U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Pacific Southwest Highlights

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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This fish is the first to return from the 214,000 juveniles released last spring as part of a jump start program aimed at bolstering the endangered fish’s population after extreme drought in 2014 and 2015  Credit: Jacie Knight/USFWS

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.

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hese 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.

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.

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Condor nest camera

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.

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Pre-restoration, this section of the 2,300-acre South San Diego Bay unit was entirely underwater. Now it's a booming ecosystem. Credit: Rebecca Fabbri/USFWS

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.”

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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

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.

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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

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.

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

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.

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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

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.

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

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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