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Feature Stories

  1. A green and blue LiDAR image showing subtle differences in elevation caused by the presence of a historic factory
    Information icon An image captured by laser imagery depicts shell rings at Raleigh Island on the Lower Suwanee National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Ten centuries ago, the island was the site of a bead-making operation. Photo by Ken Sassaman, the University of Florida.

    A refuge gives up its secret

    November 12, 2019 | 4 minute read

    Today, it is the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, but long-ago it was a factory where natural resources became treasures. Native Americans transformed the shells of lightning whelks into products in demand far beyond the shores where they were made. Working in what is now western Florida, craftsmen turned those shells into beads. By the time Europeans arrived at those Gulf coast flatlands about 500 years ago, the bead-making operation had been operating for centuries.  Learn more...

  2. A beautiful salt marsh with palm and oak trees in the distance partially obscuring a white lighthouse
    Information icon A marsh at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Orville Allen, CC BY 2.0.

    Want to hunt a refuge? Fish a hatchery?

    November 7, 2019 | 8 minute read

    St. Marks, Florida — The slash pine forest is thick and overgrown, impenetrable due to walls of saw palmetto, gallberry and fetterbush. A hunter this season would more likely get lost in there than bag a whitetail. Next season, though, will be different. Dan Frisk, project leader for the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, stands by a deer stand used for the youth hunt each December on the refuge.  Learn more...

  3. A green toad with dark spots in a biologist’s gloved hand
    Information icon Biologists at the Saratoga National Fish Hatchery in Wyoming hopped at the chance to raise the endangered Wyoming toad. Photo by USFWS.

    They’re growing what?

    November 6, 2019 | 9 minute read

    In Virginia and South Carolina hatcheries, biologists keep a close eye on shad and striped bass while taking time to focus on something that will never wear scales: mussels. And down in Florida, hatchery scientists charged with making sure rivers and streams are stocked with catfish and bass are singing the praises of a tiny bird they’re raising outside their labs. The Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery is growing alligator snapping turtles to boost that species’ population.  Learn more...

  4. Two dozen or more conservationists gather for a discussion at high altitude on a cold, foggy morning.
    Information icon Service biologist, Sue Cameron, gives instructions on planting red spruce. Photo by Gary Peeples, USFWS.

    Mapping the sky islands

    October 9, 2019 | 7 minute read

    Asheville, North Carolina — On November 24, 1983, a Cessna 414A left Chicago en route to Sylva, North Carolina, a small town just south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The plane’s last radar contact showed an altitude of 6,100 feet. About a mile later, at an altitude of about 6,000 feet, it crashed into the ridge between Waterrock Knob and Mount Lynn Lowery, in North Carolina’s Plott Balsam Mountains — the last mountain range before descending to Sylva.  Learn more...

  5. A lake on St. Vincent NWR with emergent marsh and palm trees.
    Information icon A freshwater lake on St. Vincent NWR. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    An exotic hunt on a Florida island

    October 7, 2019 | 8 minute read

    Apalachicola, Florida — In 1907, a New York doctor, patent-medicine salesman and one-term congressman bought St. Vincent Island for $12,500 and set about turning the palmetto and pine-fringed preserve into a “wildlife emporium.” Dr. Raymond Pierce built trails, cottages, barns, dams and sluice gates to create duck ponds. He grew vegetables and raised cattle. And he also imported a menagerie of exotic Asian antlered beasts including sambar deer from India, a prized trophy for big-game hunters.  Learn more...

  6. A free-flowing river with sandy banks and large, green, mature trees.
    Information icon Site of the former Green River lock and dam No. 6 across from Mammoth Cave National Park. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    With dam removed, Green River goes with the flow

    September 24, 2019 | 10 minute read

    Brownsville, Kentucky — The blacktop, like so many others, ends at the Green River. A few fire rings and Bud Light cans litter the banks. Swallowtail butterflies flit among the oaks, poplars and sycamores. The river ambles unobstructed this warm summer day. There’s not much to see at the popular fishing spot across from Mammoth Cave National Park. It’s what you don’t see that matters. Two years ago a decrepit concrete lock and dam straddled the river posing a serious hazard to swimmers, kayakers and underwater creatures.  Learn more...

  7. A beach covered in sea turtle eggs and other debris washed ashore from Hurricane Dorian
    Information icon Debris and sea turtle eggs washed up by Hurricane Dorian at Archie Carr NWR. Photo by Erin Seney, UCF Marine Turtle Research Group.

    Dorian report: Sea-turtle nest losses could have been worse

    September 19, 2019 | 5 minute read

    Hurricane Dorian obliterated hundreds of sea-turtle nests at National Wildlife Refuges as it clawed north along the Atlantic coast earlier this month, officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) said. But it could have been much worse. The storm, wildlife refuge staff noted, had dissipated as it neared the fragile, sandy shores where turtles lay eggs. It obliterated some nests, but left others intact. Eroded sand dunes and a lost sea turtle egg at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.  Learn more...

  8. Radar image showing the eye of Hurricane Hugo impacting the South Carolina coast
    Information icon Hurricane Hugo satellite imagery, September 22nd, 1989. Radar map by NOAA/National Hurricane Center.

    Hurricane Hugo and the woodpeckers: the silver lining of a monster storm

    September 16, 2019 | 13 minute read

    As sad as it is to admit, September has almost become a month of dread for residents of the southeastern United States and the Caribbean. On guard 24⁄7, headlines from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center with proclamations like “NOAA increases chance for above-normal hurricane season” create that all too familiar angst as residents sponge up every advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center. Woven together with data from satellites and sensors, citizens are fed an endless array of spaghetti models that are updated frequently, making real-time tracking possible for our ever-connected society.  Learn more...

  9. A small bird in hand with white patches on its wing and a red patch behind its eye
    Information icon A male red-cockaded woodpecker showing off the red feathers behind its head called a cockade. Photo © Robert B. Clontz, The Nature Conservancy.

    Joining forces

    August 27, 2019 | 7 minute read

    Fort Stewart, Georgia — As military partnerships go, this has to be one of the oddest, and strongest. The fighting men and women of the 3rd Infantry Division train alongside… red-cockaded woodpeckers. Ft. Stewart just west of Savannah and north of Hinesville, GA. Map by Roy Hewitt, USFWS. Soldiers maneuver the eastern edge of the army base under a canopy of longleaf pine where the iconic woodpeckers make their home.  Learn more...

  10. Two biologists in wet suits and snorkle gear in a turbid stream looking for mussels
    Information icon Jay Mays and Brittany Barker-Jones discussing the mussel search on the French Broad River. Photo by Gary Peeples, USFWS.

    Mussel returns to French Broad River after 100-year absence

    August 20, 2019 | 5 minute read

    Asheville, North Carolina — As a trio of kids on inner tubes quietly floated down the French Broad River outside Rosman, North Carolina, a nearby snorkeler broke the river’s surface, disturbing the quiet with a quick clearing of water from his snorkel. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Jason Mays was searching the river bottom for 300 wavy-rayed lampmussels, freshwater mussels stocked by the Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) in early June.  Learn more...

  11. Thousands of pelicans dot an island landscape shot from above
    Information icon Aerial view of Queen Bess Island, which supports an important brown pelican rookery in Louisiana. Photo by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

    Streamlined environmental compliance process benefits brown pelican rookery

    August 20, 2019 | 4 minute read

    “Good Queen Bess” (a.k.a. Queen Elizabeth I) is credited with putting an end to a period of instability in mid-16th century England. Unfortunately, the tiny scrap of land in Louisiana that bears her name, Queen Bess Island, has been anything but stable. The island, located about two-and-a-half miles north of Grand Isle in Barataria Bay, has been sinking and eroding into the Gulf of Mexico. This is a matter of concern, as Queen Bess Island supports the third largest brown pelican rookery in Louisiana.  Learn more...

  12. Pink flowers with petals in a conical shape and a deep red stigma.
    Information icon Heather Alley near an experimental population she planted for her master thesis. Photo courtesy of Heather Alley.

    With help from many partners, the endangered smooth coneflower fights to come back

    August 16, 2019 | 5 minute read

    Droopy and slender pink petals give it a daisy-like appearance. Delicate, yet fierce, with a tall and spiked-domed center, it thrives in places that aren’t exactly dainty. Along power line rights-of-way, roadsides, dry slopes, and other disturbed places, the smooth coneflower fights to defend its turf. Left unchecked, trees and shrubs can opportunistically overpower the open prairie-like spaces that wildflowers call home. The smooth coneflower is an endangered wild plant in the aster family.  Learn more...

