Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin
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
A magical place
The Nipomo Mesa lupine, an endangered plant that is endemic to the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, grows no taller than eight inches and has purple and pink-colored blossoms. Its’ entire geographic range extends only two square miles and it occurs no place else on earth.
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
Three endangered California condor chicks survive Dolan Fire in Big Sur
As the Dolan Fire sweeps through portions of Big Sur along the central California coast, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with the Ventana Wildlife Society and Pinnacles National Park to monitor the status of these critically endangered birds.
“The California Condor Recovery Program has faced setbacks in the past, but we will continue to work with our dedicated partners, the Ventana Wildlife Society and Pinnacles National Park, toward our ultimate goal of recovering the California condor in the wild,” said Steve Kirkland, condor field coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Left: Bullfrog by Spencer Neuharth/USFWS. Right: Columbia spotted frog by Rachel Van Horne/U.S. Forest Service. One of these frogs is invasive in the western United States.
Invasive or not?
Many invasive species look similar to the local plants and animals that belong in our backyards, deserts, forests and streams. Despite their ability to blend in, invasive species can be destructive to both native plants and animals, and humans.
They are often great adapters, and can outcompete important native species, disrupting ecosystems or causing native or rare species to decline. Conversely, native species help keep our ecosystems healthy and in balance.
People profile: Baker Holden III – A conversation with Lodi Fish and Wildlife Office’s Deputy Project Leader
You’ve worked for the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management, and this is your second stint with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Why did you come back?
I like the mission, and I found the culture was welcoming and one I could thrive in. I saw opportunities here because it’s all about what you do and what you can bring as a person. They’re making a big effort to support diversity, talk about it openly and take concrete steps to move forward.
The Dolan Fire in Monterey County burns in areas of Big Sur known to provide habitat for federally endangered California condors, one of the world’s largest and most critically imperiled birds. Photo courtesy of Kate Novoa and Connie McCoy.
How California Condors and other rare wildlife weather wildland fires
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with land managers and fire response agencies across California to monitor potential impacts of wildland fires on rare wildlife and plants.
“While it’s still too early to understand the long-term impacts of the wildfires on rare wildlife, the primary short-term impact is loss of their habitat,” said Chris Dellith, senior fish and wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Some ecosystems are fire-adapted and require fire to be maintained; in some cases, native plants require fire regeneration as part of their life cycle.
“Over the past 150 years, meadows in the Sierra have deteriorated from a variety of natural and manmade causes,” said Ian Vogel, a wildlife biologist in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sacramento Field Office. Credit: Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS
4 reasons meadow restoration is good for all of us
Meadows are often the subject of beautiful photographs and paintings, with colorful grasses swaying in the wind and creeks winding through the scene. But beyond their beauty, meadows provide important services to people and wildlife.
“Meadows are a great form of green infrastructure,” said Ian Vogel, a wildlife biologist in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sacramento Field Office. “They clean our air, contribute to a reliable water supply and provide essential habitat for wildlife.”
Vogel is part of a network of federal and state agencies and environmental groups known as the Sierra Meadows Partnership. The partnership creates and implements strategies to restore meadows throughout the Sierra.
The western snowy plover is a tiny shorebird with a grey back and dark patches on either side of the neck, behind the eyes and on the forehead. Credit: USFWS
Surf's up! – Celebrating public recreation and shorebird conservation at Surf Beach in Santa Barbara County
In a way that truly embodies the spirit of Californians who banded together to pass the Coastal Act 44 years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California Coastal Commission and the community of Lompoc came together this year to amend a closure policy to provide increased beach access to their closest beach, Surf Beach in Santa Barbara County.
The hot, arid deserts of the Southwest may seem a strange spot for secretive marsh birds, but the Yuma Ridgway’s rail thrive in desert oases like Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada. Credit: USFWS
“Kek!” - the call of the Yuma Ridgway's rail – through collaborative conservation, a rare marsh bird thrives in the desert
On an incandescent July morning at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Nevada, University of Idaho graduate student Eamon Harrity and a field assistant sit along a berm of saltgrass and saltbushes beside a reservoir, fiddling with a Bluetooth speaker. The air is calm and rapidly warming; the dry-paper rustling of dragonfly wings and the drone of horseflies can be clearly heard over the clucking of coots from the reservoir. Suddenly the calm is disrupted by a series of grunt-like “kek” notes emanating from Harrity’s speaker. These are recorded calls of the Yuma Ridgway’s rail, and he hopes to pique the interest of one in the nearby marsh.
David Kissling, front, and Kate Wilcox practice social distancing while sorting through plants and debris to find juvenile salmon collected from a rotary screw trap in the Klamath River. Credit: Aaron Bachelier/USFWS
Going with the flow – Fisheries field crew stays safe and gets the job done
What does a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field crew do when the start of the field season coincides with a rising global pandemic?
The Fish and Aquatic Conservation program in Arcata, California, quickly learned the true meaning of adapt. As they began what would soon become an unprecedented season of monitoring juvenile salmon on the Klamath River, the crew discovered how to navigate the changing times to ‘go with the flow.’
Each spring, as juvenile salmon move downstream – known as outmigration - to the Pacific Ocean the Arcata field team heads to the river to collect crucial data for the Service and its many partners.
Water hyacinth was brought to California for its decorative value, but rampant growth has threatened fish habitats, obstructed boat traffic and blocked agricultural and municipal water intakes. Photo courtesy of Ian Pfingsten, U.S. Geological Survey
Water hyacinth acts like ‘plastic wrap’ on the Delta
Looking at the water hyacinth’s lovely lavender flowers and lush green leaves, it’s easy to see why it was brought here from South America. But too much of a good thing can cause trouble, and few things turn into “too much” as quickly as water hyacinths (Eichhornia crassipes).
Hyacinth plants float on water, where they interlock into dense, sturdy mats. One of the world’s fastest-growing plants, the hyacinth’s mats can double the area they cover in just two weeks.
A monarch butterfly feeds on milkweed that is part of the pollinator garden on Beale Air Force Base. Credit: USFWS
Supporting winged wildlife – Beale Air Force Base is new monarch butterfly hot spot
Beale Air Force Base is known for its fast jets and top pilots, but it’s also gaining recognition as a home for monarch butterflies. Hundreds have been observed stopping to rest at Beale as they travel from their winter home on California’s coast to warmer areas to lay eggs. To support the butterflies’ long journey, Beale has built pollinator gardens that provide essential food and habitat.
“Monarch butterfly populations have declined significantly over the past two decades,” said Cathy Johnson, a scientist in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sacramento Field Office. In addition to serving as the liaison to Beale, Johnson worked extensively on the Service’s national pollinator recovery efforts. “When partners like Beale want to build habitat, we provide all the help we can.”
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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.
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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...
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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...