FRIENDS OF ANAHUAC REFUGE
Campaign to Save Beleaguered Monarch Butterfly
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched a major campaign aimed at saving the declining monarch butterfly.
The Service signed a cooperative agreement with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), announced a major new funding initiative with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and pledged $2 million in immediate funding for on-the-ground conservation projects around the country.
Introducing the new initiatives at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. were Service Director Dan Ashe, U.S. Senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar, NWF President and CEO Collin O’Mara, and NFWF representatives.
Monarchs are found across the United States. While they numbered some 1 billion in 1996, their numbers have declined by approximately 90 percent in recent years. The decline is the result of numerous threats, particularly loss of habitat due to agricultural practices, development and cropland conversion. Degradation of wintering habitat in Mexico and California has also had a negative impact on the species.
“We can save the monarch butterfly in North America, but only if we act quickly and together,” said Ashe. “And that is why we are excited to be working with the National Wildlife Federation and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to engage Americans everywhere, from schools and community groups to corporations and governments, in protecting and restoring habitat. Together we can create oases for monarchs in communities across the country.”
The memorandum of understanding between NWF and the Service will serve as a catalyst for national collaboration on monarch conservation, particularly in planting native milkweed and nectar plants, the primary food sources in breeding and migration habitats for the butterfly.
The new NFWF Monarch Conservation Fund was kick-started by an injection of $1.2 million from the Service that will be matched by private and public donors. The fund will provide the first dedicated source of funding for projects working to conserve monarchs.
From California to the Corn Belt, the Service will also fund numerous conservation projects totaling $2 million this year to restore and enhance more than 200,000 acres of habitat for monarchs while also supporting more than 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens. Many of the projects will focus on the I-35 corridor from Texas to Minnesota, areas that provide important spring and summer breeding habitats in the eastern population’s central flyway.
The monarch may be the best-known butterfly species in the United States. Every year they undertake one of the world’s most remarkable migrations, traveling thousands of miles over many generations from Mexico, across the United States, to Canada.
The monarch’s exclusive larval host plant and a critical food source is native milkweed, which has been eradicated or severely degraded in many areas across the U.S. The accelerated conversion of the continent’s native short and tallgrass prairie habitat to crop production has also had an adverse impact on the monarch.
The monarch serves as an indicator of the health of pollinators across the American landscape. Conserving and connecting habitat for monarchs will benefit other plants, animals and important insect and avian pollinators.
A new Web site -- http://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch -- provides information on how Americans can get involved with the campaign.
Image: Monarch butterflies at Anahuac NWR, photo by Joe Blackburn
For more stories like this, visit http://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/newswire/
Fostering a New Generation Of Outdoor Enthusiasts
The newest Conserving the Future implementation team – the Outdoor Recreation Team – is developing a strategy to expand outdoor recreation on national wildlife refuges to fulfill Recommendation 18 (http://1.usa.gov/1yftGMA). The goal is to create a Refuge System recreation program that is relevant and accessible to all Americans in order to create a connected conservation constituency.
The team is chaired by Marcia Pradines, chief of the Division of Visitor Services and Communications; Will Meeks, assistant regional director for refuges in the Mountain-Prairie Region; and Charlie Blair, assistant regional director for refuges in the Midwest Region.
“The Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Recreation Team did a terrific job writing a strategic plan that will advance hunting and fishing on national wildlife refuges,” said Pradines. “This new team will focus on recreation that is both compatible to the wildlife conservation mission of refuges but also more accessible to ‘nature novices.’ This team is considering how to invite them to enjoy and care about wildlife, and help them become comfortable enjoying the great outdoors.”
The Outdoor Recreation Team is assembling four sub-teams, working to prepare draft products as early as July. The sub-teams are:
Obama Administration Moves to Protect Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Recommends Largest Ever Wilderness Designation
President Obama’s Administration moved to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, widely considered one of the most spectacular and remote areas in the world.
