U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Pacific Southwest Highlights

Puddles, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mascot, at the Kern National Wildlife Refuge Complex in California. Photo by USFWS.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mascot at the Kern National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS

In honor of National Wildlife Refuge Week, take this opportunity for a recreational experience you will never forget

Did you know, aside from foraging and literally surviving, that national wildlife refuge birds wear lots of hats? Our certified greeters will welcome you with open wings.

Check out these photos from various National Wildlife Refuges you can visit...

Parikh kneeling on a green hilltop with more green hills in the background.

Dr. Anuja Parikh is a botanist, wife, sister, daughter and breast cancer survivor. She played an instrumental role in collecting key data to support land managers’ and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s work to recover the San Fernando Valley spineflower.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Nathan Gale

Breast cancer survivor, botanist beats the odds

“Field season is coming,” said Dr. Anuja Parikh. “You can’t just sit around during field season.” She put on her gel prosthesis underneath her field gear, and headed to the day’s survey site: the slopes of Grapevine Mesa in southern California. Her husband, Dr. Nathan Gale, hiked just ahead of her, bushwhacking through some of the heavier brush to protect his wife from the thorny branches.

“The prosthesis was filled with gel, and I didn’t want it to get poked by a shrub and have that stuff oozing out everywhere!” she said. It was the spring of 2000.

Parikh is a botanist, wife, sister, daughter and breast cancer survivor. She played an instrumental role in collecting key data to support land managers’ and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s work to recover the San Fernando Valley spineflower, a tiny buckwheat plant once believed to be extinct in Southern California.

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A Lahontan cutthroat trout caught by an angler in Pyramid Lake.

After the construction of Derby Dam, water flowed towards Fallon, Nevada, the desert turned shades of green and communities expanded, but the shift in water management also took its toll on one of Nevada’s most prized native sportfish, the Lahontan cutthroat trout.
Photo courtesy of Greg Ritland

Back after more than a century – Fish screen to allow iconic Lahontan cutthroat trout to complete natural migration route for first time in over 100 years

In 1905, the same year Albert Einstein introduced E=mc2 to the world, a newly formed U.S. Reclamation Service (now Bureau of Reclamation) unveiled its first large-scale water infrastructure project in Nevada. Commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt, the Derby Dam was constructed to divert water for irrigation from the Truckee River and Pyramid Lake.

With the dam in place, water flowed towards Fallon, Nevada. The desert turned shades of green and communities expanded, but the shift in water management also took its toll on one of Nevada’s most prized native sportfish, the Lahontan cutthroat trout.

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Marsh-in campers tour the restored wetlands on the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS

Marsh-in campers tour the restored wetlands on the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Credit: USFWS

Refuge’s Summer Camp now a community tradition

Thank you for providing an opportunity for our kids to participate in something meaningful this summer, and giving us access to something fun and educational that we likely would not have been able to do financially had there been a fee.”

That’s what a parent had to say about their child’s participation in the 2019 Marsh-In Summer Camp on the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Alviso, California. Every year the Refuge’s Environmental Education Center hosts this unique and cost-free opportunity for local kids to experience nature among wildlife and wetland habitat, in the middle of a densely populated urban area.

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"In a competitive job market, you soon find that it’s a sizeable challenge to find a permanent job. For me, that’s where the Directorate Resource Assistants Fellowship Program came into play," says doctoral candidate Andrew Dennhardt. Credit: USFWS

An intern's story – A Resource Assistants Fellow shares how program boosts budding biologists' careers and brings 'experiences of a lifetime'

On one of my first days as an intern, I heard the call of a male least Bell’s vireo. He was barely visible to the naked eye amidst dense and dark foliage along the Santa Clara River. His call reminded me of why I came here to Ventura, California in the summer of 2019: to help conserve the eloquence of his inimitable song for generations to come.

I arrived at the Ventura U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office in late May, charged with working alongside biologists to study and synthesize historic information on the conservation and management of this rare migratory songbird along one of Southern California’s last remaining natural riverways. With the Ventura team, I produced a management and monitoring plan for the vireo in the Santa Clara River, highlighting future recovery and the means to that end.

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kimi King releasing a tagged monarch butterfly. Credit: USFWS

Akimi King releasing a tagged monarch butterfly. Credit: USFWS

Service employees inspire others with a Sense of Wonder'

Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife biologist Akimi King has won the 2019 Pacific Southwest Region's Sense of Wonder Award. King was recognized for her long-term work with the Connecting People with Nature initiative, her high quality environmental education programming, and her efforts to educate local communities throughout the Klamath Basin about pollinators, especially monarch butterfly conservation.

