FRIENDS OF ANAHUAC REFUGE
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R/V Tiglax: Alaska Maritime Refuge's Vehicle for Research
By Andrea Medeiros, Public Affairs Specialist, Alaska Regional Office, Anchorage, AK
Imagine working on a ship that takes you 15,000 miles through remote islands, from the Gulf of Alaska to the Bering Sea, in support of conservation. Six U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service jobs provide this opportunity, all operating out of Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge aboard the R/V Tiglax.
“Sometimes you don’t see another ship for days at a time,” says Captain Billy Pepper, who has worked on the Tiglax for more than 20 years and is responsible for the ship as well as hiring and managing the crew. Combined, the captain, first mate, two deckhands, a cook and an engineer have 60-plus-years’ experience sailing the refuge.
Constantly on the move during the six-month field season that starts in April, the crew works 12 hours a day, seven days a week and is always on call. The Tiglax is at sea for extended periods of time without Internet or cell service. Beyond the hours and the isolation, weather, mechanical problems, medical issues and even natural disasters can challenge the crew.
The challenges of working on the Tiglax are counterbalanced by being among rocky islands with spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife and distinctive cultural histories. Every summer more than 40 million seabirds nest on Alaska Maritime Refuge. One of the islands, Buldir, boasts more nesting seabirds than anywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere. The Tiglax also encounters whales, porpoises, seals, sea lions and other marine mammals.
Built in 1987, the 120-foot-long Tiglax plays a critical role in meeting Alaska Maritime Refuge’s research purpose by supporting scientists from the Service, universities, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and elsewhere.
Umnak and Samalga islands in the eastern Aleutians have been part of the refuge since 1913. Last summer, thanks to the Tiglax, refuge biologists were able to survey the islands’ coastlines for the first time. They discovered tens of thousands of shorebirds in the intertidal zone of Samalga Island, potentially a globally significant resting area for shorebirds on their summer migration.
In 2015, the Tiglax also supported a regular survey of sea otters in the western Aleutians and a second, rare survey on the hard-to-access Pacific Ocean side of Amchitka Island. Both will help biologists better understand sea otters.
What other new discoveries are out there on Alaska Maritime Refuge? The possibility of being part of making a new one keeps the crew of the Tiglax coming back.
CAPTION: The R/V Tiglax cruising off Bogoslof Island. Built in 1987, the Tiglax, which means eagle in Aleut, is 120 feet long and has a range of 14,500 miles before refueling is needed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service vessel supports scientific research at Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. More photos: http://bit.ly/1MGt2KZ (Paul Wade)
For more stories like this, visit http://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/newswire/
By Cynthia Martinez, Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System
Some 380 of the nation’s 1,591 endangered and threatened species find a home on national wildlife refuges. The reason is straightforward: Home is where the habitat is.
So it makes sense that restoring habitat and implementing the best science and management techniques are the roads to recovery for species. Sounds simple. It’s not.
National wildlife refuges and other parts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have long faced competing demands that can change and tug and pull in different directions. Multi-year projects can be tough to fund from one year to the next. That’s why the Cooperative Recovery Initiative (CRI) is making a difference.
The Service Director some years ago recognized that we needed a focused program that puts combined resources and partnership muscle on refuges and in areas with a close nexus to them if we are to maintain and expand high quality habitat for trust resources. So was born the CRI, a competitive program with specific criteria that gives funding to collaborative projects.
CRI absolutely stresses collaboration – both among Service programs that sometimes operate in silos and with private landowners, who can make all the difference for the health of fish, wildlife and plant species.
The competition for funding has been intense – and beneficial. First there’s the regional selection process. Then the top regional projects are submitted to a national review team that represents all Service programs. A second round of reviews at the Service’s Headquarters has ensured that funding goes to the projects most likely to succeed.
In fact, the need to show results quickly has set CRI apart from other initiatives. CRI not only requires that each project have a monitoring protocol, but it also decides on funding for up to three additional years by considering data that demonstrate a project is making discernible progress.
At the same time, the CRI process incorporates all elements of Strategic Habitat Conservation. Service staff members employ biological planning and design to develop project proposals. Selected proposals are then implemented – the “conservation delivery” step – and results are monitored. The outcomes then feed back into biological planning and adaptive management.
A prime example of CRI success is the Oregon chub, the first fish ever removed from the federal Endangered Species list. The Oregon chub is found only in the Willamette River Basin. Just eight populations and fewer than 1,000 fish were known to exist when it was listed as endangered in 1993. While the minnow’s recovery was thanks to the work of many dedicated Service partners, the CRI invigorated the recovery program and led to the chub’s delisting years earlier than might otherwise have happened.
Collaboration is the key to so much conservation success. It is the centerpiece of the Cooperative Recovery Initiative. Working across program lines and with partners, the Service can recover species listed as threatened and endangered and create a conservation legacy for the next generation.
To read some CRI success stories, go to the January-February issue of Refuge Update: http://1.usa.gov/1OxDXuB
Brown Pelican at Anahuac NWR photo by Norman Welsh
Thank you for supporting Anahuac NWR in 2015!
Remember to renew your membership for 2016!
Photo of the VIS Pond at sunset by Allen Biedrzycki at Anahuac NWR
Save the date!
