Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin
Restoration brings salmon, people back to Clear Creek
“You get to see big male salmon chasing each other away from females and see females digging redds, or nests, it’s exciting.” said Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Charlie Chamberlain. “It’s something a lot of people would not expect to see in California except on National Geographic.”
Credit: Brandon Honig / USFWS
A great leap forward
Juvenile Foothill yellow-legged frogs look similar to adults except for their smaller size, more contrasting dorsal coloration and lack of significant yellow on their undersurfaces.
Credit: Rebecca Fabbri / USFWS
Using local seeds to save the sage
The idea of using local, native seeds in restoration is taking off, just like the wildfires they are designed to follow, as ecologists and botanists in Nevada embark on research to test the use of these seeds in helping burned areas recover and become resilient.
Credit: Sarah Kulpa / USFWS
Imagine taking a kayak out on the water all day as a full-time job. Well, that’s exactly what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees from the Red Bluff office do for a portion of the year.
Credit: John Heil / USFWS
“The excitement in the air is palpable,” says Chad Mitcham, fish and wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, after releasing 43 Ohlone tiger beetles to their new home in Santa Cruz County.
Photo courtesy of Alex Jones/University of California, Santa Cruz
The natural portfolio
In northern California, springtime is marked by wildflower blooms, bird migrations, swollen rivers, and the return of the first salmon of the year to the Klamath River – spring-run Chinook salmon.
Credit: John Heil / USFWS
From “extinct” to “prolific”
This spring, Susan Sorrells, with the help of the Service and Deana Clifford, from the State’s Wildlife Investigations Lab, plans to introduce a group of wild endangered Amargosa voles onto her property with the hope of establishing a new population.
Credit: Rebecca Fabbri / USFWS
Summer steelhead are the most extreme athletes of the steelhead according to Damon Goodman, a biologist out of the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office.
Credit: John Heil / USFWS
Pacific Southwest Highlights
Central Valley steelhead, seen here at Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Anderson, California, has been federally listed as a threatened species since 1988. Credit: Steve Martarano/USFWS
Restoring Dry Creek - Joint project with U.S. Air Force opens spawning habitat for threatened steelhead
In 1943 the Army completed a dam on Camp Beale so its soldiers could fish, swim and jump off the dam’s diving platform. Nearly 80 years later, the Air Force is giving Dry Creek back to the original tenants: its fish.
“The dam was built to provide recreation,” said Paul Cadrett, a fish biologist and habitat restoration coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Lodi, California. “Then in the ’80s someone said, ‘Hey, there are fish banging their heads at the bottom of this dam,’ so they built a fish ladder. But it didn’t work very well, and most fish weren’t able to navigate it.”
Biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery inject a female winter-run Chinook salmon with thiamine. Researchers will gauge whether the vitamin boost is passed on to their offspring to address the risk of thiamine deficiency. Credit: Travis Webster/USFWS
Researchers probe deaths of Central Valley Chinook, with possible ties to ocean changes - Deficiency in Vitamin B1 linked to higher juvenile mortality in California fish hatcheries
Scientists from several fish and wildlife agencies have launched a rapid research and response effort for deficiency of thiamine, or Vitamin B1. This deficiency was recently found to be increasing juvenile mortality among Chinook salmon in California’s Central Valley.
The magnitude of its effect is not clear. However, it could be a risk to Chinook stocks, including endangered winter-run Chinook salmon and the fishery for fall-run Chinook salmon.
In early 2020, staff at state and federal salmon hatcheries in California’s Central Valley observed newly hatched offspring of adult Chinook salmon that spawned in 2019. They were swimming in corkscrew patterns and dying at unusually high rates. Researchers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s California-Nevada Fish Health Center eliminated infectious diseases as the cause. Then, they noticed that a bath of thiamine immediately revived the ailing juveniles.
Desert bighorn sheep pictured at Desert National Wildlife Refuge in southern Nevada. Credit: Peter Pearsall/USFWS
10 things you didn’t know about nature in Nevada
Nevada is famous for its casinos and nightlife, but not necessarily for its striking geography and biodiversity (and it should be, to be honest).
Here are 10 things you didn’t know about plants, wildlife and their habitats in the Silver State.
From mule deer to elk to ground squirrels to desert bighorn sheep, Nevada is 9th among all states in mammal diversity.
An angler holds a freshly-caught Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout at Pyramid Lake. Courtesy photo by Greg Ritland
Iconic trout can access historic spawning grounds - New fish passage to open natural migration route after more than a century
Just one year after celebrating the Derby Dam groundbreaking ceremony, the state-of-the-art fish screen is ready and waiting to help Lahontan cutthroat trout travel from Pyramid lake to their spawning grounds above the dam.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is thrilled to finally have the Derby Dam fish screen completed,” said Service California Great Basin regional director Paul Souza. “The addition of this fish screen to the existing water infrastructure will allow the iconic Lahontan cutthroat trout to once again travel beyond the dam and complete its natural migration route for the first time in more than a century.”
