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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Corpus Christi Municipal Marina a Showplace for Sport Fish Restoration Grants

  Corpus Christi Municipal Marina Corpus Christi Municipal Marina. Photo by City of Corpus Christi

Craig Springer in our Southwest Region tells us about the revitalized Corpus Christi Municipal Marina.

The journey of many miles starts with the first step. The renovation of the Corpus Christi Municipal Marina dates back to the year 2000, when the first of what would become seven grants from our Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) was made available to modernize the popular boating facility. 

Sixteen years later, boaters and anglers from across the United States and around the world come to the Texas Gulf Coast to enjoy a top-notch marina for boats big and little. It’s an excellent launch point for near-shore anglers and recreational boaters on long sojourns.

“This marina is hugely important to both boaters and anglers on the Texas Gulf Coast, and exemplifies how the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program works in partnership with others to improve boating access and infrastructures,” says Cliff Schleusner, Chief of WSFR in the Southwest Region.  “Boaters and anglers paid for it in excise taxes, and now they and others reap the benefits.”

The WSFR Program stems from two acts of Congress, laws originally enacted in 1937 and 1950 that laid the path for a user-pay, user-benefit system where the outcome is improved hunting and fishing and boating. Manufacturers and importers of firearms, ammo, archery gear, boats and motors and fuel, and fishing gear pay excise taxes to the federal government.  That tax is passed on to consumers at the cash register. That little bit extra is held in trust by the WSFR Program and reapportioned in grants, like the ones received by the Corpus Christi Municipal Marina.

Since 2000, the marina has received $1,764,050 in federal funds via WSFR grants, specifically targeted at an improved marina infrastructure, access for boaters and improved sanitary facilities to maintain clean water. The grant monies, matched by the City of Corpus Christi and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, have built modern septic pump-outs, restrooms and showers, a laundry, meeting rooms, a four-lane boat ramp, and more than 80 slips for boats greater than 26 feet in length.  The City of Corpus Christi dedicated the most recent work—35 slips for boats 30 to 45 feet in length—in a ceremony in May.

The new infrastructure replaces outdated and decayed materials, and it should better withstand the forces of hurricanes that may hit the coast. Part of the infrastructure upgrade includes Internet systems needed for navigation.

“Boating and angling are to Corpus Christi and the Texas Gulf Coast what finance is to Wall Street: inseparable,” says Schleusner. “The upgrades made to the Corpus Christi Municipal Marina should be a boon to boating and business.”

To learn more about the WSFR Program in the Southwest Region, visit: www.fws.gov/southwest/federal_assistance

Son Helps FWS Museum Preserve Memory of Wilderness Act's Howard Zahniser

   Howard Zahniser
Howard Zahniser. Wilderness areas refresh and preserve the soul, and reinforce our national pride in the beauty and majesty of our nation’s wild spaces

Ed Zahniser, a longtime employee of the National Park Service in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, as an editor of park brochures and literature, has been monumental in keeping alive the legacy of his father, famed conservationist Howard Zahniser.

Howard Zahniser was the primary author of the Wilderness Act of 1964. A school teacher piqued his interest in birds and birding. In 1930, “Zahnie” began working for the Bureau of Biological Survey (later the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) where he remained until 1942. There he worked under J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling and Ira N. Gabrielson, and absorbed the love of wilderness from naturalists Edward N. Preble, Olaus J. Murie and others. In 1945, Zahnie went to work for The Wilderness Society as its Executive Secretary and Editor of The Living Wilderness. With David Brower and the Sierra Club, he helped lead the successful fight in the early 1950s to defeat the proposed Echo Park Dam in Dinosaur National Monument. After decades of lobbying and innumerable drafts that he wrote and edited, the Wilderness Act was signed on September 3, 1964. Sadly Howard Zahniser, who devoted so much of his life to the act, died on May 5, 1964, several months before the bill became the first of its kind law protecting wilderness. The Wilderness Act now protects more than 110 million wild and beautiful acres in the United States –  20 million of those acres within the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Ed has donated numerous documents, photographs and objects to the Fish and Wildlife Service Museum and Archives.  From old LPs of Howard Zahniser’s speeches and radio broadcasts to auspicious photos and manuscripts, the museum dispenses information to researchers and the public on the important contributions of Howard to the country and to those who cherish and enjoy pristine wilderness areas. 

