We Conserve! But We Don't Do It Alone

April 17, 2017

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Photo of Nick Etcheverry holding a WeConserve sign
Nick Etcheverry's partnership with the Service helps to establish and maintain important habitat for endangered species.
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Photo of Wyatt Milne holding a WeConserve sign
Avid hunter Wyatt Milne supports conservation by reporting banded waterfowl. Photo credit: Veronica Davison, USFWS.
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Photo of students holding a WeConserve sign
Caleb Greenwood Elementary School students use their schoolyard habitat to conserve water. Photo credit: Anna Symkowick-Rose
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Photo of Valerie Henteges holding a WeConserve sign
SFWO Wildlife Biologist Valerie Hentges supports conservation of habitats for the California tiger salamander and California red-legged frog. Photo credit: Veronica Davison, USFWS.
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Photo of students at California State University holding a WeConserve sign
Students at California State University, Sacramento show their support for science-based conservation.
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Photo of students viewing habitat for wildlife at their school
The native grassland area at Caleb Greenwood Elementary School provides habitat for wildlife and an opportunity to educate students, parents, and the community about the benefit of native plants. Photo credit: Karleen Vollherbst.
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Photo of John Hull holding a WeConserve sign
SFWO's Josh Hull supports conservation of national parks. Photo credit: Josh Hull
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Photo of Amy Poopatanapong holding a WeConserve sign
ICF Wildlife Biologist Amy Poopatanapong supports conservation of burrowing owls. Photo credit: Veronica Davison, USFWS.
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Photo of group of employees holding a WeConserve sign
L to R: Brian Cypher, Erin Tennant, and Jesus Maldonado join SFWO's Brian Arnold (back row) in Buena Vista Lake Shew conservation efforts. Photo credit: Lily Douglas, USFWS.
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Photo of employee holding a WeConserve sign
Westervelt Ecological Services is a key contributor in efforts to conserve the threatened valley elderberry longhorn beetle. Photo credit: McKenney Houck
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Photo of Kellie Berry holding a WeConserve sign
SFWO's Kellie Berry shows support for vernal pool conservation at Mather Field. Photo credit: Veronica Davison.
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Photo of students working in schools grassland habitat
Through the Schoolyard Habitat Program, Caleb Greenwood Elementary School established a native grassland habitat, native woodland habitat, and a butterfly garden that serve as an outdoor classroom for students. Photo credit: Karleen Vollherbst.
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Photo of Diana Jeffery holding a WeConserve sign
Grassland Ecologist Diana Jeffrey at Ring Mountain working on conservation of native plants. Photo credit: Valary Bloom, USFWS.
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Photo of PG&E employees holding WeConserve signs
PG&E employees show their support for conservation of listed species and natural resources. Photo credit: Veronica Davison, USFWS.
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Photo of employees holding a WeConserve sign
SFWO's Valary Bloom supports conservation of the endangered showy Indian clover. Photo credit: Diana Jeffery.
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Photo of person holding a WeConserve sign
SFWO partner Westervelt Ecological Services partner supports conservation of vernal pool species. Photo credit: Matt Gause.
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Photo of Henry Hahler and Holley Kline holding a WeConserve sign
Henry Hahler and Holley Kline support vernal pool conservation. Photo Credit: Jason Peters.
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Photo of person holding a WeConserve sign
SFWO works closely with Westervelt Ecological Services on projects that protect vernal pools and grassland areas. Photo credit: Tara Collins.
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Photo of staff holding a WeConserve sign
SFWO staff work with the Sonoma County Water Agency, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California Department of Water Resources, HT Harvey and Associates, Gold Ridge RCD, and Area West Environmental on California Tiger Salamander conservation.
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Photo of SFWO partner holding a WeConserve sign
SFWO partner Westervelt Ecological Services creates mitigation banks that provide habitat for the threatened giant garter snake. Photo credit: Sarah Correa.
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Photo of Lindsey Troutman holding a WeConserve sign
SFWO Wildlife Biologist Lindsey Troutman supports conservation of endangered species. Photo credit: Veronica Davison, USFWS.
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Photo of Serge Gushkoff holding a WeConserve sign
California Department of Fish & Wildlife's Serge Gushkoff supports conservation of the threatened California tiger salamander. Photo credit: Veronica Daviso, USFWS.
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Photo of SFWO partner holding a WeConserve sign
SFWO partners like Westervelt Ecological Services are critical to advancing conservation efforts throughout Northern California in support of the California tiger salamander. Photo Credit: Tara Collins.
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Photo of Colleen Moore holding a WeConserve sign
California State University, Sacramento graduate student Colleen Moore supports native salmonid conservation.

