Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin
Into the darkness: Imperiled spring-run Chinook salmon released into upper San Joaquin River
When almost 90,000 3-inch spring-run Chinook salmon shot into the darkness of the Eastside Bypass of the San Joaquin River the night of March 6, they didn’t get there alone. It took a strong, collaborative effort. Credit: Steve Martarano/USFWS
Return of the Rescue-Reared Salamanders
Ellicott Slough National Wildlife Refuge manager Diane Kodama and her colleagues undertook a delicate, first-of-its-kind captive rearing of endangered Santa Cruz long-toed salamanders, helping them to survive California's historic drought. Credit: USFWS
'Share the Shore' with one of California’s tiniest shore birds
Coastline visitors will be sharing beaches with smaller residents as spring breeding season approaches for the snowy plover. Credit: USFWS
Early risers get the birds...sometimes
Once a month from September to February, staff and volunteers gather at refuges across the west for waterfowl surveys. Here, Sand Hill Cranes pass in front of the setting sun over Pixley National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Byrhonda Lyons/USFWS
How a Simple Silver Bracelet is Aiding Conservation
Biologists band more than 200,000 ducks and nearly 150,000 geese and swans in North America each year.
Credit: Vincent Griego/USFWS
Conservation Couple: Award-Winning, First Gen Ranchers
In less than twenty years, Mike and Kathy Landini went from building custom homes to first-gen ranchers and award winning conservationists. Shown here, Mike rotates cows to another pasture. Credit: Kathy Landini
Immigrant Children Connect with Nature in Their New Home
Adapting to their new life in the U.S., Anza Elementary School children are transforming themselves through their new schoolyard habitat project. Credit: Vicky Bonnett for USFWS
Saving a Rare Desert Fish on the Brink of Extinction
A rare species of desert fish fighting for its survival in southern Nevada – the Pahrump poolfish. One of the last remaining populations of the endangered fish is at alarmingly low numbers – below 1,000, compared to 10,000 recorded in 2015. Credit: Enrique Villar/USFWS
Pacific Southwest Highlights
Public affairs specialist Byrhonda Lyons and outreach specialist Laura Mahoney put together this video showing the spawning process at Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Anderson, Calif. Watch it here. Credit: Steve Martarano/USFWS
Steelhead, Chinook salmon spawning at Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Northern Calif.
When it’s spawning season at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Anderson, Calif., all hands are on deck. From October to March, hatchery employees spawn Steelhead and Chinook salmon twice a week.
The hatchery hosts an annual Salmon Festival on the third Saturday of October to show visitor how spawning works. However, since October is months away, here’s a behind-the-scenes video of spawning at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery. -- Byrhonda Lyons
IN HER OWN WORDS: Service biologist Rachel Williams describes her work recording the locations of Eastern Sierra monarchs and their milkweed food sources. Credit: USFWS
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Tracking the Eastern Sierra Monarch
Like ducks and caribou, monarch butterflies migrate with the changing seasons. As the weather cools and plants begin to go dormant in the fall, monarchs fly to warmer areas to overwinter.
As a biologist in a remote part of California nestled between the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and the Great Basin desert, I have been working with other scientists and volunteers to try to learn more about the migration patterns of western monarchs.
Last summer, with the help of volunteers citizen scientists, we began recording locations of Eastern Sierra monarchs and their milkweed food sources.
Roy Averill-Murray never thought his future would revolve around saving desert tortoises, but he has become the Service's top desert tortoise biologist.
Credit: Cecil Schwalbe
Service biologist creating an 'era of better research'
As someone who grew up fond of snakes, Roy Averill-Murray never thought his future would revolve around saving desert tortoises. Yet his 26 published journal articles, primarily focused on desert tortoise conservation only skim the surface of his efforts to keep these modern dinosaurs thriving in the wild.
He was the first person to document the reproduction of that species and with several papers published; he’s now working on an analysis that highlights the differences between Sonoran Desert tortoise and Mojave Desert tortoise reproduction.
