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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

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


My Day With a Wolf Pack

It’s not often someone gets a chance to spend the day with a pack of wolves, but one of our co-workers, Roya Mogadam (Office of Congessional & Legislative Affairs) did, and she’s here on Open Spaces to tell you about what she took away from that experience.

On the outskirts of San Isabel National Forest is a sanctuary perched atop a steep hill at the end of a mile long dirt driveway.  It’s called Mission: Wolf, a rescue facility with 37 wolves and wolf-dogs.

I visited on a Saturday, a “big feed” day.

Raven howlingRaven howls as feeding time nears at Mission: Wolf


Putting a Stamp on Conservation

The Federal Duck Stamp.  To be honest, before I started working here, I really didn’t know much about it.  Maybe you’re like me, and you don’t know there’s a national art contest to create the new Duck Stamp each year.   If you’re an artist, you may want to consider creating something for the contest.  While time might be running a little thin to submit something this year (entries must be postmarked by midnight on August 15th), maybe you’ll consider entering next year.

2011 Duck StampCurrent Duck Stamp, Artist: James Hautman

What’s the purpose of the Duck Stamp, though?  Of course art contests can be fun, but here’s what it is all about.  Aside from being required for hunting waterfowl, the Duck Stamp serves as a very important conservation tool.  Ninety-eight cents of every dollar generated from Duck Stamps goes directly to buy or lease wetlands for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System, making the Duck Stamp one of the best dollar-for-dollar investments in the future of America’s wetlands.


Reading to Connect with Nature: America's WILD READ

Looking for an exciting read this summer? If you are, we’ve got something to share with you:  America’s WILD READ is a virtual book discussion meant to engage and inspire people to connect with nature. This popular literary discussion forum is a project of the Fish and Wildlife Service's National Conservation Training Center and hosted by the Friends of NCTC.

Building on a successful inaugural read of noted biologist E.O. Wilson’s novel, “Anthill”, America's WILD READ is moving beyond the underworld domain of ants to the expansive panorama of wolves and their prey in the American West.

For the month of August, the WILD READ will feature Montana writer Christina Eisenberg’s book, “The Wolf's Tooth: Keystone Predators, Trophic Cascades, and Biodiversity.” The author herself will engage readers with questions and discussion that examines the role that top-tier predators like sea otters, sharks, and large land mammals play in influencing ecosystems. Applying the concept of a "trophic cascade," Eisenberg’s book unpeels the inner workings of ecosystems -- how predators and prey mutually survive and how nutrients flow in such intertwined relationships.

Author Cristina Eisenberg               Author Cristina Eisenberg, Image Credit: Brent Steiner

Eisenberg will be moderating discussion and has posted some questions to get the conversation started.  Visit America’s WILD READ today at www.wildread.blogspot.com to strike up a conversation with the author, Cristina Eisenberg!

Ohio: A Kid's-Eye View of Climate Change

A young girl sits smiling with a monarch butterfly on her nose

Connecting children with nature can help them learn about the effects of climate change on wildlife and their habitats. USFWS photo by Vicki Sherry. Download.

Multimedia iconPodcast: Author Georgia Parham speaks with USFWS staff Melanie Cheng about “The Climate Change Challenge” game designed to help teach children about climate impacts

Climate change is a complicated, complex issue. But for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff in Ohio, teaching kids about climate change can be as simple as child’s play.

On Earth Day 2011, the Service teamed up with the Columbus Zoo to give children a hands-on look at the impacts of a changing climate on wildlife.  As part of the activities, staff from the Service’s Reynoldsburg Ecological Services Field Office bring a kid’s-eye view to climate change with games and challenges.

Biologist Melanie Cota and assistant Melanie Cheng lead a game called "The Climate Challenge" to help teach children about the impacts on climate change on birds. The young players assume the role of birds faced with a variety of challenges expected to pose actual threats to birds as the climate changes:

The plants that you rely on for food bloomed and fell early because of a warmer spring. There is just barely enough food for you this year, is one of many scenarios faced by players. 

As they play, children see how climate change is affecting birds through food, habitat and migration, from rising sea levels in coastal nesting areas to early hatch of insects before migrating birds arrive. 

“Although this is meant to be a fun game, I think it sends an important message that we all need to pay attention to because we are already starting to see impacts from climate change on our trust resources,” Cheng said.