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The Power of Twelve

Fish and Aquatic Conservation and Refuges and Wildlife Programs Bookmark a Dozen Years of Collaborative Aquatic Research and Monitoring Efforts

Coordination is a five syllable word that’s often a lot harder to do than say.

But not for Pacific Region National Wildlife Refuges and Fish and Aquatic Conservation (FAC) Program field stations. Every spring for the past 12 years, Refuges and FAC field staff have convened to share and discuss research findings, management issues and needs, and collaborative opportunities emerging from conservation and monitoring of Northwest refuge waterways and the trust species that depend upon them.

Roughly 50 employees from the field and regional office in both programs, as well as Ecological Services, Water Resources, and Science Applications, now attend the annual meeting. This years’ presentations featured water quality assessment tools to monitor contaminant and nutrient levels at Ankeny and Basket Slough NWRs, developing a fish inventory for William L. Finley NWR’s McFadden’s Marsh, how geomorphic surveys at Little Pend Oreille NWR can guide restoration planning, to cross-program implementation the region’s invasive species prevention policy.

Collaborative research between Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program and Refuges and Wildlife biologists yields population data for native and non-native fish, such as the brook trout above, that are important for making informed management decisions impacting refuge waterways. Photo: Rebecca Christoperson/USFWS

Attendees also got a progress report on a collaborative monitoring pilot project to assess climate change impacts upon aquatic habitat and fish on five refuges across three states. The three-year study, generated from previous coordination meetings, is helping the region’s National Wildlife Refuge System generate biological and hydrologic datasets that will be critical for future, science-based management decisions.

“The meetings encourage personnel from the programs to develop and strengthen working relationships, which will continue to benefit conservation as new issues arise,” said Sam Lohr, a Fish Biologist at the Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office in Vancouver, WA, the site of the annual meeting.


Members of a YCC crew that in 2016 helped survey Kootenai NWR's Myrtle Creek. The survey was conducted as part of a collaborative pilot study that's developing methods and baseline data to conduct long-term aquatic monitoring studies across five Pacfiic Region refuges. Photo: Mike Faler/USFWS

Lohr, one of the coordination meeting’s original organizers, has worked closely with Bridget Flanders, regional Branch Chief for Refuge Biology to not only expand participation to the two program’s refuges, stations, and staff in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, but bring in aquatic research and monitoring staff expertise from other Service programs, and occasionally other agencies and universities.

“The continuity...has really allowed the programs to grow and develop together,” Flanders said. “I think one of the most satisfying aspects of my participation over the past seven years has been seeing conversations at the previous meetings evolve into collaborative projects or improved methodology. We’ve seen improved efficiency and project outcomes just as a result of giving people at different field stations the opportunity to exchange ideas and information.”


Last Updated: May 25, 2017
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