Service biologist Clark Winchell (right) and conservation intern Stella Yuan collect data on the San Bernardino flying squirrel's habitat in the San Bernadino National Forest. Credit: Joshua Ray/USFWS
Learning the secret life of flying squirrels
Flying squirrels have inhabited southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains for thousands of years, but most people have never seen one.
Now, a group of 50 citizen scientists, supported by a number of federal, state and local organizations, are trying to change that.
Most residents of San Bernardino mountain towns aren’t “even aware flying squirrels are up here,” says Nole Lilley, one of the citizen scientists studying the squirrels.
A solitary monarch in Goleta Butterfly Grove in Goleta, Calif. Recent monarch population estimates are a mere fraction of the 1.2 million monarchs recorded annually in the late 1990s. Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS
Monarch overwintering numbers remain low in the West despite increased conservation efforts
Monarch butterflies are an astonishing insect, especially in the winter. They migrate to Mexico and the coast of California, form dense clusters high up in the trees and hunker down until spring./
In 1997, a few scientists and volunteers in California, inspired by these orange and black clusters, began an organized effort to estimate the number of butterflies wintering along the central California coast, and the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count was born.
Known for its tule elk and wildlife habitat, the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge has been a part of the San Joaquin Valley since 1967. Credit: Meg Laws/USFWS
50 Years Later: A Community Still Invested
An avid birder and photographer, Rick Lewis is a regular at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in Los Banos, Calif. On weekends and holidays, he makes the 100-mile trek south from Alameda, Calif., to explore the refuge.
“It’s [the refuge] spectacular,” Lewis said. “I don’t know what it looked like 100 years ago, but as a birder and photographer, the refuge is paradise.”
Known for its tule elk and wildlife habitat, the refuge has been a part of the San Joaquin Valley since 1967. Authorized 50 years ago through the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the refuge’s original size conserved 7,360 acres in the valley.
A close up of the Quino checkerspot butterfly larvae (caterpillars). Credit: Tammy Spratt/San Diego Zoo
Once vanished, rare butterfly reintroduced on San Diego National Wildlife Refuge
A team of biologists from the San Diego Zoo, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San Diego State University and the Conservation Biology Institute released 742 larvae of the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) onto the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge last December, the first-ever captive-rearing attempts for this butterfly species.
Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge staff and volunteers recently rebuilt a six-foot fence to help protect nesting California least terns. “Without the fence we probably wouldn’t have any tern productivity, and all the eggs or chicks would likely be eaten by either ground or avian predators,” said refuge manager Kirk Gilligan. Credit: John Fitch/USFWS
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: When Survival Depends On Keeping Predators Out
It’s not easy being a tern in southern California.
Due to habitat loss from development and human use of beaches during nesting season, endangered California least terns are left nesting in small areas, making them highly vulnerable to predators.
At the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge, south of Los Angeles, Calif., staff and volunteers recently rebuilt a six-foot chain-link and electrified fence to help protect the birds from ground predators.
A male green sea turtle washed ashore on Vancouver Island, British Columbia last winter. Luckily, he made a full recovery and was released back into the ocean off the coast of southern California. Credit: Jen R/FlickrCC
Lucky Sea Turtle Returns to Its Pacific Ocean Home
In the midst of winter, a green sea turtle suffering from severe hypothermia washed ashore at Combers Beach, located in Canada’s Pacific Rim National Park. Parks Canada staff discovered the ailing and nearly lifeless turtle, and quickly transported him to the nearest marine mammal rescue facility.
“Comber,” named for the beach of its rescue, is the only sea turtle found stranded as far north as Canada, to undergo rehabilitation and survive.
While Canada is an unexpected place for a sea turtle to land, the closest rescue facility, the Vancouver Aquarium, had the capacity and expertise to provide Comber a perfect place to recover.
"Pacific Southwest Highlights" presents the latest news about the region. See Our Archives of Past Articles
Sign up to receive our latest news and features via email at GovDelivery.com.
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 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 here in California, Nevada and the Klamath Basin. After you've visited FieldNotes, follow us on these social media channels...