U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Priority Conservation Issues
- Imperiled Ecosystems
The Service is working with a variety of stakeholders to enhance communication and collaboration through the development of a landscape-scale conservation vision for the Northern Tallgrass Prairie (NTP). It is estimated that less than 200,000 acres of prairie remain today in the U.S. portion of the NTP. Of what prairie does remain, most are small scattered parcels with little or no value for wildlife.
The Service's role in protection and restoration of Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands is in developing innovative partnerships with local and statewide land trusts and other conservation partners to identify and protect some of the most valuable fish and wildlife habitat and species in the Great Lakes Basin.
- Invasive Species
The spread of invasive species is considered one of the most serious ecological problems facing the United States in the 21st century. Prevention, early detection and rapid response are essential elements to preventing major damage to ecosystems and the economies.
- Water-Related Issues
The origin of Gulf Hypoxia is through point and non-point sources of nitrates that are derived from watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin. The hypoxic zone forms in the middle of the most important commercial and recreational fisheries in the coterminous United States and could threaten the economy of this region of the Gulf of Mexico.
A recent agricultural trend, called pattern tiling, is to more completely drain partially drained wetlands or to add subsurface drainage to entire fields, including existing wetlands, former wetlands, and uplands. There are currently no regulatory controls on subsurface drainage unless the practice directly drains a jurisdictional wetland.
Fish in lakes and rivers have evolved life cycle migratory patterns that require the seasonal availability of a variety of river habitats. Unfortunately, thousands of artificial barriers were constructed to impound and redirect water for irrigation, flood control, electricity, drinking water, and transportation. The goal of the Fish Passage Program is to restore native fish and other aquatic species to self-sustaining levels by reconnecting habitats that have been fragmented by artificial barriers.
- Emerging Issues
Recent concerns over global warming have led scientists to identify ways to reduce greenhouse emissions. One way is to mitigate the increased emission of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere by sequestering carbon in our land. Carbon sequestration refers to the concept of long-term storage of carbon in the terrestrial biosphere, underground, or in the oceans so that the buildup of carbon dioxide (the principal greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere will reduce or slow.
- Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region Priority Species
How can the Service support the needs of those species in greatest need of conservation attention? By focusing conservation and management actions toward those species and ecosystems in greatest need and where opportunities for success are greatest. In 1997, a group of Region 3 employees produced a list of 243 Regional Resource Conservation Priorities considered to be those species in most need of immediate conservation attention under the Service's full span of authorities.