U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Pacific Southwest Highlights

Connie Rutherford
Credit: Chris Kofron/USFWS

US Fish & Wildlife Service honors Pacific Southwest Region's 2017 Recovery Champions

Sacramento, Calif.— On Endangered Species Day, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service celebrates the contributions and achievements of our nationally recognized Recovery Champions. These dedicated individuals have devoted themselves to recovering endangered and threatened animals and plants.

For 2017, Connie Rutherford and Dr. Barbara Kus are the award winners for their efforts in the Pacific Southwest Region.

“Dr. Barbara Kus and Connie Rutherford are true conservation heroes,” said Paul Souza, Director of the Service’s Pacific Southwest Region. “Their collaborative approach to finding solutions is an example for resource stewards looking to take positive steps toward recovering listed species.”

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Carolyn Read

Carolyn Read looks towards the freshly translocated coastal sage scrub plants in the restoration area on her property.
Credit: Jonathan Snapp-Cook/USFWS

Nature's Good Neighbors Series:

Sweet present, rich past – Berry grower embraces conservation, history

This week, our national “Nature's Good Neighbors” campaign features a story about Carolyn Read.

It would be easy to call Read a preservationist and leave it at that. How many people would settle in a ranch house built 130 years ago and raise a family there?

Or call her a conservationist. Read has made sure that native plants that were in danger of getting choked out by other invasives are again thriving in the arid reaches of her San Diego-area ranch.

Read more about her story...

Andy Thomson, a restoration ecologist with the environmental consulting firm, Dudek, points out spineflower seedlings to conservation partners from Newhall Land and Farming company), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jodi McGraw Consulting, and FLx environmental consulting firms. Credit: Ashley Spratt/USFWS

Nature's Good Neighbors Series:

A promising future for a California plant once believed extinct

This week, our national “Nature's Good Neighbors” campaign features a story about the San Fernando Valley spineflower, a tiny plant once believed extinct, has a promising future thanks to support from an unlikely source — a Southern California developer.

That developer, FivePoint Holdings, LLC, is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as other agencies to ensure that a plant found only two places in the world will continue to grow in its native habitat.

And, as the tiny, flowering buckwheat grows, so, too, will a master-planned community comprising 21,500 homes and employing 75,000 people. The project, Newhall Ranch, is taking shape west of Interstate 5 in the Santa Clarita Valley, about an hour drive northwest of Los Angeles.

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California condor

A Dixie Valley toad is measured near a spring in northcentral Nevada. "We know their distribution and how they breed, but we still don’t know their life history, where they overwinter or their overall population size. Those kinds of unknowns can make planning restoration projects difficult," said Service biologist Chad Mellison. Credit: Kris Urquhart/USFWS

Springs support big life in nation’s driest state

With less than a foot of precipitation each year, the high Nevada desert is one of the thirstiest locales in the nation for living creatures to survive. Yet somehow the Silver State boasts nearly 4,000 different species of plants and animals, nearly 200 of which can be found nowhere else in the world.

Incredibly, a large portion of those unique, endemic species live in the most improbable and hostile of places: tiny spring oases that dot the rugged Great Basin landscape. And their plight is every bit as difficult as it sounds.

“These are very small populations of potentially rare freshwater mollusks, fish and amphibians that were isolated in small springs in Nevada after the end of the ice age thousands of years ago that are still fighting for their survival today,” said Andy Starostka, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and WildlifeService's Reno office.

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Tom and Ed Sparling at Sparling Ranch near Hollister, California. Credit: Ashley Spratt/USFWS

Nature's Good Neighbors Series:

Sparling Ranch Conservation Bank a win-win for ranchers, developers, wildlife

Amid the rolling grasslands and oak woodlands of Santa Clara and San Benito counties lies Sparling Ranch, just outside the small town of Hollister, California. On warm summer days, herds of cattle graze and rest on the sloping hillsides.

Tom and Ed Sparling are cousins and reminisce about the history in these hills, where their families have ranched, hunted, and fished for six generations. Their great-great grandfather was T.S. Hawkins, who traveled hundreds of miles by wagon from Missouri to California and originally settled the land at the turn of the century. His critically acclaimed book, “Recollections of a Busy Life,” recounted that journey.