More information about the FWS Museum/Archives, located in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, or our history in general can be found at: https://nctc.fws.gov/history/index.html or https://www.facebook.com/USFWSHISTORY.


Summer’s On at Your National Wildlife Refuges

Quick. What does summer bring to mind? Ice cream. Belly flops. National wildlife refuges.

National wildlife refuges? That’s right. These tranquil wildlife oases — located in all 50 states and U.S. territories — serve up tons of summer fun, from paddling to hiking and from netting butterflies to catching your very first fish. Don’t be surprised if you spot a groundhog, a kingfisher or some other elusive creature along the scenic way. And judging by visitors’ enthusiasm, the secret is out.

“Glorious Summer” — the second in the National Wildlife Refuge System’s new series of weekly online stories — offers a dazzling look at some of the most popular seasonal sights and goings-on at national wildlife refuges.

Here’s a preview of just some of what you’ll find this summer.

Visitor favorites:
bison on the prairiePhoto by Scott Fairbairn at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

Say hey, big guy. North America’s largest living land mammal is now our national mammal. What kid wouldn’t thrill to see a bison? (For that matter, what adult?) Find this beast and others in the wild at refuges. Great places to see bison include: Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa (pictured here) and Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado.

Fun for the kids:  

Learning in nature can be a blast. Family-friendly interpretive programs on refuges include nighttime sea turtle walks at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Florida and nature walks at John Heinz  National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia. In photo, youngsters guess the weight of elk antlers while visiting the historic Miller Ranch at National Elk Refuge in Wyoming.

Elk antler programPhoto: Lori Iverson, USFWS

Natural wonders:

Prepare to feel chills up your spine. How? By heading into the woods after dark to hear the howls of endangered red wolves in one of their last natural habitats. Guided wolf howls take place Wednesday nights in summer at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in Manteo, North Carolina.
howling with the wolves at Alligator River NWR
Photo: Steve Hillebrand, USFWS


paddling Upper Klamath(Photo: Steve Hymon)

Summer is a great time to explore water trails on national wildlife refuges. Immerse yourself in nature while you paddle the 9.5-mile Upper Klamath Canoe Trail leading through a freshwater marsh at Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.


Read the full story: “Glorious Summer.”

We hope you’ll also check out our homepage, and share your thoughts, photos and videos with us on FacebookTwitter, Flickr and YouTube. Like what you see? Please share what you find with your friends and family. Thanks! See you on a refuge!

Compiled by Susan Morse, USWFS

What It Means to be a Salt Marsh Intern

 Salt marsh intern Bridget Chalifour and Technician Toni Mikula in the process of installing a Surface Elevation Table. Salt marsh intern Bridget Chalifour and Technician Toni Mikula in the process of installing a Surface Elevation Table. Because a footprint can undo years of sediment accumulation and thus throw off measurements, the team must stay on special platforms to do their work.

Bridget Chalifour is a salt marsh intern at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine. A what? you ask. Salt marshes are coastal wetlands that are regularly inundated with tidal salt water, and they are vastly important to the environment  and humanity. Read on to find what Bridget does and why.  

   A Surface Elevation Table, or SET.
A Surface Elevation Table, or SET. Photo by Bridget Chalifour  

In my day-to-day life as a college student, I often wonder what the lasting impact of my time in the classroom will be. When will I use this piece of advanced Calculus? Will people generations from now remember me for the concoction I made in my chemistry lab? But as a salt marsh intern working in the Land Management Research Demonstration (LMRD) office at Rachel Carson Refuge, I never doubt that my work will greatly influence and aid future researchers.

Every day, I am involved in the Salt Marsh Integrity (SMI) Assessment Project. This ongoing survey aims to provide a standardized integrity score (an overall assessment of health) of area salt marshes with regard to factors like nekton (free-swimming fish and shrimp) richness and density, native vegetation cover, water levels, and surface elevation. Data like these will report the overall health of salt marshes for years to come.

