Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin
Capture your sunset
Catch the perfect sunset at these national wildlife refuges located in California, Nevada, Klamath Basin. Honoring “Capture the Sunset Week,” we pulled together nine locations with the most picturesque sunsets. Pictured here: Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.
8 Hidden Gems
Explore and find solitude at these National Wildlife Refuges in California, Nevada & Klamath Basin. Shown here, a scenic photo of Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Oregon.
Credit: Doug Lester / USFWS
to bird habitat
A former golf course is returned to its wetlands roots. Federal partners broke ground on UC Santa Barbara's North Campus Open Space 2017 restoration project. The Service contributed $3.5 million to the effort.
Credit: Ashley McConnell/ USFWS
A rat's best friend
The connection between grazing, vegetation cover and abundance of kangaroo rats is clear — cattle grazing improves the species' survivability. At left, a Stephen’s kangaroo rat perches on biologist Dan Grout’s hand during a survey near Camp Pendleton, California.
Credit: Joanna Gilkeson / USFWS
South Bay icon
From their treasured picnicking spot on the San Francisco Bay in 1951, Florence LaRiviere and her husband saw that the city was “scooping" of mud from the bottom of the bay...and dropping all that mud on live, beautiful tidal marsh” to maintain the harbor, she said. It was the day her journey in conservation began.
Credit: Jon Myatt / USFWS
Lessons from a butterfly basket
Inspired by an ancient butterfly-adorned handwoven basket, Timbisha Shoshone tribal member seeking to reconnect with his Native American heritage, volunteers family for Saline Valley, California Monarch Count.
Credit: Joanna Gilkeson / USFWS
Feeding a crowd
Sandhill cranes forage on Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge. From October through the end of January, the refuge becomes a key stopover point for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway.
Credit: Rebecca Fabbri / USFWS
Boots in the water
An adult Pacific lamprey attaches itself to a rock in San Luis Obispo Creek. The species returned to the creek in 2017 after a six-year absence. “Before we moved forward with reintroduction, they came back by themselves,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Damon Goodman.
Credit: Donald Baldwin / CDFW
Pacific Southwest Highlights
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.
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.
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.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners have installed a livestreaming camera in a nest of endangered California condors on Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. Watch now. Credit: USFWS
Watch live video of wild, endangered California condor chick live in cliff-side nest on ‘Condor Cam’
FILLMORE, California – People across the world can get up-close-and-personal with an endangered California condor chick in real-time through live streaming video of a cliff-side nest in a canyon on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Ventura County, California.
California condor chick #980 hatched on April 10. Its parents are nine-year-old female condor #563 and 19-year-old male condor #262. This is the pair’s first nesting attempt together and their first year on the livestreaming 'Condor Cam' as a pair. This is female condor #563’s second attempt at raising a chick, and the chick’s father, condor #262, fledged one other chick in the past with a previous mate.
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.”
Chinook salmon fry dipped from a raceway at Coleman National Fish Hatchery. Some 180,000 were tagged and released into the Sacramento River at Scotty's Landing, near Chico, California as part of a 6-year study to improve their survival.
Credit: Jake Sisco/USFWS
'Into a new world' – 180,000 salmon get a head start on their voyage to the ocean as scientists hope to improve survival
The raceways at Coleman National Fish Hatchery are the only home a select group of salmon fry has ever known. Feeding was regular, and there were no predators. Life was easy.
Then they were released into an alien world — one with water currents, predators and no guaranteed meals. Life, literally, became uncertain.
To help prevent excess fish loss for this at-risk species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working on a pilot project with key partners to release 180,000 marked juvenile salmon into the Sacramento River 75 miles downstream from the hatchery, at Scotty’s Landing, near Chico, California.
Dave Johnson, fish and wildlife biologist at the Services’ Yreka office, indicates where juvenile Coho salmon and steelhead find food and shelter near a beaver dam analog structure on Sugar Creek in Scott Valley, California. Credit: John Heil/USFWS
'We became beavers' – Service and partners design project to simulate what beavers had not been around to do for decades
A little over five years ago, a stretch of Sugar Creek in Siskiyou County’s pristine Scott Valley was completely dry. Today it’s a wetland teeming with life.
