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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

Meet the Species: Madtom

By Brynn Walling, USFWS

The peak flow of water in the Neosho River drainage in Kansas, occurs in June and July.  This is also the time that the federally protected Neosho madtoms (a fish) begin spawning.  That means that there are currently madtom eggs being fertilized in Kansas as we post this blog! 

madtomMadtom (Photo: USFWS)

Neosho madtoms are a federally threatened species in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. These catfish face habitat loss due to dam construction. They are also affected by deteriorating water quality due to zinc-lead mining, agricultural runoff, and increased urbanization and industrialization.  These small catfish only grow to be about 3 inches long and  are only found in 4 locations. Not only are they scarce due to small populations, but they are bottom-dwelling night feeders, so they are a hard fish to spot anyways.      


Marvelous Millerbird Recovery

By Brynn Walling, USFWS

Aloha! Today we are taking you to the Hawaiian Islands so that you can get to know your species! Specifically, we are talking about the Nihoa millerbird. This species was listed as endangered in 1967, preceding the Endangered Species Act. Since then, a translocation project has been implemented to help the existing population flourish.

(Check out this video of the millerbird!)

Millerbirds are small birds, only about 5 inches long. The females tend to be slightly smaller than the males. They have dark olive and olive brown feathers with white bellies.

Until recently, Millerbirds could only be found on the Nihoa Island. Their population has ranged from 30 – 800 over the last 100 years. Since all of the birds lived in only one location, this increased their chance of extinction. A translocation project was put into place to help conserve Nihoa millerbirds and expand their range and secure their future. Two separate translocations were completed. In 2011, 24 birds were moved to Laysan Island. The next year, 26 more birds were taken to the island.

This translocation project has been successful thus far. Not only has it helped the Millerbird population, but has increased the Hawaiian ancestral knowledge as well. In fact, Nihoa has become a popular name among the Hawaiian residents!

Find out more about the history of the Hawaiian Island and the millerbirds role throughout by watching this great video:

Each week, throughout this ruby anniversary year of the Endangered Species Act, we’ll highlight stories of conservation success in every state across the country. Stay tuned!

Boost for Beetles: An ESA Success Story

By Brynn Walling, USFWS

We not only protect threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, but we also strive to prevent species from being put on the list. A great example of this recently took place in Kentucky.

Kentucky is known for its extensive cave systems. Within these caves lives four beetle species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Those species are the greater and lesser Adams cave beetle, beaver cave beetle and surprising cave beetle.


Greater Adam cave beetle (Photo: M. McGregor/Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources)


ESA At A Glance: Another Photo Essay Just For You!

By Brynn Walling, USFWS

This week, we're bringing you more great images and success stories.

And don't forget to check out this interactive map, which allows you to keep up with plants and wildlife in your neck of the woods. Also, visit our 40th anniversary page to track all of our great success stories throughout the year.

U.S. Breeding Population of Wood Storks: Back from the Edge
A low-flying wood stork at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.
(Photo: Tom MacKenzie/USFWS)

A Strong Partnership Protects Interior Least Terns and Piping Plovers
A piping plover with identifying colored leg bands help biologists gain valuable information.
(Photo: Mary Bomberger Brown)

We are the Penobscot River
A project at Sedgeunkedunk Stream in Orrington has reconnected sea-run fish in this stream to 1,300 acres of pond habitat. 
(Photo : USFWS)

North Carolina
Putting mussels on the path to recovery in North Carolina
Service biologist John Fridell uses a clear bottomed viewer to search for Appalachian elktoes in Tuckasegee River. (Photo: Gary Peeples/USFWS)

The Oregon Chub Makes Its Way Upstream Towards Recovery
 Oregon chub. (Photo: USFWS)

Each week, throughout this ruby anniversary year of the Endangered Species Act, we’ll highlight stories of conservation success in every state across the country.

Celebrating a Successful Recovery for a Snail

By Brynn Walling, USFWS

Slow and steady wins the race!

This week we announced some great news for the Magazine Mountain shagreen snail. In 1989 the snail was listed as a threatened species due to habitat loss and development affects to the land.

Now, 24 years later, the snail is the first ever invertebrate to recover and be removed from the Endangered Species Act!

snail_delist(What a success story! Photo: USFWS)

These snails have a dusky brown colored shell and can only be found in Logan County, Arkansas mainly on the Magazine Mountain. This is a major success story for Arkansas. 


How Will You Leave Your Legacy?

One of the latest trending themes in the Fish in Wildlife Service is for employees to answer the question “How will you leave your legacy?”

The many answers can be found by searching the #LeaveYourLegacy across our various social media sites.

Every 3 years the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes an employee, or group of employees, for collaborating with partners to promote ecosystem sustainability while meeting the requirements for our nation’s ever changing transportation needs. This recognition is called the Environmental Stewardship Excellence Award. In order to be considered for the award, an individual or group has to be nominated, and then a panel of judges assesses the nominations and selects a winner.


A Special ESA Photo Essay, Just For You!

As you know, the Endangered Species Act is turning 40 this year.

As our gift to you, this week we present a glorious photo essay, highlighting some of the states and species we've featured on Open Spaces so far.


Protecting Our Waters: The mussels of Virginia's Clinch and Powell Rivers

(Photo: Gary Peeples/USFWS)


Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel: Journey to Recovery

(Photo: USFWS)


Illinois's Unique Places and Species

(Photo: P. Burton/USFWS)


Whoopers Return to Louisiana After 60 Years

(Photo: Sara Zimorski, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries)


A Rocky Mountain Success Story

(Photo: Colorado Division of Wildlife)

Each week, throughout this ruby anniversary year of the Endangered Species Act, we’ll highlight stories of conservation success in every state across the country. Stay tuned!

Think You Know All There is About the Texas Blind Salamander? Think Again!

By Brynn Walling, USFWS

Texas blind salamanders are rare but fascinating creatures.

This cave dwelling amphibian is a pinkish translucent color and grows to be around 5 inches long. They are fairly slender and fair-legged and about half of their body length comes from their tails alone.

blind_salamanderWho needs eyes when you've got a tail that long? (Photo: USFWS)

Impress your friends with these five fun facts:


Good Recovery Stories from the Golden State

By Brynn Walling, USFWS

We are now four months into our year-long commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, and this week we’re highlighting the state with the highest number of endangered and threatened animals — California.

You may already know about some of the rare animals of the Golden State, like the California condor or the desert tortoise, but there are hundreds of unique species that call this state home — many of them occur nowhere else in the world!

fairy_shrimpThe vernal pool fairy shrimp. (Photo: Dwight Harvey/USFWS)

An example is vernal pool fairy shrimp. Like its name suggests, this tiny crustacean lives in vernal pools, some as small as a puddle, and others the size of a small lake. The term ‘fairy’ comes from its ability to gracefully swim on its back. Actually, you will only find this species swimming on their back!


Barrier Beach Restoration Benefits Everyone

By Brynn Walling USFWS

Who, what, when, where, why, and how?

We have all the answers for you regarding the Barrier Beach Restoration Project on Long Beach West in Stratford, Connecticut

longbeachLong Beach faced stormy times, but has since been restored. (Photo: USFWS)

Long Beach was once a bustling summer community, with dozens of summer cottages. In 1996, a fire burnt down the bridge connecting the beach to the mainland. Thereafter the cottages remained vacant.


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