When I am knee-deep in a mucky pool, I know that the nekton I am sampling will provide an essential baseline not only for new interns in the following year, but for all scientists working to effectively manage salt marshes in the near and distant future. When I am jack-hammering 20 steel rods into the earth during a Surface Elevation Table (SET) installation, I hope that the "monument" I built will stand against the seasons and help LMRD scientists monitor the rising and sinking of the marsh surface long after my summer in Maine is over. Even when the days are long and the weather is hot and muggy, I take comfort in the fact that the LMRD office’s efforts are critical for evaluating and improving management methods. Then, I take a swig of water and get back to work.

   Salt marsh intern Bridget Chalifour, in mid-nekton sampling stance.
  Salt marsh intern Bridget Chalifour, ready for nekton sampling. Photo by Nadine Hyde

To me, being a salt marsh intern is much more than the temporary rush of a plentiful catch in a nekton throw trap or a productive day of SET readings — being a salt marsh intern is the permanent satisfaction of working toward a cause greater than yourself. It is being part of a project that will help preserve ecosystems and measure successes for decades to come. It will sustain the services the marsh provides to the public, from filtering groundwater to providing a blissful kayaking creek. What pop quiz can say that?










Operation Crash Team Could Win Prestigious Government ‘Oscar’ Award – Polls Now Open!

   baby rhinoFirst black baby rhino born on Kenyan sanctuary.  Photo by nrt-kenya.org

In May, we were delighted to learn that Law Enforcement Deputy Chief Ed Grace and his Operation Crash team were named as finalists in the “Oscars” of government service, and voting is now open for the “People’s Choice” award.

Ed and team were nominated in the Homeland Security and Law Enforcement category of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals. Named after the founder of the Partnership for Public Service, the prestigious “Sammies” highlight the best work of our country’s dedicated public servants. 

An official selection committee chooses the eight category winners, but the public chooses who gets the the People’s Choice award.

Our federal law enforcement officers are making a positive difference by putting wildlife traffickers behind bars.  Also, funds garnered by this operation helped to establish the Sera Rhino Sanctuary, a black rhino sanctuary in Kenya.  An exciting success of this program was the birth of the first baby black rhino earlier this year.

Operation Crash is an ongoing nationwide criminal investigation led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, Special Investigation Unit.  The investigation focuses on the illegal trade in rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory in response to the involvement of international poaching and smuggling syndicates.

How to Vote

Voting is open to active Facebook account holders at servicetoamericamedals.org/peoples-choice/. The finalists are on the bottom right side of the page. Check the box for your pick or picks and click the “Submit” at the very bottom of the list.  It will then pull up a Facebook sign-in window.  Voters may make their selection once each day until the polls close on September 9 at 11:59 p.m. Please note that every time you open the link to the voting page, the list of finalists displays in a different order.

Winners will be announced at the 2016 Sammies ceremony on September 20 in Washington, DC. 

Good luck, Operation Crash!

Travel Tip: Purchase Carefully to Avoid Supporting Wildlife Trafficking

  Items seized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of investigations into wildlife trafficking.
Items seized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of investigations into wildlife trafficking. Photo by Brent Lawrence/USFWS

The summer travel season is a prime time for travelers heading outside the United States to inadvertently purchase souvenir items that are illegal to bring back to America. “Just because something is for sale in a foreign country, doesn’t mean it is legal. Just because you see it for sale, it doesn’t mean it’s legal in that country. And if it is legal in that country, it doesn’t mean that it’s legal to bring back into the United States,” says Sheila O’Connor, Resident Agent in Charge for Oregon for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement.

Read More

A Beginner’s Guide to the National Wildlife Refuge System … and More

  Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. President Theodore Roosevelt established the National Wildlife Refuge System in 1903 at what is now Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Photo by George Gentry/USFWS volunteer

They say a picture is with worth a thousand words. The lands and waters conserved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within the National Wildlife Refuge System are among the most picturesque natural places on Earth. They are also home to some of the most compelling fish, wildlife and plants on the planet.