  13. Hundreds of small wildflowers grow on the back side of a row of solar panels.
    Information icon Native pollinator-friendly plants beneath the elevated end of the solar panels. Photo by Bryan Tompkins, USFWS.

    Service and partners see opportunities for declining pollinators on solar farms

    August 7, 2019 | 5 minute read

    Asheville, North Carolina — As Bryan Tompkins approaches a solar power farm in Rowan County, North Carolina, his eyes are not on the solar panels – an increasingly common sight in North Carolina. His attention rests on the plants growing around the solar panel array. Tompkins is a biologist in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Asheville Field Office, where he reviews federally-funded or authorized projects for wildlife impacts under a variety of federal laws, including the Endangered Species Act – the goal being to at least minimize negative wildlife impacts, and hopefully provide some benefits.  Learn more...

  14. A brown, furry bat attached to the roof of a humid cave
    Information icon A tri-colored bat Fern Cave National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Michael Senn, USFWS.

    To the bat cave!

    July 25, 2019 | 8 minute read

    Paint Rock, Alabama — Nothing really distinguishes Nat Mountain from its hilly neighbors amid the southern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s not particularly tall at 1,600 feet. It offers no sweeping summertime views, except snatches of distant mountains and the curvaceous Paint Rock River. It’s home to the Fern Cave National Wildlife Refuge, but, on the surface, there’s really nothing to do here. It’s what’s below ground that tantalizes.  Learn more...

  15. Thousands of pelicans dot an island landscape shot from above
    Information icon Aerial view of Queen Bess Island, which supports an important brown pelican rookery in Louisiana. Photo by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

    A head start on healing

    July 16, 2019 | 4 minute read

    “Good Queen Bess” (a.k.a. Queen Elizabeth I) is credited with putting an end to a period of instability in mid-16th century England. Unfortunately, the tiny scrap of land in Louisiana that bears her name, Queen Bess Island, has been anything but stable. The island, located about two and a half miles north of Grand Isle in Barataria Bay, has been sinking and eroding into the Gulf of Mexico. This is a matter of concern, as Queen Bess Island supports the third largest brown pelican rookery in Louisiana.  Learn more...

  16. A man in a blue Bee Downtown shirt rests a smoker on top of a nearby hive as he prepares to give a beekeeping lesson.
    Information icon Nicholas Weaver and the hives he tends at Georgia Power. A beekeeper, Weaver tends to bees at corporate locations across Atlanta. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    The buzz about pollinators

    July 10, 2019 | 5 minute read

    Let’s get the first question out of the way. Has anyone been stung? No. That begs another question: Has Georgia Power gone into the bee buzz — er, biz? Again, no. The utility is the site for a honey-making operation, but officials so far aren’t sure what they’ll do with the thick, amber stuff. Those little dots surrounding Nicholas Weaver are bees. Getting stung, he says, is an occupational hazard.  Learn more...

  17. A bright white lighthouse surrounded by oak and palm trees.
    Information icon The restored lighthouse at St. Mark's NWR. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    Beacon at the refuge

    June 27, 2019 | 6 minute read

    St. Marks, Florida — The lighthouse was abandoned, battered by hurricanes and infested with rats. Termites feasted on plywood floors. Rainwater seeped into the cupola and ran down interior walls. Wooden steps, inside and out, rotted away. The lighthouse at St. Marks NWR. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS. The U.S. Coast Guard relinquished control of the lighthouse and keeper’s quarters to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2013.  Learn more...

  18. Two outstretched hands hold a small turtle with yellow markings on its head and tail
    Information icon A search of a creek at the Rock Ranch in central Georgia turned up plants, tadpoles and at least one turtle. The ranch, 70 miles south of Atlanta, hosted more than 200 urban youth recently. They were guests of the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation, which sponsors an annual mentoring program. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    City comes to the country

    June 25, 2019 | 7 minute read

    Thomaston, Georgia — Rule 1 in the art of angling: You have to master the worm. “Ewww!” The teen holding the fishing rod recoiled at the sight of a wad of wigglers. “No. Uh-uh!” — that, from a buddy peering over his shoulder. And a third reaction, courtesy of a fellow who stood 6-foot-2 or more: “I ain’t touching that!” Thus did the guys from the city get introduced to a bit of country.  Learn more...

  19. Tall, yellow cylindrical plants growing on wet ground
    Information icon Trumpet pitcher plants. Photo © Atlanta Botanical Garden, used with permission.

    Seeps and springs and pitcher plants

    June 17, 2019 | 4 minute read

    Long ago, before Florida’s Panhandle was ditched, drained, paved and primed for development, there existed a rich tapestry of bogs, dunes, lakes and forests alongside the Gulf of Mexico. Bulldozers all but wiped out the rare coastal habitat. Pockets, though, remain. Pockets of pitcher plants and pine lilies; of seepage slopes and wet prairies; of wiregrass and sedges; and of butterflies and bees. Pine lily. Photo © Atlanta Botanical Garden, used with permission.  Learn more...

  20. Pelicans dot an island landscape shot from above with a single large pelican flying near the elevated camera.
    Information icon A brown pelican soars over others on Queen Bess Island, Louisiana. Photo by USFWS.

    Island restoration project and partnerships playing key role in future of the brown pelican

    June 14, 2019 | 3 minute read

    It may not be widely known that Louisiana, the Pelican State, had lost for almost a decade all of its namesake brown pelicans. In the early 1900’s Louisiana’s brown pelican population was estimated at 50,000 to 80,000. The widespread use of the insecticide DDT, however, took a huge toll on many bird species, including the brown pelican. By 1963, the bird was no longer found anywhere in the state. Today, the birds are back and their numbers around the state are staying steady.  Learn more...

  21. A pine forest with trees snapped in half by high winds and a bent speed limit sign
    Information icon Tyndall Air Force Base pine forests were scissored by Hurricane Michael. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    Opportunity from disaster

    June 7, 2019 | 7 minute read

    Panama City, Florida — Hurricane Michael savaged Tyndall Air Force Base with 160 mph winds that nearly destroyed the base and everything, including the trees, within its deadly path across the Panhandle. Damage to Tyndall alone topped $3 billion. Three-fourths of the pines on the 29,000-acre base between the Gulf of Mexico and East Bay were sheared in half. Tyndall lost $14 million in harvestable timber. Blackhawk helicopters fly over Tyndall Air Force Base.  Learn more...

  22. Four manatees and a school of fish assemble under crystal clear water.
    Information icon Manatees at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Photo by David Hinkel.

    Manatees hanging out in mitigation feature in Southwest Florida

    May 15, 2019 | 3 minute read

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists monitoring the progress of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) were excited to hear that up to 20 Florida manatees used the manatee mitigation feature south of Port of the Islands marina in Collier County, Florida, in January and February. Kim Dryden, biologist. Photo by USFWS. That manatee mitigation feature is a refugium built by the South Florida Water Management District a couple of years ago.  Learn more...

  23. A bright pink bird with large wings with black feathers flying across a blue sky
    Information icon Pinky The Flamingo turned up at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida after Hurricane Michael. Photo © Karen Willes, Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge.

    Pinky in paradise

    May 2, 2019 | 4 minute read

    St. Marks, Florida — Hurricane Michael careened through the Gulf of Mexico last fall sucking up all manner of flotsam and jetsam before scattering the unwelcome mess across the Panhandle. Yet there was one airborne interloper that was embraced heartily by the storm-tossed masses below. Pinky The Flamingo.  Learn more...

  24. A marsh at low tide exposes a mud flat with sparse pine trees in the distance.
    Information icon Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Nanciann Regalado, USFWS.

    Coastal Alabama refuge adds land

    April 26, 2019 | 3 minute read

    A jewel of an ecosystem just grew by more than 350 football fields, thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and several partners. The land in question: the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, a roughly 7,000-acre tract near Gulf Shores, Alabama. It’s called the Little Point Clear Unit — two parcels comprising 470 acres, enough land to accommodate 355 football games. It became a formal part of the refuge April 26.  Learn more...

  25. A blue sky partially obscured by tall green pine trees.
    Information icon Longleaf pine stand located in the Coastal Headwaters forest in Alabama. Photo by USDA.

