Southwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America
Southwest Region USFWS facebook page Southwest Region USFWS page Southwest region USFWS Flikr page USFWS YouTube site
Bees and butterflies on flower
Southwest Region Highlights HotTopics
Sky Island habitats of Guadalupe fescue, Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park

Sky Island habitats of Guadalupe fescue, Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park. Credit: Chris Best, USFWS.

Service Proposes to Protect Guadalupe Fescue Under the Endangered Species Act
Service is Working with National Park Service and Mexico to Conserve West Texas plant

September 2016
The high mountains of the Chihuahuan Desert in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas and the State of Coahuila, Mexico are home to Guadalupe fescue, a short-lived perennial grass species. Only two populations are known to exist, one in the Chisos Mountains within Big Bend National Park and one in the Maderas del Carmen Mountains in northern Mexico.

The Service is proposing to list Guadalupe fescue as endangered and designate critical habitat within Big Bend National Park. The proposals will be available in the Federal Register Reading room on Thursday, September 8th and will publish in the Federal Register on Friday, September 9th. Public comments will be accepted through November 8, 2016. Additional information on Guadalupe fescue and the proposals are available at

Read the News Release
Read the FAQs
Read the Federal Register Notice on the Proposed Listing
Read the Federal Register Notice on Proposed Critical Habitat


Houston toad

Houston toad. Credit: Paige Najvar, USFWS.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Evaluating Safe Harbor Agreement for the Houston Toad

August 2016
The Service is publishing a Notice of Availability of a draft Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement for the Houston toad submitted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and draft environmental assessment. The Agreement would facilitate conservation actions by interested landowners that could assist in the recovery of the Houston toad, listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The Houston toad is a small, greenish-brown, speckled amphibian that can be distinguished from other toads by its unique high-pitched, trill-sounding call that males emit during breeding choruses each spring. It was one of the first amphibians federally listed as an endangered species and is listed as endangered by the State of Texas. The Houston toad occurs mostly on privately owned property in nine Texas counties including Austin, Bastrop, Burleson, Colorado, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Milam, and Robertson.

The Notice will be available in the Federal Register Reading room on Friday, August 26th and will publish in the Federal Register on Monday, August 29th. Public comments will be accepted through October 28th.

Read additional information on the Houston toad and the draft Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement.
Read the News Release
Read the FAQs
Read the Federal Register Notice


Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and the Barry M. Goldwater Range East Proposes Visitor Use Changes in the Childs Valley and Childs Mountain Regions

August 2016
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is proposing to provide additional recreational opportunities for visitor to experience the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. These recreational opportunities include bicycling and motorized vehicles in select areas of the refuge.  For more information please see the updated press release on the Cabeza Prieta NWR home page.  The comment period extends to COB September 16, 2016.

Learn more...

Valle de Oro 4th Birthday Celebration Valle de Oro holds its 4th birthday celebration. Credit: USFWS.

Valle de Oro Turns Four!

August 2016
Join us at Valle de Oro’s fourth birthday celebration happening September 24th, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm.There will be food trucks, music, cake, and tours of the refuge; what’s more, the event is 100% free! Bring the kids and don’t forget to invite the neighbors.

Visit Valle de Oro's website and learn more about the refuge.

Download the Celebration flyer.






Public Invited to Review Hunt Plan and Compatibility Determination

August 2016
Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (refuge), in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) as part of an updated Hunt Plan, along with a Compatibility Determination (CD) which includes opening additional areas to white-tailed deer, and upland game hunting, and including feral hog hunting for incidental harvest, during the controlled deer and upland game hunts. The public is invited to review the EA, Hunt Plan and CD and provide comments.

The documents are available for review on the refuge website or by visiting refuge headquarters. The public is encouraged to provide input by writing to: Outdoor Recreation Planner, Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, 107993 S. 4520 Rd, Vian OK 74962; or e-mail *Please put “Scoping Public Input - Hunting” in the subject line of the email. Comments will be accepted until September 16, 2016.

Access the documents and learn more.

Migratory Bird Centennial

Migratory Bird Centennial poster. Credit: USFWS.

Centennial Perspectives: the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916
A Compilation by Jason Mercado, Migratory Birds

August 2016
August 16, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the first Migratory Bird Treaty, which is the foundation for the conservation of migratory birds in the United States and its territories. The first treaty was signed with Great Britain (on behalf of Canada), while subsequent treaties were signed with Mexico (1936), Japan (1972) and Russia (1976). The Treaty, which was implemented by the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918, has undoubtedly prevented many migratory bird species from becoming extinct and has kept our avian resources in balance with nature and societal needs.