FOAR Annual Meeting &
Anahuac NWR Volunteer Banquet
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Urban Partnership Launched in Houston
Clinton City Park in Houston was bustling with activity on November 18 when 300 people gathered to celebrate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Houston Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, one of 17 partnerships around the country designed to connect city residents with conservation stewardship. The Houston partnership brings together more than 20 organizations to help Houstonians learn about, find, and care for nature in their community.
Click here to read the full USFWS article
National Wildlife Refuge System News
New Deputy Chief of Refuge System
Former Anahuac NWR Manager Shaun Sanchez has been named new Deputy Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System following the promotion of previous Deputy Chief Cynthia Martinez.
Read the story here
Support Anahuac NWR at Kroger
Buy a Book About the Refuge...
to Support the Refuge!
The 50th anniversary books are for sale at the
Visitor Center and Visitor Information Station as well as online on our book project page. The book tells the story of the Anahuac NWR's 50th year through photographs and writing all done by volunteers. Profits from book sales go back to the Friends to pay for refuge projects.
Check out an article from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service about the book here.
Don't Forget to Renew Your Membership!
Giant Swallowtail at Anahuac NWR
Photo by Norman Welsh
Thank you for supporting YOUR
New App Helps Sort Millions of Trail Camera Images
There’s an app for that.
It’s called Moniker, and it’s available free at the App Store for iPhone and iPad users.
At New Mexico’s Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge alone, 36 cameras amassed 2.7 million images in four years. Typically, sorting that mountain of imagery for scientific analysis means enlisting family, friends, volunteers and neighbors. Meanwhile, more cameras are positioned and the imagery backlog mushrooms.
The Moniker app allows anyone, anywhere to sort camera-trap imagery. The crowd-sourcing approach helps manage the imagery backlog, while the app helps generate public appreciation of America’s wildlife. In return, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service obtains sorted images useful for addressing management and conservation priorities.
The app operates by downloading 15 still (not video) images at a time to an iPhone or iPad. The app pulls up each image individually, and the user classifies the species by using a scrolling wheel. The user then identifies the number of individual animals. Because most images contain one or two individuals, the app has buttons for these. Otherwise, the number of individuals is keyed in. If, something, say blowing grass, triggers the camera without capturing a wildlife species, the code “ghost” is used.
Ultimately, this process sorts the images and stores them on a remote server, where they are ready for project use. To ensure data quality, each image is sorted multiple times and majority opinion prevails. The final sort is subsampled and checked for accuracy before analysis.
To try the app, go to the App Store on your iPhone (model 4, OS version 8.4.1 or newer) and iPad (model 2 or newer) and search for “Moniker.” Moniker may not immediately pop up in the suggestions, so hit the Search tab again and it will.
For more information on how the app can be used for scientific analyses, contact Gran Harris, chief of biological services for the Southwest Region, at Grant_Harris@fws.gov.
CAPTION-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remote trail cameras capture a steady stream of images of wildlife, such as this one of a coyote chasing pronghorn at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. A new crowd-sourcing app helps to sift through and label the images.
Photos courtesy of USFWS:
Top photo-Tiffany Lane speaks to group
Middle photo- Students examine their invertebrates
Bottom photo- Students in Roots and Shoots having fun
Over his Service career, Sanchez has worked in four regions. Most recently, he was chief of the Refuge System Division of Budget, Performance, and Workforce. In that post, he helped set and manage annual Refuge System performance measures and direct a comprehensive evaluation of the Refuge System’s overall effectiveness in delivering its mission.
Earlier in his career, he has served as deputy assistant regional director in the Southeast regional office in Atlanta; manager at Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Nevada; deputy refuge manager at Yukon Delta Refuge in Alaska; and refuge manager at Anahuac Refuge in Texas.
Shaun began his Service career as a student trainee at two Southwestern refuges. He holds a biology degree from New Mexico Highlands University. Sanchez is the son of Martin and Joyce Sanchez of Las Vegas, N.M.
During National Wildlife Refuge Week
October 13–17, 2015
Photo by Allen Biedrzycki at Anahuac NWR
Nature moves us. What better time to celebrate that connection with the natural world than National Wildlife Refuge Week?
National wildlife refuges, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are part of Americans’ rich natural heritage. They have been so since 1903, when President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on Pelican Island, Fl.
Anahuac, McFaddin, and Texas Point NWRs are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the nation’s premier public network of lands and water dedicated to habitat and wildlife conservation. The nation’s 563 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts offer visitors wonderful opportunities to fish, hunt, hike or see and photograph iconic wildlife in its natural setting.
Refuges also help clean our air, filter our water, teach our children and support local economies. More than 47 million people visit a refuge each year.
Ninety percent of refuge visitors come away pleased according to a 2012 study by the U.S. Geological Survey. “Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land, the plants, and the wildlife,” said one respondent.
Here’s what Texas Chenier Plain NWRs Complex, located at 4017 FM 563 (map), Anahuac, Texas, has planned to help you celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week:
Learn how you can help protect and preserve your natural resources. Start here at the Texas Chenier Plain NWRs Complex. Consider volunteering or joining us a Friends member and volunteer
For more information about national wildlife refuges, visit: www.fws.gov/refuges or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usfwsrefuges.
The Friends of Anahuac Refuge was established in 1997 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Anahuac, TX.
For questions, call the refuge office at 409-267-3337.
P.O. Box 1348
Anahuac, TX 77514
Refuge Office Address:
4017 FM 563, Anahuac, TX 77514