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Landowner David Spicer hitting the trails on his ranch near Beatty, Nevada. Photo courtesy of David Spicer/STORM-OV

Nature's Good Neighbors Series:

Toads and trails — Restoring habitat, reviving the local economy

This week, the national “Nature's Good Neighbors” campaign features a story about David Spicer, a landowner in Beatty, Nevada, who is working with the Service’s Partners Program to protect Amargosa toads while developing his land into a recreational destination for hikers, bikers and runners.

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A steelhead trout jumps in the holding pond at Coleman National Fish Hatchery. Steelhead are the anadromous, or ocean-going, form of rainbow trout found throughout the Sacramento River system and its tributaries.
Credit: Laura Mahoney/USFWS

Record number of steelhead return to spawn during 2017-18 season at Coleman National Fish Hatchery

Unprecedented. That’s the word to describe the 10,000 steelhead that returned to Coleman National Fish Hatchery during the 2017-2018 season. In a typical year, a couple hundred fish come back in October, with the number of returns gradually increasing each month through January.

The October 2017 return, however, was different from a typical year. Hundreds of fish began coming back each week and some weeks even saw returns of over 1,000 fish.

While dealing with the large return presented huge challenges for hatchery personnel, anglers will be happy to see the fish released into the Sacramento River after they have been spawned.

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Service biologist Dr. Evan Childress, displays one of 2,500 juvenile suckers raised and released this year as part of an effort to keep Lost River and shortnose suckers from going extinct. Courtesy photo: Jes Burns, Oregon Public Broadcasting

Saving suckers in the Klamath Basin

This spring, the first group of 2,500 juvenile endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers began their life’s journey when released into Upper Klamath Lake after growing 18 months in a captive rearing facility. With them swims the hope of saving both species from extinction.

“Okay guys, go make a difference,” said Kirk Groves, biologist at the Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office as the suckers disappeared in the murky water.

Historically, Klamath Basin suckers live from 30-50 years and grow up to three feet in length. The problem now is these suckers aren’t even surviving to two years. Water quality, parasites and predation are among the culprits.

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Agee Smith of Cottonwood Ranch explains how the native grasses and shrubs on his grazing allotments have rebounded after the 2000 Camp Creek Fire. Credit: Dan Hottle/USFWS

Nature's Good Neighbors Series:

In Nevada, ranching for results, not regulations

On April 2, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched a national campaign called “Nature's Good Neighbors” that features stories about Americans from all walks of life making a living on the land and being a steward to wildlife -- with the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The campaign will run through the summer and feature new stories every week, including several from this region.

The second story in the campaign features Agee Smith, a fifth generation Nevada rancher and owner of Cottonwood Ranch, a cow-calf beef and guest ranch that sits in the shadow of the Jarbidge Mountains. This year marks the 20th anniversary that he and a few of his closest ranching neighbors – known as the “Shoesole Group” – have used an innovative style of land management to guide natural resource conservation on three ranches encompassing more than 200,000 acres.

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Pretty in pink — The endangered Yreka phlox (Phlox hirsuta) is the topic of a guided nature program on April 4 presented by the Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office. The program is open to the public and meets at the Chinese Cemetery kiosk east of Yreka on Highway 3. Credit: Serena Doose/USFWS

Meet the little flower adopted by a small town

The Yreka phlox is a perennial shrub no more than six inches high that is found in just five locations within Siskiyou County and nowhere else in the world.

Each spring on the dry, rocky hills around Yreka, California, a small native plant comes to life with colorful flowers ranging from bright rose pink to white. The Yreka phlox (Phlox hirsuta) is a perennial shrub no more than six inches high, grows only on serpentine soils, and is found in just five locations within Siskiyou County and nowhere else in the world.

China Hill, which overlooks Interstate 5, is one of the five known phlox locations, and where the Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office offers an annual guided ‘phlox walk.’ Nadine Kanim and Sheri Hagwood, biologists for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, lead the walk as part of the Yreka phlox recovery effort to educate the community about this delicate little plant. This year’s walk is set for April 4 from noon until 2 p.m., and is open to all ages.

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