    Coastal Headwaters project in Florida is a major step for longleaf pine restoration

    April 24, 2019 | 4 minute read

    Pace, Florida — Rarely has the establishment of a conservation easement generated such fanfare. But dozens of public, private and nonprofit officials on Wednesday extolled the wonders of the permanent setting-aside of 3,719 acres of forested land. Coastal Headwaters Longleaf Forest; Healthy Forest Reserve Program Conservation Easement. Map by Roberta Moore, The Conservation Fund. This, though, was no ordinary celebration. It’s likely the first of many such easements intended to restore majestic longleaf pine stands across a large swath of private property.  Learn more...

  26. A sign explains the hirstorical significance of the Florida torreya with a white house in the background.
    Information icon The Gregory House with propped-up torreya. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    Saving the Florida torreya

    April 22, 2019 | 8 minute read

    Bristol, Florida — The Florida torreya was one of the world’s most endangered trees even before Hurricane Michael savaged the remaining wild specimens along the Apalachicola River with 100-plus mph winds in October 2018. It was also one of the most controversial trees, Exhibit A in a roiling debate over how, and where, to keep alive species facing extinction. More than 650,000 torreyas once lined the ridgelines or hugged the ravines near the Apalachicola and Flint rivers.  Learn more...

  27. Eight fuzzy brown bats with large ears gathered in a small cluster on the roof of a cave.
    Information icon Small cluster of Virginia big-eared bats. Photo by Dave Riggs, CC BY-SA 2.0.

    Big-eared bat mystery solved in North Carolina

    March 21, 2019 | 6 minute read

    Asheville, North Carolina — A proposed highway widening project in 2010 led to the solution of a wildlife mystery, plus additional protection of North Carolina’s only endangered Virginia big-eared bat population. The Virginia big-eared bat was placed on the federal endangered species list in 1979. Found mainly in Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky, there is one population in North Carolina. In the early 1980s, scientists discovered two hibernation sites for that North Carolina population, a pair of caves at Grandfather Mountain.  Learn more...

  28. A bright green irrodescent fish in a small blue net.
    Information icon Barrens topminnows are small, colorful fish that live only in a few springs and creeks in central Tennessee. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the fish as endangered. Photo by Emily Granstaff, USFWS.

    A boost in the Barrens

    February 27, 2019 | 3 minute read

    Barrens topminnows are small, colorful fish about four inches long, and the males are particularly showy during spawning season. Barrens darters are even smaller, and they are believed to be one of the rarest fish in North America. Cumberland pigtoes are mussels with mahogany shells and peach interiors. The fish and mussels are struggling to survive in the only place they live: the creeks and watersheds in a little part of Tennessee called the Barrens, midway between Nashville and Chattanooga.  Learn more...

  29. A butterfly covered in white spots with orange and yellow wings perched on a purple flower.
    Information icon A monarch butterfly on a purple plant with bright colors in the background. Photo by Christine Lisiewski.

    Teeing up conservation

    January 29, 2019 | 4 minute read

    Most people view golf courses as swaths of perfectly cropped and contoured grass, closer to artifice than raw nature. As many golfers can attest, however, most of the golf course outside the boundaries of greens and fairways is wild and unruly, and can be a difficult place to locate an errant ball. “About 70 percent of most golf course acreage is managed for out-of-play areas,” said Dr. Kimberly Erusha, managing director of the U.  Learn more...

  30. A man wearing a camouflage hoodie posing for a photo on a gravel road
    Information icon Stephen Scott, longtime Hunters for the Hungry participant. Photo by Katherine Taylor, USFWS.

    Hunting for a cause

    December 12, 2018 | 3 minute read

    For many Americans hunting is a vehicle for connecting with nature and the great outdoors. Just look at the numbers: a five-year report found that 101.6 million Americans participated in hunting, fishing and wildlife activities in 2016.  Learn more...

  31. A pine forest with trees snapped in half by high winds and a bent speed limit sign
    Information icon Tyndall Air Force Base pine forests were scissored by Hurricane Michael. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    After Hurricane Michael

    November 29, 2018 | 6 minute read

    Camilla, Georgia — Hurricane Michael barreled across prime Southern timber territory, damaging five million acres of pines and hardwoods and destroying nearly $1.7 billion worth of marketable trees. Habitat for many of the region’s at-risk species — red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises, eastern indigo snakes — was sundered. Red-cockaded woodpecker in flight. Photo by Martjan Lammertink, U.S. Forest Service. Now, six weeks after Michael killed more than 45 people in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, forest owners salvage timber, clear stands and pray for a market rebound.  Learn more...

  32. An american flag flies in the wind from its new home atop a Cold War era flagpole
    Information icon A new flagpole at Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in the Florida Keys has a rich history. Photo by Morgan Barnes, USFWS.

    A Cold War flagpole, reclaimed

    November 14, 2018 | 4 minute read

    Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Florida – In October, 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union brought the world as close it has ever come to the brink of nuclear war. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the most serious Cold War standoff between the two superpowers. Before it ended peacefully, a lot of people thought, with reason, that the end of the world could be at hand. When it was over, President John F.  Learn more...

  33. A deep red, wooden baseball bat commemorating the opening of Fayetteville’s new baseball stadium
    Information icon A baseball bat commemorating the City of Fayetteville, North Carolina’s bew baseball stadium groundbreaking - August 21, 2017. Photo by the City of Fayetteville.

    Endangered woodpecker is baseball’s newest mascot

    November 13, 2018 | 3 minute read

    Minor League Baseball has a new mascot, a new team: the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. The team, based in Fayetteville, North Carolina, has adopted the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker to adorn team caps, shirts and other items. Note the bat; that bird’s been busy. Photo courtesy of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. Take a look at the all-new mascot for the all-new Fayetteville Woodpeckers Minor League Baseball team. Note the fierce gleam in the eye, topped by a scarlet crest.  Learn more...

  34. A scruffy looking white-tailed deer that appears to be ill and underweight.
    Information icon A white-tailed deer with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Photo by Wyoming Game and Fish Dept.

    Stopping a killer

    October 26, 2018 | 6 minute read

    Atlanta, Georgia — Two Louisiana men, who plead guilty to smuggling diseased white-tailed deer into Mississippi, were recently sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay $140,000 in fees and fines. The punishment sent an unmistakable message that law enforcement and conservation agencies take very seriously the threat chronic-wasting disease (CWD) poses to the South’s deer and deer-hunting industry. Their fears are well-founded. A sickly white-tail tested positive for CWD near Tupelo in early October.  Learn more...

  35. A white sign that reads "Monarch Butterfly Festival, October 27th, St. Marks NWR, 850-925-6121"
    Information icon The festival takes place Oct. 27 at the refuge, located on Apalachee Bay on the Florida Panhandle. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    It’s monarch time

    October 24, 2018 | 5 minute read

    St. Marks, Florida — And now for a small bit of good news in a part of the country where a hurricane has made nearly every tale bad: The Monarch Butterfly Festival will take place as planned. Walk, drive and — yes — fly to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge to celebrate that colorful flutterer, Danaus plexippus. The festival is Oct. 27 at a refuge where Hurricane Michael came calling earlier this month.  Learn more...

  36. A brown sign bent in half by high winds that reads St Vincent NWR
    Information icon The sand-clogged dock with St. Vincent NWR in the background. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    Survivors of the storm

    October 22, 2018 | 6 minute read

    Bradley Smith seeks evidence that the red wolves survived Hurricane Michael off St. Vincent NWR. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS. Apalachicola, Florida — Bradley Smith stood tall on the bow of the SeaArk 21-footer with a VHF antenna held high. It was quiet, too quiet. It had been six days since Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle and Smith was listening for signs of life on St.  Learn more...

  37. A street sign that reads “Shade St” on a street denuded of all vegetation
    Information icon A street whose name no longer applies now that it’s nearly treeless. Service crews worked Thursday to remove fallen oaks from the yards of people on Shade Street in Panama City. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    “The first people we’ve seen here since the hurricane”

    October 19, 2018 | 8 minute read

    Panama City, Florida — They didn’t have much time. Rose and Perry Lane fled just hours before Hurricane Michael bowled into Panama City. They took Mary Lane, 92, Perry’s mother. Simbo the cat sat in a carrier on her lap. The Lanes headed inland to an emergency shelter at a school where safety waited. Or so they thought. The fast-moving hurricane, trimming Panhandle pine forests like an immense lawn mower, got to the school not far behind the Lanes.  Learn more...