So, today the National Wildlife Refuge System is beginning a series of weekly online stories that will use photos to highlight the conservation work and visitor opportunities at national wildlife refuges, wetland management districts and marine national monuments. These photo-heavy stories are scheduled to be posted prominently on the Refuge System homepage each Wednesday and to remain there for a week.

The first story, “A Beginner’s Guide to the National Wildlife Refuge System,” is – as its title suggests – designed to give veteran conservationists and newcomers alike a brief sense of what the Refuge System has become since its founding by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903.

RELATED: Find a refuge near you

Please click through the photos, follow along in the captions, click on a hotlink or two along the way. If you do, you’ll see that, yes, the Refuge System is primarily for fish, wildlife and plants, but it’s also for people.

  whooping cranes Endangered whooping cranes at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Photo by Diane Nunley

In addition to providing habitat for more than 380 threatened or endangered species, providing resting, nesting, feeding and breeding spots for hundreds of millions of migratory birds, and conserving ecosystems from the Pacific to the Caribbean and Alaska to Maine, the Refuge System offers world-class recreation.

On hundreds of national wildlife refuges, you can fish, hunt, hike a trail, photograph wildlife and enjoy environmental education programs.

 Schoolchildren at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife RefugeSchoolchildren at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Justine Belson/USFWS

The network of lands and waters conserved within the National Wildlife Refuge System includes some of the most important, distinctive, breathtaking and pristine habitat in the world. Among those places are Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma and the deepest area on Earth, Mariana Trench National Wildlife Refuge in the Northern Mariana Islands.

  Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Photo by Cathy CurbyArctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Photo by Cathy Curby

Learn more about all of it by checking out “A Beginner’s Guide to the National Wildlife Refuge System,” by regularly checking in on our homepage, and by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Please consider sharing what you find with folks you know. Thanks.


Native American Youth Told to Heed Traditional Knowledge to Combat Climate Change

  The congress attendees work together The congress attendees worked together to define climate issues and develop ideas to become climate resilient. Photo by Alejandro Morales/USFWS

Alejandro Morales worked on communications the first week in July at the second annual Inter-Tribal Youth Climate Leadership Congress, a result of a partnership among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and other federal agencies. The congress was held at our National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Nearly 100 Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students between the ages of 15 to 18, participated in the weeklong congress to learn about climate change issues in indigenous communities, federal agency efforts on climate change, and most importantly, how the students can  help their communities become more resilient in the face of these challenges. 

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to uniting students for the common cause of conserving the American landscape and the wildlife that depend on it. These Native American youth are on the fore-front of climate issues and will be the first people to experience climate challenges,” says Georgia Jeppesen, National Conservation Training Center course leader. “We’ve already seen several tribes from Alaska being affected by climate change and we have seen our first climate refugees. Uniting these students and teaching them their traditional ways we hope they will continue to develop the skills and knowledge to become more climate resilient.”

 traditional corn dance  Hopi students demonstrate their culture to the congress by doing a traditional corn dance during the cultural gathering night. Photo by Keanu Jones/USFWS

Don't Ignore the Elders

During the congress, federal scientists taught the students about climate science, traditional ecological knowledge, and how a changing climate is impacting native environmental health and ways of life across the country. All the speakers expressed to the students that traditional ways of life are not fading away because of climate challenges, but rather are evolving to respond to new ecological and social conditions, as generations of Native people have had to adapt before. The other main messages to the youth were the importance of learning from their elders and the imperative that the youth apply these traditional teachings to current climate change challenges.

Jim Siegel, a National Conservation Training Center course leader, mentions another.  “When developing the congress, we wanted to emphasize the importance of public service and involvement, so we developed a service-learning session to give students an opportunity to perform four hours of community service by contributing to citizen science efforts, removing invasive plant species and rebuilding a hiking trail down to the Potomac River,” says Siegel. “We hope that students will take home a number of ideas and new skills from the youth congress and begin to engage their peers and community leaders in the climate change conversation.”