The Department of the Interior released a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the refuge, which recommends additional protections, and President Obama announced he will make an official recommendation to Congress to designate core areas of the refuge – including its Coastal Plain – as wilderness, the highest level of protection available to public lands. If Congress chooses to act, it would be the largest ever wilderness designation since Congress passed the Wilderness Act more than 50 years ago.
“Designating vast areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness reflects the significance this landscape holds for America and its wildlife,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “Just like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s crown jewels and we have an obligation to preserve this spectacular place for generations to come.”
Based on the best available science and extensive public comment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s preferred alternative in the CCP recommends 12.28 million acres – including the Coastal Plain – for designation as wilderness. The Service also recommends four rivers – the Atigun, Hulahula, Kongakut, and Marsh Fork Canning – for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Currently, more than 7 million acres of the refuge are managed as wilderness, consistent with the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. Only Congress has the authority to designate Wilderness areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers. Recommendations for Wilderness or Wild and Scenic River designations require approval of the Service Director, Secretary of the Interior and the President.
The Service is not seeking further public comment on the revised CCP/EIS, but it will be available to the public for review for 30 days, after which, the record of decision will be published. At that point, the President will make the formal wilderness recommendation to Congress.
The 19.8 million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to the most diverse wildlife in the arctic, including caribou, polar bears, gray wolves, and muskoxen. More than 200 species of birds, 37 land mammal species, eight marine mammal species and 42 species of fish call the vast refuge home. Lagoons, beaches, saltmarshes, tundra and forests make up the remote and undisturbed wild area that spans five distinct ecological regions.
For information about the CCP: http://www.fws.gov/home/arctic-ccp/
For more stories like this visit: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/newswire/
Saturday, February 28, 9am-noon, meet near the VIS
A volunteer workday has been scheduled for Saturday, February 28. Volunteers will be helping build bird perches to be used in the Rookery at the Skillern Tract and also doing some landscape work in and around the Butterfly Garden. Lunch will be provided to all volunteers. The Butterfly Garden is one of the first places refuge visitors see and home to native plant species on the refuge, so keeping it clean is important! Click here for more event information and to register.
Audubon Texas / FOAR Monthly Bird Survey
Saturday, March 7, 9am-noon, meet near the VIS
Black-bellied Plover photo taken by Colin Shields at Anahuac NWR
Save the Date!
**FOAR Member Appreciation Event**
Saturday, March 21, 2015
National Wildlife Refuge System News
Budget Increased Proposed for USFWS in 2016
USFWS staff leading environmental education at Anahuac NWR; USFWS
Big news from the White House this month as the President has proposed a significant budget increase of more than $100 million for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 2016.
Check out the details here
President Requests $1.6 Billion in Fiscal Year 2016 for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Read more information from the National Wildlife Refuge Association.
Photo courtesy of USFWS
For more stories like this, visit https://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/newswire/
Attention beginner and expert birding enthusiasts!
Check out the first edition of The Gulf Gazette! It is a newsletter from USFWS Inventory & Monitoring biologists working in the Gulf Coast Zone, including Anahuac NWR.
Attention beginner and expert birding enthusiasts!!
A FREE birding workshop is scheduled for December 15, 2014. The workshop is presented as a result of an exciting new partnership between Audubon Coastal Texas and The Friends of Anahuac Refuge (FOAR). The goals of this partnership are to conduct monthly free workshops to train volunteers to identify waterbirds along the upper Texas coast including Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and other good birding locations in this coastal area. The waterbird monitoring project is needed to first establish a baseline of numbers of birds and secondly to use the information to manage waterbird populations by species.
These workshops will teach volunteers how to collect information by waterbird monitoring at the coastal locations such as Anahuac refuge and other sites. This workshop will be approximately one hour and will be paired with a 1-2 hour field trip which will help volunteers become comfortable with identifying waterbirds and filling out the census form. Beginner and experienced birders are all welcome to participate.
