U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Pacific Southwest Highlights

The fire crew from the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex

The Department of Defense manages over 11 million acres of land across the United States. Each installation actively balance military training activities with habitat management to conserve natural resources. Above: the vibrant Mojave desert managed by the U.S. Marine Corps at Twentynine Palms , San Bernardino County, California. Credit: Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS

Veterans Day: Honoring our military and the collaboration we share in habitat restoration

November 11 is the one day set aside each year to honor those who have served and continue to serve our nation. Not to be confused with Memorial Day, the day we pay tribute to fallen service members, Veterans Day offers a great opportunity to learn about the sacrifice service members and their families make year-round.

This year, the Pacific Southwest Region would like to thank our military partners for their work in conservation. Each week this month, we will be featuring stories about conservation in military installations in our region.

This photo gallery features the collaboration we share in habitat restoration projects on military installations across our region.

See the photo gallery...

Check out our first story in our Veterans Day series...

Corey Kallstrom, biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (left) and Dr. Daniel Thompson, associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas's School of Life Sciences, examine a sulphur buckwheat at the Spring Mountains, Nevada. Credit: USFWS

Understanding a 'sky island' plant might be secret to saving Spring Mountains dark blue butterfly

“The butterfly and the buckwheat” may not sound like a match made in heaven, but the Spring Mountains dark blue butterfly depends heavily on this yellow, flowering plant from birth until new eggs are laid the following season.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has partnered with biologists at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and U.S. Forest Service to find out more about this elusive butterfly and allocate resources to aid this rare species

“They only fly for a few weeks each year,” said Dr. Daniel Thompson, associate professor at the School of Life Sciences at UNLV. He and his students have been doing research on this Spring Mountains butterfly species since 2010.

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Service biologists work on the Delta looking for the elusive Delta smelt.

Adult female monarch butterfly B6679 stretches her wings after emerging from the chrysalis, just prior to receiving her coded tag. The newly hatched butterfly became the first recorded Pacific Northwest monarch to reproduce in Southern California, traveling more than 500 miles. Credit: Akimi King/USFWS

Monarch on a mission: Monarch butterfly first Pacific Northwest migrant to reproduce in Southern California

When Akimi King found monarch butterfly eggs in her garden near Klamath Falls, Oregon, in August 2017, she had no idea one would make western monarch history as the first Pacific Northwest migrant observed reproducing in California.

Since monarch survival in the wild is less than two percent, King, a biologist in the Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office, raised the larvae indoors for the next month.

On September 3, 2017, two adult monarchs emerged from the many pupating caterpillars King was nurturing. Within hours, the male and female were ready to fly. King affixed a small coded tag on the lower wing of each and set them free to migrate to the central California coast.

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Bruce Hall, from Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, has participated in several Maintenance Action Team projects and puts the skills he learns to work throughout the year. Credit: USFWS

Bruce Hall, from Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, has participated in several Maintenance Action Team projects and puts the skills he learns to work throughout the year. Credit: USFWS

Building the Workforce: Maintenance Action Team projects provide training and savings

For many, the word “construction” in the summer conjures up images of long lines of cars delaying arrivals at vacation destinations. But on national wildlife refuges in the Pacific Southwest Region, the dry weather in the spring and summer months are ideal for working on projects that help maintain critical wildlife habitat and infrastructure, as well as improve recreational access to public lands.

Each year, refuges throughout the region complete hundreds of construction projects that range in scope from fixing steps to roads. This year, the region completed three large projects using Maintenance Action Teams. While these teams bring together Service staff from multiple refuges with the goal of accomplishing a large refuge project, they’re also designed to provide career growth and training for those employees.

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SDucks recover in the 'duck hospital' on Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Since late July, several refuges and wetlands along the Pacific Flyway have experienced outbreaks of avian botulism. Credit: Bird Ally X

Ducks recover in the 'duck hospital' on Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Since late July, several refuges and wetlands along the Pacific Flyway have experienced outbreaks of avian botulism.
Credit: Bird Ally X

'Duck hospital': Rehabbers to the rescue, saving sick birds from botulism in the Klamath Basin

January Bill never has a dull moment when it comes to caring for sick wildlife. As co-founder of wildlife rescue group Bird Ally X, she has helped manage the daily treatment and recovery of birds suffering from avian botulism at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge complex ‘duck hospital.’