  38. A drum-shapped buoy washed ashore with plam trees and a lighthouse in the distance
    Information icon A buoy washed ashore by Hurricane Michael at St. Marks NWR.

    Service makes headway in Hurricane Michael repairs

    October 17, 2018 | 5 minute read

    St. Marks, Florida — The images of Hurricane Michael’s rampage across the Panhandle have been seared, by now, into the nation’s collective consciousness: the roofless homes; the mountains of debris; the long lines of anguished people; and the miles of chopped-in-half trees. The worst of the damage came courtesy of winds nearing 155 mph. Michael’s counter-clockwise punch, though, pushed water from the Gulf of Mexico deep inland, swamping small towns, barrier islands and wildlife refuges, particularly along Michael’s eastern edge.  Learn more...

  39. A fallen street sign blown over by high winds reads Mercedes Ave.
    Information icon Hurricane Michael bent the sign for Mercedes Ave. in half. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    The Battle for Mercedes Avenue

    October 14, 2018 | 6 minute read

    Panama City, Florida — The battle for Mercedes Avenue was joined. On one side stood an army of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sawyers, swampers and heavy-equipment operators. On the other, a seemingly impenetrable forest of hurricane-downed pines and oaks blocking the street and keeping locals, utilities and ambulances from getting through. The Service’s sawyers readying to attack a tree. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS. Hurricane Michael had ripped across the Panhandle destroying houses, businesses and this city’s once-lovely tree canopy with equally reckless abandon.  Learn more...

  40. A bowling alley with one wall and part of the roof blown off.
    Information icon A bowling alley on US 98 in the wake of Hurricane Michael. Photo by Dan Chapman.

    Service task forces start assisting in Hurricane Michael recovery

    October 13, 2018 | 5 minute read

    Panama City, Florida – The sawyers and engineers, swampers and commanders arrived in the dark Thursday unable to fully grasp what Hurricane Michael had wrought. But there was no mistaking the devastation when the two-dozen U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service workers woke Friday in this Panhandle town no longer recognizable. Virtually every tree for miles was down or damaged. Roofs disappeared from homes and businesses along U.S. 98 only to be found a block away.  Learn more...

  41. A photo of the shore from the water with a bright white lighthouse, a large wooden dock and numerous palm and desiduous trees.
    Information icon Egmont Key. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    The sea and the Key

    September 27, 2018 | 9 minute read

    Egmont Key, Florida — The history of this spit of an island is without parallel. Sadly, the Key itself could soon be history. Native Americans, for example, hunted the island at the mouth of Tampa Bay centuries ago. Spanish explorers mapped it in the 1500s. Billy Bowlegs and Polly Parker, Seminole Indian legends, were imprisoned here during the so-called Third Seminole War. Palms on the key’s western beach killed by the rising, salty gulf waters.  Learn more...

  42. A snowy egret in a wetland with huge port infrastructure in the background.
    Information icon A hammock at Savannah NWR surrounded by old rice plantations with Georgia Ports Authority cranes in the background. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    A rising threat

    September 25, 2018 | 4 minute read

    The seas are rising and federal lands along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico are under siege.  Learn more...

  43. A prescribed fire burns vegetation just outside of a housing development.
    Information icon Prime example of wildland urban interface on Sanibel Island, J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR. Photo by USFWS.

    Safe and sound burning

    September 10, 2018 | 9 minute read

    Hobe Sound, Florida — The well-to-do on Jupiter Island wanted the wildlife refuge burned and who was to say no? Not the federal biologists at the refuge across the Intracoastal Waterway. They were eager to accommodate their neighbors and restore the pine scrub habitat. But the stakes — and potential dangers — were high. A prescribed fire, by its nature, is carefully planned and executed to minimize mishaps. Yet, winds shift.  Learn more...

  44. A man wearing an orange Tennessee NWR shirt releases a brownish grey bird, which takes flight.
    Information icon A wood duck heads skyward after banding as Bill Ross watches. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    Banded together

    September 4, 2018 | 8 minute read

    New Johnsonville, Tennessee — They gathered in a large group, more than 100. They didn’t know it yet, but they were about to help science. That began when Clayton Ferrell into their midst and selected one Aix sponsa ­– a wood duck. He held her with his left hand. His right grasped a set of needle-nose pliers. Something flashed in the sun — a small piece of aluminum, slightly curved, with a number engraved on it.  Learn more...

  45. Water runs through a rocky stream at the edge of a gravel road.
    Information icon On the site of the obsolete old bridge, a new wet ford allows timber trucks to drive across, and fish to swim freely. Photo by Laura Fogo, USFWS.

    Go with the flow

    August 31, 2018 | 4 minute read

    Like all freshwater mussels, the brook floater and Savannah lilliput that live in Densons Creek are dependent on the kindness of strangers. The strangers in this case are fish like minnows and sunfish. The mussels produce tiny offspring, no bigger than a pin head, which attach to the fish’s gills. When the fish swims away with the young mussels attached, the mussels are carried to new locations where they drop off the fish and begin their life in the stream bottom.  Learn more...

  46. An airboat operator sits back and watches the marsh burn.
    Information icon Prescribed fire at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

    Fire as tool, and as friend

    August 24, 2018 | 8 minute read

    Fire – prescribed and carefully managed – can be a wildlands’ best friend. Wildlife officials tout its ecological benefits. Hunters, fishermen and birders laud its cattail-clearing, nutrient-adding attributes. Hydrologists praise unimpeded water flows. Photo by USFWS.  Learn more...

  47. A hillside with debris and trees snapped in half like twigs.
    Information icon A portion of Jose Roig’s coffee plantation immediately after Hurricane Maria struck. Photo by USFWS.

    Aid in the shade

    August 9, 2018 | 4 minute read

    In September 2017, Puerto Rico was already reeling from Hurricane Irma, which had doused it with torrential rains and caused widespread damage. Then, two weeks later, Hurricane Maria roared through, killing hundreds of residents, wiping out buildings, entire landscapes of vegetation, and practically the entire electrical grid. It was the worst natural disaster on record for the U.S. commonwealth island, which is still recovering from the Category 4 storm.  Learn more...

  48. A man wearing a yellow hard hat and firefighting gear
    Information icon Stephen McGuin. Photo by Nicole Vidal, USFWS.

    On the front lines

    July 27, 2018 | 7 minute read

    Austin Griffin and Stephen McGuin are training to become wildland firefighters, an odd career choice given their unusual, at-times troubled backgrounds. Yet they’re perfect fits for a still-new training program crafted by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to put a diverse and economically disadvantaged cadre of young men and women on the front firefighting lines.  Learn more...

  49. A shining example

    June 4, 2018 | 7 minute read

    Atlanta, Georgia — Sam Shine, for years, quietly bought up North Florida property and set about conserving it. A successful Midwestern manufacturer, Shine made a number of under-the-radar land deals that received little notice outside the Panhandle conservation community. Until now. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just received 6,200 acres of ecologically critical pine lands and headwaters adjoining the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Shine is donating the land to the Service — a gift — not merely selling of a chunk at a good price or establishing a conservation easement.  Learn more...

  50. Where the ducks are

    May 29, 2018 | 4 minute read

    Augusta, Arkansas - On a clear January evening at Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, the sun soothed the sky into a pink glow. The mass of ducks quacking sounded like laughter, as they dropped into the sunlit forest that lined both sides of the refuge. Without the protected wetlands along the river, there would be no ducks. The thought is hard to imagine, considering duck hunting is so ingrained in the culture that duck blinds are like an inheritance.  Learn more...

  51. A deep black snake coiled up on sandy soil with young longleaf pine seedlings in the background
    Information icon An Eastern indigo snake on sandy soil associated with the longleaf pine ecosystem. Photo © Houston Chandler, the Orianne Society (Used with permission).

    Snakes in a bag

    May 25, 2018 | 8 minute read

    Andalusia, Alabama — A gaggle of biologists, zookeepers, college students and government officials traipsed through the Deep South longleaf pine forest one recent, gorgeous spring morning carefully clutching white pillowcases. They were looking for holes. More specifically, gopher tortoise burrows into which they could deposit their precious cargo of Eastern indigo snakes, aka “Emperors of the Forest.” Southern Alabama including Conecuh National Forest. Map by Roy Hewitt, USFWS.  Learn more...

  52. A woman wearing a warm hat preparing to plant a tiny spruce tree seedling.
    Information icon Sue Cameron plants a red spruce at Whigg Meadow in Tennessee. Photo by Garry Peeples, USFWS.

