glass of the small aquarium at 100 pea-sized fish eggs rolling gently on the bottom of the tank. The unblinking black eyes of the orange orbs inside appeared to stare back.

The eggs were delivered as part of the popular program “Fish Eggs to Fry in the Classroom,” offered to public, private and after-school classes in Klamath County for more than 10 years, according to Akimi King, biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

The program helps promote the state of Oregon’s hatchery goal of stocking catchable trout while educating local students about healthy fish habitat, endangered species and water quality.

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Pre-restoration, this section of the 2,300-acre South San Diego Bay unit was entirely underwater. Now it's a booming ecosystem. Credit: Rebecca Fabbri/USFWS

Pre-restoration, this section of the 2,300-acre South San Diego Bay unit was entirely under water. Now it's a booming ecosystem.
Credit: Rebecca Fabbri/USFWS

Turning back Nature’s clock – Salt marsh project now a flourishing wetland habitat

Two unique landscapes share a space within one unit of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge in San Diego, California — a working saltworks industrial site, San Diego’s oldest business and hundreds of acres of lush green habitat.

The 2,300-acre South San Diego Bay Unit was established in the mid-1990s to shelter, protect and restore habitat for hundreds of thousands of birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway, as well as for the bay’s resident species.

"This piece of land wasn’t always like this,” said Carolyn Lieberman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program coordinator for the Carlsbad office. “All the green you see now, imagine no plants – just patches of water and mud everywhere.”

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