Bill moves quickly between tasks, performing intake exams on waterfowl and shorebirds, preparing bowls of food for recovering birds and providing orientation to new volunteers. While expertly inserting a tube in the throat of a sick duck, Bill explains that botulism is a neurotoxin that can paralyze birds and the primary treatment is to flush the toxins out with hydration fluids.

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A bigger, happier and healthier Moka in his new home at Lions, Tigers and Bears sanctuary in Alpine, California. A hybrid Bengal tiger, Moka was an extremely sick and emaciated cub when confiscated at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on California's southern border in August 2017. Credit: Lions, Tigers and Bears wildlife sanctuary

Moka's journey: Bengal tiger cub rescued from wildlife smugglers has bright future

With more than 8 million vehicle crossings in 2017, Otay Mesa Port of Entry, 25 miles southeast of San Diego, is one of the busiest border crossings in California. On the night of August 23, 2017, a Customs and Border Protection Officer peered into a car and noticed a small feline on the floor of the front seat.

The occupants of the car said it was a domestic cat, but on closer inspection, the officer knew it was no house cat. The feeble feline with unusual markings turned out to be an extremely sick and emaciated hybrid Bengal tiger cub; the latest victim of the illegal wildlife trade.

It is exceedingly rare to find a tiger cub being smuggled across the border, and according to Erin Dean, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service resident agent in charge for Southern California, the only other known cub smuggling in the state “occurred 20 years ago.”

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All smiles here! Presley Burgess shows off her very first catch with her father Gregg Burgess, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officer.  Presley, a Wilson Elementary School third grader, joined her classmates on a trip known as the “Sutter Buttes Science Field Day.” Credit: Rebecca Fabbri/USFWS

Gridley elementary schoolers encouraged to 'think like a biologist' in program that brings science education to students in rural areas

“This is the best day of my life,” squealed third grader Presley Burgess, while reeling in a boisterous bluegill.

Presley was one of the many exuberant Wilson Elementary School third graders who attended a trip known as the “Sutter Buttes Science Field Day.” The field day is an ongoing tradition at the school, located in Gridley, California; this year marks the program’s 25th anniversary.

Every year, Wilson Elementary students are transported to a beautiful 600-acre private property, deep within the California Sutter Buttes. Launched by elementary school teachers Pam Wolf and Joann Hamman, the field trip idea was originally inspired by their involvement with a two-year program known as “Science in Rural California” that focuses on bringing science education to students in rural areas.

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Chris Derrickson, summer technician from Oregon State University, listens for the ‘chirp’ of a radio-tagged sucker as the scanner picks up the signal from the murky waters of Upper Klamath Lake, while Jordan Ortega, Oregon State University field technician, records data.

Chris Derrickson, from Oregon State University, listens for the ‘chirp’ of a radio-tagged sucker as the scanner picks up the signal in Upper Klamath Lake, while Jordan Ortega, Oregon State University field technician, records data. Radio tracking is a new phase of the sucker rearing program in the Klamath Basin. Credit: Kirk Groves/USFWS

Search for 'chirping' signals part of pilot project to learn if captive-raised endangered sucker are surviving in Upper Klamath Lake

Chris Derrickson tilts his head slightly, listening to the faint bird-like ‘chirping’ sound through his earphones while standing in a slowly moving boat. He concentrates on a digital scanner as the chirp grows stronger, closing in on his target. But rather than look to the sky for a bird, Derrickson leans over, peering into the murky waters of Upper Klamath Lake.

His target is a fish, more precisely a juvenile endangered sucker fish with an implanted radio transmitter.

Derrickson and Jordan Ortega, both interns at Oregon State University, are spending the summer tracking two-year-old Lost River and shortnose suckers. As part of a pilot project, their mission is to determine where the young fish hang out, and more importantly, if they are surviving.

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