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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

Emergency Response to Elephant Poaching in Cameroon

Today's guest blogger, Dirck Byler, is a Program Officer for the Great Ape Conservation Fund with the Service's International Affairs office in Arlington, Virginia. Today, he shares a story about his recent trip to Cameroon.

In February, I was in Cameroon to meet with students attending the Garoua Wildlife College, a regional institution supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The College trains young professionals from French-speaking Africa in wildlife management.

community in CameroonCommunities in northern Cameroon surrounding Bouba Ndjida National Park. Photo: Dirck Byler/USFWS

While in Cameroon, reports filled my inbox on the slaughter of as many as 500 elephants in Bouba Ndjida National Park. However, the facts of these reports were disputed. Little detail was available on what interventions, if any, were being made to prevent further poaching.


Implementing the Refuge Vision

Remember our entries on Open Spaces last summer from the Conserving the Future Conference in Madison? Well, charting a bright future for the National Wildlife Refuge System didn’t stop there. Here’s an update on the implementation of the vision document that came out of the conference.

Transparency was a driving principle when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed Conserving the Future as the vision that will guide the National Wildlife Refuge System for the next decade.  That same transparency is evident as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service begins implementing the vision. 

Implementation Plan Cover


Photo Tour: Winter Wonderland

Today marks the offical first day of the winter solstice!  

To celebrate, we've put together a photo tour of some beautiful shots taken around the country. So sit back, curl up with a warm cup of cocoa, and enjoy the winter sights without stepping foot out into the cold!

Deer in SnowBuck in snow, Photo Rich Keen/RMA


Rabbit Rescue at San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge

When you were a child, did you read Watership Down, a tale of a herd of rabbits who leave their home before it is destroyed to find a new land? In the book, most of the dangers that Fiver, Hazel and the other rabbits must overcome are caused by people. 

Similar to the book, last March, endangered riparian brush rabbits at San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge in Calfornia faced a serious threat to their homes. In this real-life story of survival, however, the people in the story played protagonists, not the villains of the book.

When post-winter flooding along the San Joaquin and Stanislaus rivers began to threaten the rabbits, the Endangered Species Recovery Program and San Joaquin River Refuge staff mobilized to bring 125 rabbits to safety.


The Weekly Wrap: November 13th - November 20th

We're another week into fall here at Open Spaces, which means it's time for the weekly wrap.  If you missed a story, just click on one of the headlines or the pictures below for the full article. As always, please leave us a comment and let us know how we are doing!

Thank You, Veterans!

Nearly 1,400 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees are military veterans, many of whom continue to serve in Reserve and National Guard units across the country. We thank each one of our veterans, and honor their service to our nation. 
Mike Crocker

5 Green Building Projects from our National Wildlife Refuge System

We are going green.  Did you know that we're working to make our facilities, our vehicles--and everything else for that mattter--completely carbon neutral in just 8 years?  It's true!  

To meet our 2020 goal, we're designing, building, and refurbishing in a way that cuts our reliance on greenhouse gases and saves taxpayer dollars

Here are five (now award winning) sustainable design projects from around the Refuge System that you probably didn’t know about. If you live in the area, be sure to check them out in person!

Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge

This Sudbury, Massachusetts Refuge now boats 5,879 square-foot sustainably designed visitor center. The building features passive solar architecture, a cool roof, daylighting and much more. The 19 megawatt-hours of renewable power generated offsets 13.1 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Low flow plumbing fixtures and waterless urinals conserve 3,000 gallons of water a year. 


Canines Remembered for Valiant Service

As we take time to honor our veterans, we may also remember those who serve on four legs.  Just in time for Veterans Day, a group of veteran K-9 handlers has found the original records on two Army dogs buried on land now owned by the Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland.

Falko and Rinnie were both Sentry Dogs. That means they protected the bases where they were stationed, alerting their handlers to anything out of the ordinary. 

Phil Carroll, a Service retiree and now the president of the Vietnam Security Police Association, served with an Air Force Sentry Dog named Tina. As he says, “On our posts guarding the perimeter of the bases with their millions of dollars worth of combat aircraft, sleeping aircrews, late-working flight crews and support staff, Tina and I were a perfect team. I trusted her without reservation to tell me if anyone or anything approached in the night – she trusted me to keep her safe and healthy, and to understand and react appropriately to her alerts."

Phil Carroll and his dog, Tina


Everything You Need to Know About This Weekend's Federal Duck Stamp Contest

This Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28, and Oct. 29, we’re holding the nation’s oldest government-sponsored art contest and the most prestigious wildlife art competition - the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. The winner will see his or her art made into the 2012-2013 Federal Duck Stamp, which will raise millions of dollars for conservation.

Last Year's Winning Stamp from James Hautman


Fee Free Days 2012: The Big Dates that You Need to Know

Everyone likes free, right?  Today, the Department of the Interior announced the 2012 federal fee free (try saying that three times) days on public lands like National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges.  

While many of us are just getting into the autumnal mood, 2012 is right around the corner. It's never too early to start planning that dream family vacation or reflective long weekend in the outdoors.


Preserving Change: The Southern Cone Grassland Alliance

We have a guest blogger at Open Spaces today! Haley McKey is a communications intern at the Office of Migratory Birds at Service Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.  She recently graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in biology.  Her interest in conservation in South America inspired her to highlight the Southern Cone Grassland Alliance.

We are entering into our third week of autumn here at Open Spaces. From shorter days to turning leaves, the signs of change are all around us. For bird lovers, the most dramatic sign of change may be the flocks of migratory birds flying high over-head en route to warmer climates. 

We work to protect migratory birds, and like all species, that work begins with the preservation of natural habitats. It’s hard enough to protect the habit for a cave beetle that spends an entire lifetime within a small, isolated area, but what about migratory birds, whose migrations take them across multiple habitats stretching over many countries and international borders?

Boblink in flightPhoto Credit: Anibal Parara/Birdlife International


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