    Women lead the effort on Appalachian mountain-top forests

    May 24, 2018 | 8 minute read

    The story of an ambitious effort to restore red spruce to the Southern Appalachians spearheaded by four women brought together by a commitment to the highest peaks east of the Mississippi River.  Learn more...

  53. A small fish covered in small, colorful polka dots of red and black
    Information icon The Bayou darter is only found in one small watershed in Mississippi, and is listed as threatened under the ESA. Photo by Matt Wagner, Mississippi Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.

    Partners for Fish and Wildlife helps Mississippi landowners, threatened fish

    May 16, 2018 | 3 minute read

    The Bayou Pierre River meanders for 95 miles through southwestern Mississippi, where it eventually flows into the mighty Mississippi River. More than 60 different kinds of fish make their home in its watershed, and one of them, the Bayou darter, has been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1975. It’s the only place in the world where the little 2-inch fish is found. The darter likes shallow, fast-flowing streams with gravel streambeds, and those are plentiful in the Bayou Pierre watershed, although not as plentiful as they used to be.  Learn more...

  54. A forrested stream with rocky shores.
    Raccoon Creek. Photo by Brett Albanese, Georgia DNR.

    The remaking of Raccoon Creek

    May 1, 2018 | 7 minute read

    Braswell, Georgia – A long and unusually cold Southern winter had the anglers itching to pick up rods and hit Raccoon Creek, one of the southernmost trout streams in the country. First, though, duty called. Nearly 50 retirees, teachers, builders, students and wildlife officials shouldered axes, clippers, shovels and chainsaws and gathered at aptly named Trout Stocking Road for a morning spent scouring the creek’s banks. The local Trout Unlimited members cleared trails, trimmed branches and picked up trash, all the while taking mental notes of pools, riffles and unimpeded casting spots.  Learn more...

  55. Three fluffy grey birds appear sleeping in a nest.
    Information icon The eaglet and its siblings live in a tree not far from Sevierville, Tennessee. Photo by American Eagle Foundation.

    A young life saved

    April 30, 2018 | 5 minute read

    Was that fishing line in the nest? A worried eagle watcher clicked on the website’s email link and started writing. Then, a second time: click! The email went winging. It landed in Al Cecere’s inbox. He read it and turned to his computer. Cecere called up the site where two cameras offered unblinking looks at three eaglets born in the top of a Tennessee oak tree. Yes, monofilament. And that meant the 3-week-old bald eagles or their parents were in danger of swallowing the line – or, worse, ingesting a lure or hook.  Learn more...

  56. A turtle with a dark shell and orang spots surrounded by fallen leaves
    Information icon The spotted turtle's shell makes it a prize in the pet trade. It is illegal to trap the reptile, whose range extends from Maine to Florida. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    Here, spot!

    April 20, 2018 | 8 minute read

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers spotted turtles at risk of being listed under the Endangered Species Act; they work with the Orianne Society, as well as other organizations, to learn more about the turtle.  Learn more...

  57. Four released birds spread their wings and take flight towards the blue sky.
    Information icon Migratory birds take to the skies after being uncaged at Everglades National Park. The birds had been seized as part of Operation Ornery Birds. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    Taking flight to freedom

    April 17, 2018 | 6 minute read

    About 130 birds were released April 14 into Florida’s River of Grass by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials and partners at Everglades National Park headquarters near Homestead, Florida. The birds had been bought by undercover agents from illegal trappers and traffickers, and seized in a series of arrests in the days leading up to the release.  Learn more...

  58. A young hunter crouches while holding a rife in the woods.
    Information icon Codey Elrod, hog control technician with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    Hunting the wild hog

    April 9, 2018 | 10 minute read

    Codey Elrod has a job most Southern hunters would kill for. Literally. My job,” Elrod said, “is to kill hogs.” And he gets paid for it.  Learn more...

  59. Veterans carry their hog through a swamp.
    Information icon Two wounded warriors and a volunteer, accompanied by a cameraman, carry a feral pig through the swamp at Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by SOWW.

    Hog heaven

    March 28, 2018 | 3 minute read

    Feral pigs are widely considered a nuisance species. The wild hogs cause an estimated $1.5 billion in property damage every year all over the United States on both public and private lands, according to the Mississippi State University Center for Resolving Human-Wildlife Conflicts. They are an invasive species that can disrupt entire food chains. “They’re really bad for the ecosystem,” said Craig Sasser, refuge manager at Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina.  Learn more...

  60. Buildings with boarded up doors and windows designed to mimic the Middle East.
    Information icon Combat town at Camp Lejeune with a pine tree that is home to a red-cockaded woodpecker cluster. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    Marines and woodpeckers share the high ground

    March 22, 2018 | 8 minute read

    Jacksonville, North Carolina — Above the distant din of 50-caliber machine gun fire and Cobra attack helicopters, John Hammond hears the unmistakable sound of a red-cockaded woodpecker. He is approaching Combat Town, where U.S. Marines routinely assault a mock Iraqi village at Camp Lejeune. A sign for Combat Town at Camp Lejeune. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS. It is an incongruous spot for an endangered bird to make its home – the middle of a war zone where artillery boom and tanks prowl.  Learn more...

  61. A half dozen large silver fish jumping out of the water to a height of six feet.
    Information icon School of jumping silver carp. Photo by Ryan Hagerty, USFWS.

    A war in the water

    March 19, 2018 | 8 minute read

    Eastport, Mississippi — This stretch of the Tennessee River is considered the most aquatically biodiverse in the nation, teeming with sportfish and at-risk snails and mussels. Locals boast that Pickwick Lake, where Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee come together, is “the smallmouth bass capital of the world.” Catfish and buffalo fill commercial angler’s nets. Marinas lining the reservoir’s roads attest to Pickwick’s huge economic impact. Yet the Tennessee River, and a way of life, is under siege.  Learn more...

  62. Aerial photo of the education center with colorful fields of flowers and a red visitors center.
    Information icon The Fred Berry Conservation Education Center in Arkansas sits on 21 acres donated by a retired schoolteacher. The center is restoring some of the land to native grassland/savanna habitat with funding provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Photo by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

    One project, many outcomes

    February 28, 2018 | 3 minute read

    One of the great things about habitat improvement projects is that a seemingly simple project can lead to many conservation outcomes. That has been the case with the native grassland restoration project on the Fred Berry Conservation Education Center, located on Crooked Creek in Marion County, Arkansas. The 421-acre property, which is managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), lies within a long 2.75-mile bend of Crooked Creek, a premier smallmouth bass stream, in the Arkansas Ozarks.  Learn more...

  63. A small woodpecker perched on a pine tree.
    Information icon In 2018, there were 38 active clusters of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers on this property in Alabama, thriving there under a Safe Harbor Agreement. Composite photo by Mark Bailey.

    Steward of the land

    February 14, 2018 | 5 minute read

    It started with quail, and then the woodpeckers upped the stakes. Cam Lanier owned one large quail-hunting plantation not far from his home in Lanett, Alabama, named Sehoy, and part of another next door, named Enon. But a timber company owned the other section of Enon Plantation. Cam Lanier bought Enon and Sehoy Plantations for quail hunting, but has added conservation of red-cockaded woodpeckers as a purpose. Photo courtesy of Cam Lanier.  Learn more...

  64. Three men posing for a photo in camouflage after a day of waterfowl hunting.
    Information icon Lane, Mark and John Bowie at Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama. Lane is a sixth-grader who has gone hunting with his dad and grandpa since he was 7 years old. Photo by Phil Kloer, USFWS.

    Making memories in a duck blind

    February 12, 2018 | 7 minute read

    Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama – “Some of the best memories are made even if you don’t pull the trigger” is a saying that circulates among some hunters. At 4:30 a.m., 12-year-old Lane Bowie is scrunched in the backseat of his grandpa’s truck playing a video game on his phone, one that involves frantic thumb movements and never-ending explosions on the little screen. At about 4:30 a.  Learn more...

  65. A man standing in front of a large pine tree trunk
    Information icon Tarver, who grew up in Alabama, is a longleaf fan. His property, 200 miles south of Atlanta, is named Longleaf Plantation. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    Safe harbor for woodpeckers

    January 29, 2018 | 8 minute read

    Newton, Georgia – They’d probably spent 20 minutes touring the forest when the agent and potential buyer stopped. The client took it all in – the southwest Georgia sky, a blue that got only deeper as it reached to heaven; and, closer to earth, the longleaf pines, their brilliant green needles prickling that lovely sky. That was enough for Charley Tarver. He turned to the agent. Charley Tarver bought a plantation in southwest Georgia 18 years ago and has turned it into a habitat for the red cockaded woodpecker, or RCW.  Learn more...