Learn more about the Migratory Bird Treaty.




ocelot running through refuge

Ocelot crossing over land. Credit: USFWS.

Service Announces Availability of the Recovery Plan for the Ocelot, First Revision
Plan Focuses on Cross Border Management Units in Texas and Arizona

August 2016
The Service is announcing the availability of the final recovery plan for endangered ocelot. The plan was developed by the Bi-national Ocelot Recovery Team, which is comprised of experts from both the United States and Mexico, and it updates the original1990 recovery plan to reflect current species information as well as address the changed social and economic landscapes in Texas, Arizona, and northern Mexico.

Read the recovery plan.


Sevilleta students share summer adventures

Sevilleta students share their sumer adventures and expierences. Students are from left to right: Lauren Slater, Marian Furumi, Michelle Sauers, and Jacob Riley. Credit: John Bradley, USFWS.

Students Share Summer Adventures

August 2016
Gaining hands-on field experience is an important step in a conservation career.  Interns working at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico recently shared their wild summer experiences with other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees. Interns assisted the Refuge with a variety of work throughout the summer honing field skills and developing valuable work experience.   

Learn more about Student Opportunties...  
Learn more about Sevilleta Refuge...  

Willow Beach pumpline.

Through a collaborative partnership, the FWS Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery is now equipped with a newly installed floating pipeline. Credit: USFWS.

Reliable Water Source Ensure Trout Production at Willow Beach

August 2016
A new water intake for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery in Willow Beach, Arizona, has been built and tested in Lake Mohave, and that is good news for anglers and conservationists. With an assured, reliable cold water source, rainbow trout production can restart at the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery. In partnership with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and others, the FWS anticipates stocking catchable-sized trout for anglers as early as February 2017.

Learn more about Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery

Read the News Release


Texas hornshell mussels

Texas hornshell mussels. Credit: Joel Lusk, NMESFO, USFWS.

Last Remaining Native Mussel in New Mexico Proposed for Protection Under the Endangered Species Act

August 2016
Once abundant throughout rivers in southern New Mexico and the Rio Grande basin in Texas and Mexico, the Texas hornshell, a freshwater mussel, has experienced a dramatic decline. Today, it is the only native mussel remaining in New Mexico and is scarce in Texas, occupying only 15% of its historical U.S. range. After thoroughly reviewing the best available science, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to protect the mussel as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We are seeking comments on the proposed listing until October 11, 2016.

Read additional information about the Texas Coast.
Read the news release
Read the FAQs


Dr. Tuggle signs the Urban Bird Treaty

Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, signs the treaty designating Albuquerque as an Urban Bird Treaty City.
Credit: Aislinn Naestas, USFWS.

Albuquerque Urban Bird Treaty Signing Celebration
Recognizing achievements in migratory bird education and conservation

August 2016
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), joined by a number of partners, officially signed a treaty designating the City of Albuquerque as an Urban Bird Treaty City on Saturday, August 6, 2016. The treaty signing event recognized the migratory bird conservation and education accomplishments to date in Albuquerque under a two-year Urban Bird Treaty grant, and celebrated the renewed commitment of partners to continue work in Albuquerque for migratory birds beyond the grant. The Urban Bird Treaty program is a unique collaborative effort between the Service and cities, bringing together private citizens, Federal, State, and municipal agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Learn more...


Monarch butterflies

Monarch butterflies. Credit: USFWS.

Become a Monarch Enthusiast!

August 2016
Ready for a summer activity that is both entertaining and educational? Attend one of six workshops taking place in Albuquerque during the month of August, and you can become a Monarch enthusiast as you learn more about Monarch Butterflies in the Southwest.  The workshops are presented by the Southwest Monarch Study, a non-profit organization dedicated to monarch butterfly research and conservation.  They are co-sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others through the Monarch Joint Venture.  Two of the workshops will be held on National Wildlife Refuges – Valle de Oro and Bosque del Apache.  Learn how the monarch butterfly can breathe without lungs and so much more.  Be sure to attend a workshop this month and impress others with your knowledge.  Free to the public.

Learn more...

A group of young nature enthusiasts enjoy looking for birds and other wildlife A group of young nature enthusiasts enjoy looking for birds and other wildlife. LaVonda Walton, USFWS.

Partnerships Make The Difference

August 2016
In our increasingly urban society, studies have repeatedly shown that access to nature and the outdoors makes us healthier and happier. The opportunities for residents of major urban areas across the country to gain that all-important access just received a substantial boost thanks to new and expanded partnerships led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through its Urban Wildlife Conservation Program. This initiative connects city residents with nature and engages thousands of volunteers in restoring local environments. 