'Making a Difference'

Each student passionately discussed their cultural values and beliefs, and collectively discussed tangible ways they could make a difference in their home communities. The students then started to brainstorm solutions, leading their own discussions on climate change and how they will use their developing leadership skills and technical climate knowledge to address these issues by engaging tribal leaders, school officials and their peers in their communities. Finally, all students delivered group presentations with innovative ideas to promote ecological and cultural resilience in their communities.

Many of the students said they now felt more confident discussing climate issues with their tribal leaders, peers and communities, and hope to make a difference advancing climate change initiatives back home.

“I didn’t know much about climate change before the congress, but I do know that our sacred mountain used to have snow on it all year-round and now snow can only be found on that mountain for five months of the year,” says Cody Apachito, a Mescalero Apache and Navajo tribal member and congress attendee from the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico. “The decrease in the snow melt is directly effecting my community’s gardens, fish hatchery and how much fresh water we get in our homes. Seeing that change makes me feel sad, but after the congress I feel like I can have a discussion with my friends and educate my community in making a difference.”

  The Inter-Tribal Youth Climate Leadership Congress and the Sampson Brothers join for a group photo to celebrate their climate change research. Photo by Alejandro Morales/USFWSThe Inter-Tribal Youth Climate Leadership Congress and the Sampson Brothers join for a group photo to celebrate their climate change research. Photo by Alejandro Morales/USFWS

The congress celebrated their hard work with an inspirational hoop dance performance from the Sampson Brothers of the Muscogee Creek and Seneca Nations. A contemporary cultural gathering topped off the congress with students and mentors teaching one another about their culture and traditions - from regalia to dances to games.

This event was made possible by the following federal agencies working together to create a place for Native youth to gather and learn from one another:  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, U.S Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey.

Surrogate Leatherback Sea Turtle

  Turtle teamThe Turtle Survey Team at Sandy Point (Dana is second from left).

Open Spaces is featuring posts by Student Conservation Association(SCA) interns working to promote, protect and study wildlife on public lands all over the United States. Since 1957, SCA has been connecting young people from all backgrounds with life-changing, career-making conservation service opportunities. Learn how you can get involved at www.thesca.org. Today, Dana DeSousa checks in from Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  Dana DeSousa holding hatchlings
Dana DeSousa holding hatchlings. 

Ever wonder what it's like to work with dinosaurs? Well I can't tell you what it’s like to work with a Tyrannosaurus rex, but I can tell you about working with a reptile whose ancestors were around during the Cretaceous period.

Her body emerges from the surf indifferent to the waves crashing over her head and carapace. She moves slowly but methodically up the beach dragging her 700-pound-body a few feet with each stroke of her front flippers. All of a sudden she starts to swivel her body and rear flippers, throwing sand from side to side with her front limbs. Once this movement has created a body pit, she begins to dig. With her front flippers anchored in the beach, she alternates the use of her rear flippers to scoop sand to form an egg chamber. She is almost ready to lay her eggs. Unfortunately, this leatherback sea turtle has chosen to deposit her eggs in a known erosion zone, so tonight we will have to relocate them to a more stable stretch of beach. 

I crawl up right behind the astonishingly large creature and lie in the sand behind her to catch her eggs in a special double bag that will keep them in their natural state and enable me to remove the clutch in one swift movement. I lie motionless as she digs h

er chamber carefully. Finally, after she feels the space is the perfect depth and shape, I find the two- or three-second window in which I can put my bag under her cloaca and begin to catch the eggs. I see her entire body contract, and a wave of movement shudders across her, resulting in the release of four or five eggs. Each time she contracts, a few eggs fall into my bag as I keep a steady hold on the sides. After about 10 minutes, she starts to lay spacers, or yolkless eggs. I know they are spacers because fertilized leatherback eggs are the size of billiard balls; spacers come in all different sizes – marble, ping pong ball, sausage, etc.  Leatherback turtles are the only turtles that lay spacers. They are thought to aid in gas exchange within the nest. 