  66. Three Native American men stand in front of a sign.
    Information icon Coushatta Tribe members (from left) Bertney Langley, Ernest Sickey and Gardner Rose show a sign that honors the habitat restoration partnership between the tribe and the Service. Photo courtesy of the Coushatta Tribe.

    Woven from the Landscape

    January 23, 2018 | 4 minute read

    Before the United States was settled by Europeans, longleaf pine forests covered about 90 million acres of the Southeast. Most of these forests were logged for turpentine and lumber, and by 1975 they had been reduced to about 5 million acres. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is working with countless private landowners, state and federal agencies and conservation groups, to restore the glory of the longleaf. The motivation for many of these conservationists is to help the many at-risk and endangered birds and wildlife that thrive in longleaf forests from the red-cockaded woodpecker to the gopher tortoise.  Learn more...

  67. Two people work together to lift a large sea turtle next to a wheelbarrow.
    Information icon Jeff Schlafke and Anna Clark from Panama City but working in Cape San Blas, Gulf County, Florida where the stunned turtle event occurred. Photo by USFWS.

    Service helps sea turtles hit by Florida freeze

    January 8, 2018 | 2 minute read

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helped rescue hundreds of near-frozen sea turtles during Florida’s recent cold snap. Roughly 900 threatened or endangered turtles, mostly green turtles, but including Kemp’s Ridleys and loggerheads, were pulled from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean as water temperatures dropped below 50 degrees. Most were taken to the Gulf World Marine Institute in Panama City Beach where they were warmed up and fed, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  Learn more...

  68. Water cascades over the edge of a dam strewn with logs and debris
    Information icon The Milburnie Dam, just east of Raleigh, has been demolished. The Neuse River now flows, unimpeded, about 150 miles to the Pamlico Sound. It clears the way for migratory fish to spawn upstream. Photo by Mike Wicker, USFWS.

    To the sea

    December 15, 2017 | 3 minute read

    Who knows how long the great river ran unimpeded from the pine forests and hardwoods to the sea? Scientists can only estimate. But they can tell you when that great river resumed its restless push to the Atlantic Ocean: Nov. 22, 2017. On that day, the Milburnie Dam crumbled. It was the last structure impeding the Neuse River’s flow across eastern North Carolina to the mouth of the Pamlico Sound, 150 miles to the east.  Learn more...

  69. A tiny white and brown mouse held by a biologist.
    Perdido Key beach mouse. Photo by USFWS.

    The mouse that roared

    December 13, 2017 | 7 minute read

    Pensacola, Florida – Pity the big-eared, bug-eyed Perdido Key Beach mouse. Buffeted by hurricanes, threatened by development, and stalked by cats, the thumb-sized mouse had all but disappeared from the sliver of beach outside this bustling Gulf Coast town. A decade ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service feared extinction. Paw prints from a Perdido Key beach mouse. Photo by USFWS. Today? “The mouse is doing pretty well right now,” said Kristi Yanchis, a Service biologist and beach mouse expert.  Learn more...

  70. A woodpecker perched on a tree with a bug in its mouth
    A red-cockaded woodpecker has dinner outside its nesting cavity. Photo by USFWS.

    The woodpecker’s journey

    November 20, 2017 | 9 minute read

    It was getting dark. A light rain fell. Distant thunder rolled across the steamy, late-summer sky. The hunters were apprehensive. Their prey: endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers.  Learn more...

  71. A building built on steel footings ready for hurricane force winds.
    Information icon The rebuilt Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge visitor's center built to withstand future storms.

    Service facilities built to withstand nature’s worst

    November 9, 2017 | 5 minute read

    Hurricanes are never welcome, but they can prompt changes in buildings to make them better, stronger, and more capable of handling high water and even higher winds.  Learn more...

  72. Thousands of bats flying together at dusk.
    Information icon Bats flying. Photo by Ann Froschauer, USFWS.

    Winged assistants

    November 9, 2017 | 5 minute read

    Nights, Jessica Smith likes to sit in a folding chair in her backyard and watch the evening show. It’s been playing with hardly a let-up since she installed a bat house on her barn two years ago. A different barn with maternity colony of little brown bats. Photo by Ann Froschauer, USFWS. Day shuts down, night opens up. Bats, hundreds of them, hurtle into the darkening sky to do what bats do best: eat insects.  Learn more...

  73. Two USFWS employees chatting in front of a marsh.
    Information icon Nancy Fernandez and Monica Harris share a moment at the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    Connecting urban and rural

    November 8, 2017 | 7 minute read

    Nancy Fernandez’s job is to lure more Americans into the great outdoors. Sounds simple enough. But here’s what she’s up against:  Learn more...

  74. Bright green grass emerges from a huge marsh.
    Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina is a kayaker’s paradise. Photo by Eric Horan, USFWS.

    Refuges reach out to urban visitors

    November 8, 2017 | 7 minute read

    Hilton Head Island, South Carolina — The hiker was in bad shape. Overweight and exhausted, she had crumpled into a sitting position along the Ibis Pond Trail at the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. Her face turned red, almost purple. Sweat poured in torrents. Her breathing was labored. Heat stroke seemed imminent under the searing sun with temperatures nearing 100 degrees. Monica Harris and Nancy Fernandez — mercifully — happened by in their U.  Learn more...

  75. A tiny loggerhead hatchling hustles towards the ocean.
    Loggerhead hatchling meets ocean. Photo by Becky Skiba, USFWS.

    Moonlighting in Alabama

    November 6, 2017 | 5 minute read

    Lisa was keeping a watchful eye on a sea turtle nest, which laid beneath the sand. A Share the Beach volunteer for more than 16 years, Graham knew the routine: a female sea turtle nested in that spot two months ago, which meant the eggs could hatch at any time.  Learn more...

  76. Fallen trees crushed many of the Puerto Rican parrot breeding cages.
    Shredded trees at El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    Partners in chaos

    October 25, 2017 | 6 minute read

    San Juan, Puerto Rico – The Jeep was pretty new, but battered already. It was dusty, and someone had stolen the spare wheel from the rear. Flying debris knocked a hole in the top, too. But it rolled, and rolled well. It also had a spot on the dash for the “Captain’s Log,” the name the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Jon Wallace gave to a dog-eared notebook. As the Service’s incident commander during three weeks of relief and rescue work in Puerto Rico recently, he used it to keep a tally on what had been done, what still needed attention.  Learn more...

  77. Flags blow in the breeze at the peak of a small mountain.
    The wind catches flags at a resort outside San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    A plea, and an answer

    October 19, 2017 | 5 minute read

    Hurricane Maria had hardly passed over the small island of Vieques, which is about 10 miles east of Puerto Rico. The land, normally in the full green of early fall, was brown, trees stripped of leaves. The town of Vieques was dark, the houses in the hills just as dark.  Learn more...

  78. Three green parrots standing on a perch in a cage.
    Jafet Velez, a Service biologist, checks in on Puerto Rican parrots in their aviary home. Despite damage from Hurricane Maria, “We are confident we will have an awesome 2018 breeding season,” he says. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    Soaring past danger

    October 17, 2017 | 6 minute read

    El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico – They’re old, parenthood behind them, but that hardly means the two senior citizens serve no purpose. They like to talk. Others, sometimes, show up to listen. People here call them Egida, literally, a “house for the elderly.” The Spanish-to-English translation describing their function is not precise, but it’s close enough. The Puerto Rican parrots sit in a cage and call to their wild peers.  Learn more...

  79. A team of USFWS employees gather in a circle for directions from Incident Commander Sami Gray.
    Information icon Incident commander Sami Gray holds a morning briefing. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    A tough woman gets the job done

    October 16, 2017 | 10 minute read

    Big Pine Key, Florida – It was hot already at 8 a.m. with temperatures expected to soar under a cloudless, tropical sky. The men and few women gathered at the Nut Farm, a former coconut tree plantation tucked amid downed trees and storm-wracked buildings, were receiving their daily marching orders. It had been a week since Irma and her 180 mph winds came ashore a couple of Keys over, and the U.  Learn more...

  80. Deep tire tracks scar a dirt road that cuts through a forest.
    An unpaved road. Photo by Chris Gorski, CC BY-ND 2.0.