Phoenix, Arizona and Houston, Texas are among numerous cities across the U.S. that received grant funding to support important conservation projects that will make a difference in their local communities and neighborhoods.   

Learn more about conservation grants...

Learn more about the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program

Read the news release...


Westcave grounds after the burn.

Westcave grounds after the burn. Credit: USFWS.

Mission Possible: FWS Partners with Local Austin Preserve

August 2016
Nestled in southwest Travis County, about 35 miles west of Austin, is Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center and Preserve, a well-known open space in the heart of central Texas.  Recently, our Partners for Fish and Wildlife (Austin Ecological Services Field Office), Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Travis Fire Rescue, and Austin Fire Department conducted a prescribed burn on 35 acres of the preserve.  This prescribed burn provided a direct benefit to the golden-cheeked warbler, migratory birds, and native pollinators, including the monarch butterfly.

Learn more...


Map inset shows (in red) the top 100 fastest growing cities in the U.S. in golden-cheeked warbler habitat breeding

Map inset shows (in red) the top 100 fastest growing cities in the U.S. in golden-cheeked warbler habitat breeding range. Credit: USFWS.

Big Thinking in Texas: How to Make the Endangered Species Act Work for All

July 2016
Deep in the heart of central Texas are many of the nation’s fastest growing cities and counties. This rapidly growing region is also considered a national biodiversity hotspot. It is home to numerous rare wildlife species found only in Texas, some of which are protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (Figure 1). This unique natural heritage is associated with the Balcones Escarpment, a rugged landscape that houses one of the most productive artesian aquifers in the world, the Edwards Aquifer. The Balcones Escarpment is where the ocean once met the land and is now located where the Texas Hill Country meets the prairies of Central Texas. Interstate Highway 35 (I-35) follows the escarpment and passes through rapidly-growing cities including Austin and San Antonio. This region, as with most of Texas, is almost entirely privately owned, and a key issue has been to both protect wildlife and facilitate development.

Learn more about how the Endangered Species Act works for all.


Joy Nicholopoulos, DRD, joins Sharon Fuller Barnes, Gary Hutchison and Kary Allen in welsoming the 2016 Student Workshop participants. Credit: Aislinn Maestas, USFWS.

Joy Nicholopoulos, DRD, joins Sharon Fuller-Barnes, Gary Hutchison and Kary Allen in welcoming the 2016 Student Workshop participants. Credit: Aislinn Maestas, USFWS.

2016 Student Workshop Wrap Up

The 2016 Student Wrap-Up Workshop for students working in summer internships through the Pathways Program, Directorate Fellows Program, Career Discover Internship Program, and other student programs took place July 19-20 at the FWS Southwest Regional Office.

Nearly 30 students participated in this year’s workshop. In addition to providing an opportunity to learn about FWS programs and career paths, the workshop allowed students to share their experiences as interns, celebrate their successes, and network with regional office staff and leadership.

Learn more about the workshop, check out the student’s presentations, and see photos from the event on the 2016 Student Wrap-Up Workshop page.

Taxidermist Sentenced for Violating Wildlife Laws

July 2016
Department of Justice - A Corpus Christi taxidermist and hunting guide has been sentenced for violating the Lacey Act, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). He also abandoned more than 60 species of bird mounts that were illegally killed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

Eric Martin Schmidt, 35, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jason B. Libby today and was ordered to pay a $2,500 community service payment to the Lacey Act Reward Fund, and must also serve five years of probation.

Read the entire DoJ news release.


Gunnison prairie dog release

Releasing the prairie dogs at the Refuge. Credit:  Kathy Granillo, USFWS.

Chelwood Elementary School Prairie Dogs Find New Home 

July 2016
Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico, working in partnership with the non-profit group Prairie Dog Pals, provided a new home for displaced Gunnison’s prairie dogs from the Albuquerque area. The Refuge released about 300 prairie dogs onto Refuge lands on July 7, 2016, including approximately 75 prairie dogs from the playing fields at Chelwood Elementary School in Albuquerque.  

“This provides a win-win resolution to the problem of prairie dogs on school grounds,” stated Refuge Manager Kathy Granillo. “The school children at Chelwood now have a safer play area, and the Refuge moves a few steps forward in restoring the grassland ecosystem.”