The Sense of Wonder Recognition Program recognizes a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee who has designed, implemented or shown visionary leadership in an interpretive or environmental education program that fosters a sense of wonder and enhances public stewardship of our wildlife heritage.

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Birders will find California brown pelicans, great egrets (pictured above), marsh wrens, great blue herons, sparrows, and double-crested cormorants year-round at Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve in Santa Barbara, California. Credit: Hazel Rodriguez/USFWS

Birders will find California brown pelicans, great egrets (pictured above), marsh wrens, great blue herons, sparrows, and double-crested cormorants year-round at Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve in Santa Barbara, California.
Credit: Hazel Rodriguez/USFWS

Marsh of Dreams – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, partners build nest platforms and improve habitat at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve

“It’s a very secretive salt marsh bird,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program biologist Colleen Grant. “You could be 20 feet away from them, but you'll never see them.”

The light-footed Ridgway’s rail (formerly known as light-footed clapper rail) once inhabited the wetlands that occupied California’s coast, from Santa Barbara County to San Quintin Bay in Baja California, Mexico. Today, the species ranges from southern Ventura County to Ensenada. The last sighting of the rail in Santa Barbara County’s Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve was in 2004.

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Recovery Champions

Klamath Basin Sucker Recovery Team members with their Recovery Champion awards at the sucker rearing facility near Klamath Falls.
Credit: Mike Long/USFWS

Recovery Champions – Klamath Basin sucker program team receives 2018 conservation award

On Endangered Species Day in May, 10 members of the Klamath Basin sucker recovery team, eight former and current U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees and two external partners were selected as the Pacific Southwest Region Recovery Champions for 2018.

Members of the team are: Mike Senn, deputy assistant regional director, Ecological Services; Dan Blake, Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office field supervisor; Evan Childress, sucker program supervisor; Josh Rasmussen, fish biologist; Joel Ophoff, fish technician; and former Service employees Laurie Sada, Kirk Groves and Julie Day; and external partners Ron Barnes and Tracey Liskey.

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California's Central Valley plays a critical role in supporting western monarch butterflies. Farmers can help by planting milkweed and other nectar-rich flowers that bloom in the spring and early fall alongside their primary crops. Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

California's Central Valley plays a critical role in supporting western monarch butterflies. Farmers can help by planting milkweed and other nectar-rich flowers that bloom in the spring and early fall alongside their primary crops.
Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

Monarchs need your help – New guide explains how farmers can bolster butterfly populations

Over the past few decades, monarch populations across the United States have declined, and they need your help.

The western population has especially hit a record low, decreasing 99 percent since the 1980s.

From October to February, most monarch butterflies spend the winter along the California coast, and then migrate inland in the spring for breeding. California’s Central Valley is an important part of the western monarch’s range, both for breeding in the early spring and for supporting the butterflies as they move through the region during their migrations.

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A youngster from the Bob Price Community Center proudly displays the huge weed she pulled from one of the tortoise habitats at the Gilcrease Orchard in Las Vegas. <br>
                    Credit: Dan Balduini/USFWS

A youngster from the Bob Price Community Center proudly displays the huge weed she pulled from one of the tortoise habitats at the Gilcrease Orchard in Las Vegas.
Credit: Dan Balduini/USFWS

A helping hand – Las Vegas orchard provides fresh produce, safe homes for owls, and now, tortoises

In the far northwest part of the Las Vegas Valley, surrounded by housing developments, the Gilcrease Orchard is a popular spot where people can purchase fresh, seasonal produce throughout the year and perhaps catch a glimpse of some native wildlife.

The orchard became a non-profit foundation more than 20 years ago in order to save one of the last vestiges of agriculture in the Las Vegas Valley.

The foundation has been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for about 10 years to provide protected land for burrowing owls.

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A scene from Rice Canyon in the Ojai Valley after the Thomas Fire. Photo courtesy of Nathan Wickstrum/OVLC

Solar energy planners in Nye County, Nevada hope to alleviate any impacts to habitat for the endangered desert tortoise, like the one shown above near Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Dana Wilson/BLM

Can desert tortoises and solar arrays co-exist?
One solar energy facility in southern Nevada is helping to answer that question

Motorists driving into or out of Pahrump on Nevada Route 160 pass by it every day. On the east side of the highway north of town, about a mile beyond the Calvada Meadows Airport, drivers might notice a shining array of community solar panels.

What they see is an 80-acre solar site on East Simkins Road which provides electricity to homes in Nye County, Nevada. Solar power facilities are now common sights in the Mojave Desert. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chose to make this one a bit different.

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Winter-run juvenile Chinook salmon are loaded into a tanker truck for transport to the Battle Creek release site as part of a reintroduction plan to repopulate winter Chinook salmon into upper Battle Creek. Credit: Jake Sisco/USFWS

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.

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