    The dirt road connection

    August 29, 2017 | 3 minute read

    Judge Stacey Avey has been serving on the bench for 17 years in Arkansas’ Stone County, a rural county in the Ozarks a little south of the Arkansas-Missouri state line. There are 13,000 people there, and a lot of unpaved dirt and gravel roads. Thanks to a new multi-partner project called the Arkansas Unpaved Roads Program, some of those roads are now in much better shape, which benefits both the residents and the wildlife, including some endangered and at-risk species, that live there.  Learn more...

  81. Bright red flowers emerge from a bog with a forest in the background.
    Mountain sweet pitcher plant patch in Butt CPA. Photo by Gary Peeples, USFWS.

    A unique mountain refuge protects endangered wetlands and the wildlife within

    August 24, 2017 | 8 minute read

    East Flat Rock, North Carolina – It’s not much to look at really. Nothing about this all-too-familiar stretch of Southern blacktop indicates that a rare, beautiful and endangered flower thrives just beyond the railroad tracks. There’s a convenience store, a small engine repair shop, a few modest homes. General Electric makes lights at a factory up the road. Bat Fork Creek meanders nearby. Below the tracks, though, in an Appalachian mountain bog, bunched arrowheads rise from soggy ground.  Learn more...

  82. The beach at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge goes dark mid afternoon during the solar eclipse.
    Information icon Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuges goes dark during the total solar eclipse. Photo by Kristen Peters, USFWS.

    Dark delight

    August 23, 2017 | 5 minute read

    Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, South Carolina – The solar eclipse of 2017 seemed to approach slowly. In truth, it came hurtling toward the eastern edge of America at more than 1,000 mph, a 70-mile-wide swath of temporary nightfall that stopped traffic and quickened hearts.  Learn more...

  83. A man and a woman stand in front of the welcome sign at a South Carolina refuge.
    Information icon Cindy Dohner, regional director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ Region 4, and Greg Sheehan. He recently became the principal deputy director at the Service. Photo by Kristen Peters

    Director: Refuge ‘a natural treasure’

    August 23, 2017 | 3 minute read

    Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, South Carolina – Ask Greg Sheehan what he thinks about the nation’s wildlife refuges and be prepared to wait for his response. For Sheehan, principal deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), something as important as the nation’s 500-plus refuges deserves a measured answer. They are that important. As he stood under the branches of a dead tree that had succumbed to the ocean at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Sheehan thought about America’s wild lands – the mountains, the prairies, the beaches that surrender to the tireless tides.  Learn more...

  84. A military officer in uniform releases a gopher tortoise next to a burrow.
    Col. Matthew Higer, 96th Test Wing vice commander, bends down to release a gopher tortoise into its new home deep within the Eglin Air Force Base. Photo by Samuel King Jr., U.S. Air Force.

    Boosting the gopher tortoise

    August 22, 2017 | 8 minute read

    Atlanta, Georgia – Typically, animals like the Florida panther lose their Southern habitat, dwindle perilously close to extinction and end up on the endangered species list. Federal, state and non-profit groups hustle to raise money and conserve land to bolster the populations with the chance, one day, of delisting it. The gopher tortoise, though, just might buck the trend. An at-risk species in Georgia, Florida and parts of Alabama and South Carolina, the tank-like tortoise is the recipient of an unprecedented, high-dollar collaboration between government agencies, NGOs and the private sector to keep gopherus polyphemus from ever gracing the threatened or endangered species list.  Learn more...

  85. A many wearing a wide-brimmed hat walking through a forest next to a young longleaf pine seedling.
    Information icon Reese Thompson is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others to conserve a natural longleaf pine stand on his south Georgia land. Photo by Bill O’Brian, USFWS.

    Longleaf pine for Georgians

    August 22, 2017 | 9 minute read

    Longleaf pine trees once blanketed the landscape from southern Virginia to east Texas. They were majestic hallmarks of the Southeast.  Learn more...

  86. A bat with a fuzzy head and large round eyes clings to the handler’s gloved hand
    Information icon Robin is an Egyptian fruit bat. Photo by Nicole Vidal, USFWS.

    They come out at night

    August 10, 2017 | 4 minute read

    The 2017 blitz, like those that preceded it, attempted to spread a little bat understanding – and, perhaps, some bat love. Bat experts invited the public to spend a few moments regarding a creature that’s suffered from a PR problem. Most folks just don’t understand bats, or what they do.  Learn more...

  87. A gentleman with a grey mustache standing next to a mature longleaf pine tree.
    Information icon Longleaf pines, says Salem Saloom, are "part of our heritage." Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    Growing trees, saving species

    August 9, 2017 | 8 minute read

    If one of the Southeast’s signature species is the gopher tortoise, so, too, is the towering pine that shades its burrow. The longleaf pine is one of the Southeastern United States’ great trees. When European settlers came to North America, they discovered Pinus palustris. It stretched across 90 million acres, from east Texas to Virginia, and was just what a young nation needed to grow. The wood from the conifer built homes, sailing masts and even roads.  Learn more...

  88. The sun sets over a lush green marsh cut in half by a calm brackish channel.
    Information icon Salt marsh along the Altamaha River. Photo by Nicole Vidal, USFWS.

    Many partners work together to protect “the Amazon of the South” for generations to come

    July 12, 2017 | 13 minute read

    It meanders 137 miles through the wild heart of Georgia, a blackwater beauty that nourishes longleaf pine forests, cypress swamps, saltwater estuaries and the barrier islands that protect the Atlantic coast and migratory birds alike.  Learn more...

  89. Two children with a camera peer out of the moon roof of a red truck.
    Information icon When a bear is spotted in a field, the caravan stops and Jack and Gretchen Boggs are among those taking pictures of the wild animal. Photo by Phil Kloer, USFWS.

    In search of the Bear Necessities

    July 5, 2017 | 4 minute read

    Dare County, North Carolina - The caravan of cars crunches slowly, single-file, down a narrow gravel road that leads deeper into Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. Herons alongside the road stare at the passing cars, and the passengers stare back at the herons. Overhead a gliding hawk catches air drafts. Herons and hawks are all well and good. But we are here for bears. Black bears. “We’re not a zoo,” Cindy Heffley, a visitor services specialist for the U.  Learn more...

  90. Thousands of birds taking flight from a huge lake in winter.
    Tundra swans and snow geese gather at Lake Mattamuskeet. Photo by Michelle Moorman, USFWS.

    Restoring Lake Mattamuskeet

    June 29, 2017 | 7 minute read

    Swan Quarter, North Carolina – Don Nixon grew up hunting, fishing and crabbing in and around Lake Mattamuskeet. It is land his grandfather once owned, and land he intends to pass on, figuratively, to his 12-year-old son Jacob, who loves to fish and hunt. “It’s important what we hand down,” Nixon said recently. “I want to hand down a good lake to my son.” Don Nixon and his 12-year-old son Jacob live a quarter-mile from Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge and enjoy hunting and fishing together.  Learn more...

  91. A forrested stream with rocky shores.
    Information icon Raccoon Creek. Photo by Brett Albanese, Georgia DNR.

    A wildlife gem, in the shadow of a booming Atlanta

    June 7, 2017 | 8 minute read

    Braswell, Georgia — It was 1946, a cold night in the Blue Ridge mountains, and the six frustrated deer hunters hunkered down in a glade as the wind howled. Two days spent scrambling over the hills had flushed but one doe. The annual hunt was no longer worth the long drive from Paulding County outside Atlanta. “What I’m figuring,” said E.F. Corley, a farmer, sawmiller, truck driver and ordained Baptist minister, “is stocking deer in the hills behind home.  Learn more...

  92. A bucket full of yellow/brown mussels.
    Information icon Juvenile fatmucket mussels approximately 6cm in length. Photo by Chris Barnhart, Missouri State University.

    There was a mussel called fatmucket…

    June 5, 2017 | 3 minute read

    A shelled creature called Arkansas fatmucket – yes, you read that correctly – is going to be released into a couple of Arkansas rivers this week. The goal: baby Arkansas fatmuckets. That bivalve’s full name: Arkansas fatmucket, a species of mussel found only in the state from which it derives part of its name. Since 1990, it has been listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Scientists with the U.  Learn more...

  93. Wiry pine trees sparsley dot a sandy landscape.
    Information icon A field of young longleaf pine at the Coastal Headwaters Forest. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS.

