Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Time Flies
Midwest Region, March 11, 2011
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I am a huge advocate for stepping outside of one's comfort zone to walk in the shoes of another culture, another environment, and even another workplace. During my short time in the Pacific Southwest Regional Office, I have learned so much about the issues facing an entirely different portion of our country, one that two weeks ago, was quite foreign to me. Since joining the Service five years ago, I have realized that this is an agency that appreciates and understands the critical element of "experiential" learning. I have had the opportunity to interact with field staff working on high profile issues including Delta smelt, the Klamath Basin, and wind energy development. Each of these issues has its own unique challenges from a public affairs perspective. I have learned that the communities that surround our National Wildlife Refuges, Fish Hatcheries, and field stations in the California-Nevada area, are strong, passionate, and interested players in the conservation arena. The key, as I learned from folks in the field, is engaging the community as much as possible in the issues affecting their landscape. Yesterday, I spoke with Michael Woodbridge, field public affairs officer for the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex in hopes of drawing some insight into the world of the California condor - the history of its reintroduction, its setbacks, and its successes. Just this past year, the California condor population reached 100 - a huge milestone for the reintroduction project. We discussed the similarities and differences of this conservation story to the efforts of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership in the Midwest, also charged with the reintroduction of an Endangered species to a portion of its native range. The largest similarity I drew from our discussion was the element of partnership, collaboration, and adaptation. The Condor project experienced multiple failures with reintroductions in its early years, but the ambition of the Service biologists, conservation partners, and the California community kept hope alive for the California condor. Today, it is considered one of the most successful reintroduction projects in our conservation history. Similarly, the Whooping Crane reintroduction project has faced challenges with nesting success in recent years, but the support of the community and members of the Whooping Crane partnership are using the best science and resources to forge ahead in the hopes of reaching a self sustaining population.


Today, I head back to the chilly upper Midwest. I look forward to sharing my observations and experiences of my time here with my peers in Region 3, and hope to have the opportunity to return to the West to explore, learn and appreciate its natural resources, people, and commitment to conservation. Thank you to Scott Flaherty, Jon Myatt, Erica Szlosek, and Kanisha Allen for allowing me to step into your world these past two weeks. I can't thank you enough.


Contact Info: Ashley Spratt, 805-644-1766 ext. 369, ashley_spratt@fws.gov
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