What caused this landscape to be so completely transformed in a relatively short amount of time? A team of biologists modeling the habits of a rotund rodent with a big overbite – the beaver.
Historically, the Scott Valley was referred to as “Beaver Valley” due to the abundance of the lumbering dam builders. However, by the mid-1800s the booming fur trade had wiped out most northern California beaver populations.
Citizen scientist, Cy Phillips received a $750 grant from the Klamath Basin Audubon Society in 2011 to build 80 kestrel nest boxes for installation in the Malin-Tule Lake area.
Credit: Jon Myatt/USFWS
Cy Phillips, citizen scientist – Refuge volunteer's decade-long kestrel nesting project leads to resurgence of North America's smallest raptor
Driving south along Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway on the western edge of Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 77-year-old Cy Phillips scans the landscape on a cold, cloudy March morning. He is looking for an old oak tree blown down during a recent storm.
Phillips checks his GPS and slows his red 1996 Ford Explorer, pulling to the side of the road. “There is it is,” he says, pointing to a gnarled tree laying on its side on the rocky hillside about 40 yards away. A nesting box for American kestrels is attached to the tree’s trunk -- safe, but inaccessible at the moment.
AmeriCorps team member Tucker Merbaugh, along with employees of the Riverside County Flood Control District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and community volunteers work together to cultivate native riparian plants along the Meadowview Creek streambank. Credit: Maideline Sanchez/USFWS
From liability to asset – Tragic death sparks shift in community’s restoration focus
Teri Biancardi remembers vividly the day a dangerous restoration issue in her community came to light.
“Two little boys were digging tunnels along the streambank. The tunnels collapsed on top of the boys and only one was able to escape. This happened just six inches from our property line,” recalled the board member of the Meadowview Community Association — a homeowners association in Temecula, Calif.
Prior to the tragedy, the association was working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, implementing upland restoration projects such as controlling non-native plants and weeds using goats, and installing burrowing owl nest boxes.
A scene from Rice Canyon in the Ojai Valley after the Thomas Fire. Photo courtesy of Nathan Wickstrum/OVLC
From Devastation to Collaboration – Service joins partnership to restore native habitat after devastating wildfire
Just two hours northwest of Los Angeles you’ll find a small city called Ojai. The perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of big city life, Ojai provides urban professionals an escape to a picturesque valley backdropped by the Topatopa mountains.
A town like no other, it’s no surprise that many of those visitors end up living the rest of their lives here. The tight-knit community of artists, free spirits and outdoor enthusiasts take pride in their beloved town and local natural resources.
In December 2017, the largest wildfire in modern California history threatened the peaceful getaway.
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Find a Refuge or Hatchery
The Western Monarch
The Monarch Story...
The monarch butterfly is one of the most recognizable species of wildlife in all of America. They undertake one of the world's most remarkable and fascinating migrations, traveling thousands of miles over many generations from Mexico, across the United States, to Canada. Learn about their amazing journey and how you can help them.
California Condor Website
California Condor Recovery Program
The California Condor Recovery Program (Recovery Program) is a multi-entity effort, led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to recover the endangered California condor. Cooperators include the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Game and Fish Department, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, San Diego Zoo Los Angeles Zoo, Oregon Zoo, Santa Barbara Zoo, Chapultepec Zoo, Peregrine Fund, and Ventana Wildlife Society, among others. Learn more here...
And see the condor nest cameras here!
FieldNotes showcases the activities, events and conservation work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including here in the Pacific Southwest Region. The articles inside are written by our employees and reflect the efforts of the Service and our partners in conserving and preserving the unique natural resources across the nation. You can find stories specific to California, Nevada and the Klamath Basin. After you've visited FieldNotes, follow us on these social media channels...