    A harmonious future for profits, pine and at-risk species along the Florida-Alabama line

    May 9, 2017 | 7 minute read

    Pace, Florida — Longleaf pine forests once covered 90 million acres from Virginia to Texas, a bio-diverse swath of timber prized by shipbuilders and gopher tortoises alike. Sprawling cities, large farms and commercial pine plantations, though, replaced much of the longleaf habitat. Today, less than five million acres remain. Conservationists’ goal of eight million acres by 2025 seemed laughable. Until Resource Management Service and Jimmy Bullock came along. Map of the Coastal Headwaters Forest by the Conservation Fund and RMS.  Learn more...

  94. A firefighter in protective gear marches through the brush of a pine forest.
    Firefighter in the brush at Okefenokee NWR. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    Fencing fire

    May 2, 2017 | 5 minute read

    The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is aflame. As of Monday, May 1, fire had burned more than 100,000 acres. Firefighters from across the country have come to the refuge, operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They’ll likely be at the refuge, close to the Georgia-Florida line, for months.  Learn more...

  95. Entrance sign notifies visitors the refuge is closed due to a fire.
    Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is closed as crews battle the West Mims fire. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    Keeping upbeat

    May 2, 2017 | 2 minute read

    Folkston, Georgia – If he needs a reminder of how to run a wildlife refuge – especially one that’s on fire – all Michael Lusk needs to do is look at the skull in his office. That’s an alligator skull, and it came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. At one time, it was attached to a beast about 9 feet long. Propped in its gaping mouth is a narrow sign with a message:  Learn more...

  96. A man wearing a hard hat and protective gear yeilds an axe.
    Information icon Martin Ramos of Vieques National Wildlife Refuge in Puerto Rico lends a hand at the West Mims fire. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    Puerto Ricans bring fight to fire

    May 2, 2017 | 3 minute read

    Folkston, Georgia – Martin Ramos will always remember that call: “Report to the Okefenokee”. That was six years ago, when a fire rose to life in the middle of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and steadily grew. By the time the 2011 Honey Prairie fire had been extinguished, it had burned more than 300,000 acres. It also sparked an interest in Ramos, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) fire officer assigned to the Service’s Vieques NWR in Puerto Rico.  Learn more...

  97. A head-on photograph of two grey fighter jets flying in formation with a blue sky and clouds in the background.
    Information icon Two F-22 Raptors from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly in formation. Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Meneguin, U.S. Air Force.

    Biologists on bases: Fish and Wildlife joins the military

    April 26, 2017 | 6 minute read

    Melanie Kaeser is embedded with the military at Tyndall Air Force Base. She patrols the pine forests and swampy wetlands as F-16s and F-22s maneuver overhead. Her mission: protect those in harm’s way - the gopher tortoises, the St. Andrews Beach mice and the Godfrey’s butterworts.  Learn more...

  98. Four small beers presented to give the drinker a taste of several types of beer.
    Flight of beers. Photo by Jennifer Schmennifer, CC BY-NC 2.0.

    Beer makers brew up conservation benefits

    April 14, 2017 | 5 minute read

    The next time you order a cool one from your home-grown brewery, check the label: You might be helping save a shorebird. Or setting aside some land for butterflies. Or maybe even supporting a lion. Local breweries across the nation have discovered species conservation. Their products and activities are proof. Some brew-masters concoct limited-edition ales showcasing a creature of their choice. Others stipulate that a certain percentage of profits go to species preservation.  Learn more...

  99. A large limestone island emerges from the sea covered in green vegetation.
    Monito Island is an uninhabited and mostly inaccessible island of only about 36 acres. It lies west of Puerto Rico and was designated a U.S. National Natural Landmark in 1975. Photo by USFWS.

    Tiny Monito gecko is thriving and proposed for removal from endangered species list

    April 10, 2017 | 3 minute read

    The Monito gecko is a resilient little critter. Living only on one small chunk of rock in the Caribbean Sea, the lizard has become so abundant that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is set to make a decision later this year about its listing status under the Endangered Species Act.  Learn more...

  100. Heavy machinery begins pounding away at a concrete dam.
    Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

    Dam going, nature returning

    March 28, 2017 | 4 minute read

    On Tuesday, March 28, a large yellow machine with a pile driver affixed to its arm clanked onto the concrete shoulder of lock and dam No. 6 on the Green River. Its operator lifted the driver, a slender length of steel ending in a point. He aimed it at a spot where workers had toiled to build a wall a century earlier.  Learn more...

  101. A tiny beige tortoise walking on sandy soil.
    Baby gopher tortoise. Photo by Randy Browning, USFWS.

    Protecting military readiness and the iconic gopher tortoise at the same time

    March 24, 2017 | 6 minute read

    Tifton, Georgia – There isn’t a military base for 50 miles, but the Army plays a critical role at the Alapaha River Wildlife Management Area. A first-in-the-nation conservation plan, crafted by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and wildlife agencies in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, protects at-risk gopher tortoises here while helping military bases to continue training and testing missions across the tortoise’s Southern turf.  Learn more...

  102. Mature trees form a canopy shading the river from the sun.
    Conasauga River shaded by trees. Photo by USFWS.

    Saving an endangered southern river

    March 22, 2017 | 6 minute read

    Crandall, Georgia – The Conasauga River courses through Jimmy Petty’s corn, bean and dairy farm near the Tennessee line. The Conasauga River flows through Jimmy Petty’s farm near Crandall, Ga. Photo by Dan Chapman, USFWS. Petty and his brothers own seven miles of riverfront, much of it covered one recent morning in bright green winter wheat, along both sides of the Conasauga. The mountains of the Chattahoochee National Forest offer a postcard-perfect backdrop.  Learn more...

  103. A brown bat attached to the roof of a cave with white fuzz around its nose
    Information icon In this 2016 photo, a tri-colored bat with evidence of White Nose Syndrome (WNS) hibernates on the wall of the Black Diamond Tunnel in the North Georgia mountains. Photo by Pete Pattavina, USFWS.

    Disease continues its fatal sweep of bats

    March 14, 2017 | 5 minute read

    The oars splashed, that slight sound magnified as it echoed off rock walls that led to a distant, black point. With each pull, the tunnel’s illuminated opening got smaller – the darkness, greater. Pete Pattavina paused in mid-paddle. He saw a cluster of creatures. They hung from the wall as the boat floated past. Each was a bat, folded in winter slumber. One day soon, they’d leave their hibernaculum in the mountains of North Georgia.  Learn more...

  104. A red, semi-transluscent fish with catfish like whiskers in an aquarium.
    Information icon Ouachita madtom. Photo by Conservation Fisheries.

    17 more fish, mussels, and other species don’t need the ESA’s protection

    February 8, 2017 | 3 minute read

    Scientists recently proposed that 17 species including the Ouachita madtom, a whiskery fish found in Arkansas, be removed from a petition that had called for its protection under the Endangered Species Act.  Learn more...

  105. A group of seven people crouching on a beach while holding a 16 foot python.
    Information icon Irula tribesmen from India have been helping state and federal officials in Florida capture invasive pythons. This 16-foot female turned up in a disused bunker at a closed missile site at Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Ed Metzger, University of Florida.

    Pythons nose their way into Florida Keys

    February 8, 2017 | 2 minute read

    Four large crawlers – one, a female, was nearly 16 feet long – turned up within the last month at an old missile base at Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  Learn more...

  106. A bright green parrot with red markings on its face and blue flight feathers.
    When in flight, some of the PR Parrots show their beautiful blue primary feathers. En español: Algunas cotorras muestran sus bellas plumas primarias azules al volar. Bosque del Estado, Maricao, Puerto Rico. Photo by Jan Paul Zegarra, Biologist, USFWS

    A new beginning: Puerto Rican parrots reintroduced into Maricao Commonwealth Forest

    November 30, 2016 | 5 minute read

    The future looks bright for the Puerto Rican parrot. Conservation professionals have been working toward the parrot’s reintroduction to the the Maricao Forest for more than 40 years.  Learn more...

  107. Bright green needles emerge from a central cone of a longleaf pine tree
    Information icon Longleaf pine needles. Photo by Dot Paul, USDA NRCS.

    Seeing the forest for the trees

    April 6, 2016 | 3 minute read

    More than 30 animal species that depend on longleaf pine forests are federally listed as endangered or threatened, and many more are considered to be at-risk. This is why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with partners to restore longleaf pine across the southeastern United States.  Read the full story...

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