With a history that can be traced back to the late 1800s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is the nation's premier government agency responsible for wildlife and plant species conservation. Although the name and organizational structure changed over time, the core driver of the agency remained constant: conservation. The Service works closely with a variety of partners to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants—as well as their habitats—for the continuing benefit of the American people. Earth Day is an important reminder that no individual government agency, organization, or person can do it alone. Partnership is central to progress and partners from all sectors are making a difference.

photo of Nick Etcheverry

Nick Etcheverry's partnership with the Service helps to
establish and maintain important habitat for endangered
species.

Nick Etcheverry, a co-owner of family-owned Eureka Livestock, LLC, is a critical partner for Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge (Bitter Creek)—demonstrating effective mix-use of public lands. For the past three years, his organic natural/grass-fed SimAngus cattle have grazed designated portions of the refuge—creating much needed habitat for the endangered giant kangaroo rat. The partnership began during California's well-documented drought and has benefitted the refuge, the species, and Eureka Livestock, LLC.

According to Etcheverry, Bitter Creek provides a sustainable food source for the herd of approximately 100 cattle grazing in this San Joaquin valley oasis. "During the drought years, the refuge saved us. I would have had to sell all those cows. I didn't have anywhere to go and the alfalfa was so high—alfalfa's cheap right now, but four years ago it was insane," said Etcheverry. He is committed to conservation and knows this partnership is having an impact on endangered species. "My dad and I, we've been grazing on endangered and other species habitat for the last 40 years and we do care about it. It's not just all for us and the benefit of my cows . . . I want the elk, and the kit fox, and the kangaroo rat, I want everybody out there."

In the United States, wildlife conservation links hunters, anglers, and the industry they support with educated and trained natural resource management professionals. In fact, hunters contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to support wildlife management programs, the purchase of lands open to hunters, and hunter education and safety classes. The revenue generated through the sport of hunting supports conservation programs that benefit hunted and non-hunted wildlife species. Avid sportsman Wyatt Milne understands the complex relationship between hunting and conservation, "We always try to educate non-hunters in the sense that what we're doing is not bad, we're not just out there killing everything that flies around. There're limits, there's regulations. We do this for a reason—it's to conserve what we have," he explained.

Milne also educates hunters, he volunteers as a mentor to younger hunters at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, passing along the lessons his father began teaching him when he was five. Wildlife refuges provide affordable hunting opportunities that, according to Milne, he cannot access elsewhere. "It gives your everyday working man a chance to get out and hunt. He doesn't have to spend thousands of dollars to join a club or know somebody."

photo of Wyatt Milne

Avid hunter Wyatt Milne supports conservation by
reporting banded waterfowl. Photo credit: Veronica
Davison, USFWS.

The future of conservation depends on the engagement of the nation's youth. Through the Schoolyard Habitat Program, the Service works with schools across the country to establish wildlife habitats on school grounds. One shining example of this effort is the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office's (SFWO) partnership with Caleb Greenwood Elementary School in Sacramento, California. SFWO provided technical assistance on habitat design, development, and ongoing maintenance. According to Caleb Greenwood Teacher Anna Symkowick-Rose, "The biologists were right there next to the kids when they planted, so they were helping them get out the plants, showing them how to take care of the roots, how to keep the plants high—just right there physically with them. It was really cool. They were able to tell us how big the plants would get and whether or not they would do well in the location we chose, so it was good."

In 2014, the school received funding from the Service to establish the wildlife habitat, including native grassland and woodland habitat, along with a butterfly garden. The commitment from students, teachers, and parents has been key to the sustainability of Caleb Greenwood's project. Students were engaged in every phase of the project and continue to utilize the space as an outdoor classroom. "They just love it—they think it's beautiful, they love being in it. They always find things and show me. . . It's really helping them look at wildlife. It helps them get excited about learning. They just get to see so much more as a result of having this in our school that they wouldn't get to see," said Symkowick-Rose.

photo of Biologist Valerie Hentges

Caleb Greenwood Elementary School students use their
schoolyard habitat to conserve water. Photo credit: Anna
Symkowick-Rose

The Schoolyard Habitat Program allows teachers to enhance the existing curriculum and gives students the opportunity to witness the relationship between plants and wildlife firsthand. Students selected the plant species for the habitat based on the type of wildlife they wanted to attract. Pollinators and songbirds were a priority for the students, with a special emphasis on butterflies.

Symkowick-Rose leveraged the funding the Service provided with funding from the California Fertilizer Foundation, Sacramento Creeks Council, the Parent Teacher Student Organization, and Jamba Juice, to support the schoolyard habitat and a school garden. After three years, the 6,500 square feet schoolyard habitat at Caleb Greenwood is well established—plants have matured, and the target species have moved in. Affectionately referred to by students as "Miss Anna The Garden Lady," her plans for the schoolyard habitat include enhancing learning opportunities by educating students about mulching, drip irrigation, and native plants.

Join the conversation about conservation on Twitter and use #WeConserve to share your contributions.


by Veronica Davison / SFWO External Affairs