In honor of World Fish Migration Day, Oct. 24: An adult winter-run Chinook salmon that returned to Battle Creek in March 2020. Credit: Jacie Knight/USFWS
700 winter-run Chinook salmon return to Battle Creek - numbers are higher than expected for “Jumpstart Project” the past two years
At least 700 sub-adult and adult winter-run Chinook salmon (winter Chinook) returned this year to Battle Creek.
Although monitoring efforts were curtailed, 47 redds were also observed with juveniles now being captured in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rotary screw trap as they emigrate out of the system. To date, more than 300 fry have been captured and monitoring efforts will continue through the fall.
Establishing another self-sustaining population in a second watershed (in addition to population in Sacramento River), such as Battle Creek, is a high priority and a major component of the Central Valley salmonid recovery plan.
These returns are higher than expected, as there was an anticipation to see 500-600 adult fish return this year. Although the restoration actions in Battle Creek are not complete, there was adequate habitat for some fish to spawn and produce juveniles. This year’s returning adults were released into Battle Creek as part of the Jumpstart Project in 2018 and 2019 when 214,000 and 184,000 juveniles were released.
A desert tortoise diet consists primarily of wildflowers, grasses and cacti. You can often find a tortoise with “green lipstick” after it has eaten. Credit: USFWS
A Mojave desert tortoise's striking recovery
Mojave desert tortoises occur in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts north and west of the Colorado River in southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, southeastern California, and northwestern Arizona.
They live on a variety of terrain from sandy flats to rocky foothills, but face numerous obstacles when seeking suitable habitat in the wild. Roadways are one of the greatest dangers, accounting for the deaths of more than 200 tortoises a year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works closely with the U.S. Marine Corps and other organizations to treat injured tortoises.
Desert Tortoise Rescue tells the recovery story of one particular tortoise struck by a vehicle and the team that saved it. It highlights the work of Palm Springs Fish and Wildlife Office biologist, Scott Hoffman, who partnered with the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms’ egg incubation and hatchlings headstart facility, and Turtle Island’s conservation, breeding and research center in Austria. The video also provides ways to help protect the threatened species.
A view of the marsh habitat at the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Ivette López/USFWS
A tribute to the Latino legacy of the Salinas Valley - Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) honors the history and contributions of Latinos tracing their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean. The theme for Hispanic Heritage Month 2020, “Be Proud of Your Past and Embrace the Future," invites Hispanic people to embrace their backgrounds and be proud of who they are and where they came from. It serves as a powerful reminder to all of us that by embracing others and ourselves we can have a brighter future through the inclusion of diverse cultures, backgrounds and perspectives.
Historically and today, the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge in California depict the Latino heritage in the region. Like many other places throughout the United States, the Salinas Valley is integral to the individual and collective experiences of the Latino diaspora. After operating as a coastal defense base by the U.S. Navy, the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge was established on July 10, 1973, for its prime location along the Pacific Flyway.
California least tern chick cover under chick shelter at San Dieguito Lagoon. Credit: Brian Foster/Volant Research Enterprises
Return of the tern - If you build it, they will come… eventually
The California least tern (Sterna antillarum browni) faces many hurdles for successful nesting and chick production, and this year was no exception. A strong red tide, predators and recreational trespassing affected least terns at sites throughout California. Despite all odds, about 10–15 adult tern pairs, along with their 10 offspring, were observed at San Dieguito Lagoon this past spring, marking the first ever nesting success at two manmade sites.
The tiny, federally endangered bird returns to California each April to breed, nesting directly on the sand at river mouths and coastal strands, from the U.S./Mexico border to the San Francisco Bay. However, loss of habitat and historical nesting sites due to development and recreational use led the California least tern to be included on the first list of federally endangered and threatened wildlife under the Endangered Species Act in 1973.
Yosemite toads collected along State Route 108 during the maintenance project. Credit: Kris Bason/Caltrans
Building roads to save Yosemite toads
Each spring deep in the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite toads roam the alpine meadows in search of a mate. Biologists have been tracking the movements of these toads, and have noted that they travel surprisingly long distances for such small creatures. From breeding habitat to overwintering habitat, they journey nearly a mile, and in some places, the toads must cross busy highways to reach important habitat.
“In Mono County, Highway 108 goes right through Upper Sardine Meadow, a breeding area for one of the largest known populations of Yosemite toads on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The road literally splits the toad breeding habitat in half,” said Chad Mellison, fish and wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Reno Fish and Wildlife Office.
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