Learn more...
Learn more about Sevilleta NWR

lesser prairie chicken by andrew lawrence

Lesser prairie chicken in field. Credit: © Andrew Lawrence.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Removes Lesser Prairie-Chicken from List of Threatened and Endangered Species in Accordance with Court Order

 July 2016
The Service is officially removing the lesser prairie-chicken from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in accordance with the September 2015 court order vacating our 2014 listing determination.  This administrative action and the decision not to appeal the court’s ruling do not constitute a biological determination on whether or not the lesser prairie-chicken warrants federal protection. The direct final rule (Docket No. FWS-ES-R2-2016-0028) will be available in the Federal Register Reading Room on July 19, 2016, and publish on July 20, 2016

Learn more...


Cochiti Pueblo Man Arraigned on Federal Indictment Alleging Violation of Migratory Bird Treaty Act

July 2016
Wayne Martin, 44, a member and resident of Cochiti Pueblo, N.M., was arraigned this morning in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., on an indictment charging him with violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. During today’s proceedings, Martin entered a not guilty plea to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that Martin offered to sell three hawks without previously obtaining permission from the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. According to the indictment, Martin committed the crime on Feb. 29, 2012, in Sandoval County, N.M. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it unlawful to possess, offer for sale, or sell any migratory bird, or any part or product of a migratory bird.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Peña.


pollinator garden

The pollinator garden at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Credit:  Kathy Whaley, USFWS.

BEE One in a Million - Plant a Garden for Pollinators!

June 2016
Are you ready for a challenge? A great way to celebrate National Pollinator Week is to join the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. Plant a pollinator garden (even a small one will do!) and register it to become part of this important campaign to support pollinators. The National Pollinator Garden Network says that increasing the number of pollinator-friendly gardens and landscapes will help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across the country. We know you are ready for the Challenge!

Learn "How to Build a Garden."

Register Your Garden

Visit Us on Twitter at #PolliNation.


Bee on Echinacea flower

Bee on an Echinacea flower. Credit: Ryan Hagerty, USFWS.

It’s Time to Make a Buzz!
Celebrate National Pollinator Week

June 2016

Make a buzz during National Pollinator Week June 20-26! Pollinators such as butterflies, bees, birds, beetles, and bats work hard to pollinate flowering plants and nearly 75% of our crops, including coffee and chocolate. Pollinators are essential to our food and to our economy. Find out how you can celebrate National Pollinator Week and help our pollinators thrive!

Here are a few examples of how we are celebrating!

Arizona: Enjoy a walk through the new Pollinator Garden at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Built by volunteers with help from Refuge staff, the Garden is open seven days a week and hosts a variety of pollinators and butterflies. More information call 520-823-4251

New Mexico: “Pollination Celebration” at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge Saturday June 25 9:00am to 3:00pm. More information call 575-835-1828

Oklahoma: “Butterfly Count” Tuesday June 21 starting at 9:00am at Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge. More information: Call 580-371-2402

Texas: “Monarch Migration Game” Saturday June 25 starting at 2:00pm at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. More Information: Call 956-784-7500

Find events around the country:
Learn More:


Refuge Biologist Becomes a Legend

June 2016
Laurie Lomas Gonzales is a wildlife biologist at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Liberty, Texas. In addition to her biologist duties, Laurie is passionate about engaging and immersing people in nature. Using a mix of city and Refuge roads, levees, two-tracks, parks, right-of-ways, and primitive trails Laurie envisioned a network of hiking, biking, and paddling trails that would connect the community of Liberty to Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. From Crosswalks to Boardwalks was born.

Laurie’s vision became a reality and was so successful that she recently was recognized and awarded the American Recreation Coalition’s prestigious Legends Award at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

Legend Award
Refuge Website


Rio Grande cutthroat trout

Rio Cebolla. Credit: USFWS.

Restoration of the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout

June 2016
Restoration of the Rio Grande cutthroat trout by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is possible through Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program dollars, monies first derived from excise taxes paid on hunting, boating and fishing gear. Watch for yourself how anglers pay for native trout conservation.

Watch the video.
Read the video transcript.

Southwest Region Archived News Releases

Search additional archived news releases for the Southwest Region

Wildlife Selfies
Southwest Emphasis Areas
Youth and Students
Women's History in the FWS
We recognize women in our ranks who work to conserve our natural resources in the Southwest Region. Check back to read more about extraordinary women in conservation.
Learn more...
Our Stories
R2 LE Agent Receives Honor Award
Learn more...

The Arizona Game and Fish Department recognizes two of our employees
Learn more...

Science Leadership Award
Grant Harris receives recognition for scientific leadership
Learn more...
Southwest Region's Wounded Warriors
There are eight Wounded Warriors who have joined our ranks.
Learn more...
Two New Refuges
Two new refuges in the Southwest Region are the 559th and 560th refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Learn more...
Last updated: September 9, 2016