 The spacers are  my signal to prepare to move the bag because she will be done after a few more pushes. After the final egg is laid and her rear flippers start to make the slightest movement, I remove the bag in one fell swoop. She starts to cover her chamber as if the eggs are still there because she has no idea that her eggs have been removed. While I work to catch the eggs, other members of our team work up the turtle by taking measurements, checking for flipper and Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags and examining her for injuries. These research activities all take place in the short period of time that the turtle is laying her eggs, ensuring minimal disturbance.

Turtle teamTurtle survey team. Photo by Shannon Borowy 

Now it's time to become a surrogate leatherback and dig a new chamber in a suitable beach. I try to be as methodical and precise as the nesting female was a few minutes prior. When I have reached the maximum depth of 60 centimeters, I release the eggs from the bottom of the bag to imitate the laying process as accurately as possible. Next I tamp the sand to cover the eggs in the same way that our nesting females do. This will hopefully ensure a high hatching success. 

This is what happens sometimes on patrol at Sandy Point. A team of six Student Conservation Association interns, NOAA marine biologist Kelly Stewart and refuge biologist Claudia Lombard monitor nesting and hatching success for leatherbacks. Each night we patrol for nesting females every 45 minutes until the sun begins to rise. When we come across a turtle who is nesting in the area of beach that slowly disappears due to wave erosion by the end of summer — the "erosion zone" — it's time for team members to spring into action.  

hatchlngLeatherback hatchling. Photo by Shannon Borowy 

Fast forward 60 days, and it’s time to scan the beach for small black noses poking up through the sand. We patiently watch and wait as the tiny heads pop up and out. Next shoulders and front flippers appear. Soon enough the hatchlings push off their brothers and sisters and climb all the way out, starting their journey to the ocean. 

hatchlngLeatherback hatchlings. Photo by Shannon Borowy 

Witnessing the full process from eggs being laid to hatchlings emerging really puts into perspective the work my team and I are doing each night. I have learned an extensive amount about sea turtles during my SCA internship, but what has affected me most is the knowledge that my work has made a real difference for an endangered species. For every nest that is relocated, 80 or so eggs, instead of being washed out or eroded away, will have a chance to develop into hatchlings, grow into adults and eventually return to the beach where they were born. It’s a time- and labor-intensive effort, but it has really paid off. The year that sea turtle conservation began here, 1982, only 19 leatherbacks nested at Sandy Point. For the past five years, the refuge has recorded an average of 95 individual nesting females. 95! With this knowledge, the long nights, the biting bugs and the soaking rain don't seem as daunting, and every bead of sweat is a small reminder of the hard work paying off. Every day of this internship provides further encouragement to continue on a career path in conservation.  

Chords for Conservation

  Songscape: Seedskadee

In a few weeks, Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming will have some very special guests: North Carolina's NPR-acclaimed folk band, River Whyless!

During Songscape: Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, a unique musical foray into the sage-steppe ecosystem, the band will make music inspired by Seedskadee’s unparalleled landscape in southwestern Wyoming. 

The experience is made possible through a unique partnership with Sustain, an organization that works to elevate the music industry’s role in conservation. Sustain organizes Songscapes, which pair talented bands with public land groups to make music inspired by protected landscapes. Songscapes celebrate the natural world and bring new awareness to public lands through music.

Pronghorns at Sunset Seedskadee NWRA group of pronghorns at Sunset on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS

The name Seedskadee originated from the Shoshone Indian word "Sisk-a-dee-agie" meaning "river of the prairie hen." Today, the 27,230 acre refuge protects a rich mosaic of riparian, wetland and upland shrub habitats along 36 miles of the Green River in southwest Wyoming.  The riparian corridor of the Green River is an important migration route and nesting area for a wide variety of migratory waterfowl and other bird species.  Many insects, big game and small mammals can also be found on the refuge. 

River Whyless will spend July 30-August 4 at the refuge. The band will learn about and draw inspiration from the landscape in a number of ways, including float trips down the Green River, early morning hikes alongside wagon wheel ruts of the pioneers and campfire tales under the starriest skies in the West. From this bounty of inspiration, River Whyless will create a song rooted in their Seedskadee experience. This song will help grow audiences, support and connection to your national wildlife refuges and the sage-steppe landscape.

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