The first workshop will begin at 9:00 am until approximately 10:00 am December 15, 2014 at the USFWS Chenier Plains NWR Complex Headquarters (ANWR Visitor Center) on FM563 about 2 miles south of I-10 and 4 miles north of Anahuac. Then there will be a 1-2 hour bird survey in the field ending by 12pm. Bring your binoculars and favorite field guide, Audubon will bring extras for those who have none. Also, bring a bottle water and a light snack for this event and wear weather appropriate clothing including walking shoes/hiking boots.
For additional information contact Travis Lovelace, 409 277-9112 or 409 252-3454 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Ibis photo by Danni Hill Previte
Prescribed Fire and Other Heated Language
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service firefighters regularly reduce wildfire risk and help restore wildlife habitat by conducting prescribed burns at national wildlife refuges. When they do so, they use technical talk that can be confusing. Here’s a primer of some commonly used terms:
Wildland fire: Any fire burning in a natural area, either a prescribed fire or a wildfire.
Prescribed fire: A planned wildland fire started and managed by professional firefighters in accordance with an approved prescribed fire burn plan, which specifies allowable conditions for burning and desired results. Also called a prescribed burn. Sometimes called a controlled burn.
Drip torch: Hand-held steel canister with a spout commonly used by wildland fire specialists to ignite prescribed fires or fight wildfires by dispensing flaming liquid – a mixture of diesel and gasoline – onto burnable vegetation. Related tools include: flame thrower (aka Terra Torch ®), usually mounted on a truck, trailer or off-road vehicle, used to shoot a horizontal stream of gelled gasoline; helitorch, hung from or mounted on a helicopter to disperse ignited lumps of gelled gasoline from the air; and ping pong balls, plastic balls filled with flammable chemicals that are dropped from a helicopter and ignite after hitting the ground.
Fuels: Live or dead vegetation – such as grass, overgrown brush, trees or logging slash – that could fuel a wildfire. Also called hazardous fuels when referring to conditions creating high risk of wildfire.
Fuels management: The practice of reducing wildfire risk through planned and approved actions to thin or remove vegetation that could fuel a wildfire. Fuels treatments can also improve wildlife habitat and commonly are done on a rotating schedule using prescribed fire, mechanical removal with chainsaws or heavy equipment, and chemical treatment with herbicides. Also called hazardous fuels reduction when referring to conditions creating high risk of wildfire.
Control line: An inclusive term for constructed or natural barriers used to stop the spread of a wildland fire. The part scraped or dug to mineral soil is called a fireline.
Spot fire: A new fire start ignited outside of control lines by blowing or falling embers from the main fire. Wildland firefighters must routinely monitor for spot fires, which can occur miles away, depending on weather conditions.
Smoke management: Decisions and actions taken by wildland firefighters, land managers and air quality regulators, especially during prescribed fire, to minimize or divert smoke from settling into populated or high-traffic areas. This prevents health and safety hazards, such as poor air quality or impaired visibility. Managing smoke is more difficult during wildfires. It sometimes involves scientific monitoring of particulate levels and public notice of air quality.
Cohesive Strategy: An initiative of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture in which governmental and non-governmental organizations collaborate to manage wildland fire by responding to individual wildfires, supporting fire-adapted communities, and restoring and maintaining fire-resilient lands. It is officially known as the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy.
Photo: USFWS Fire Crew working on wildfire on McFaddin NWR, 2013
FOAR Partnering with Audubon Texas for Waterbird Surveys, Volunteers Needed
The Friends of Anahuac Refuge (FOAR) is partnering with Audubon’s Texas Estuarine Resource Network (T.E.R.N.). TERN supports the Texas coastal areas, including 177 coastal islands. The goals of this partnership are to conduct monthly free workshops to train volunteers to identify waterbirds on or near Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), and to provide free guided field trips. This waterbird monitoring project is needed to first establish a baseline of numbers of birds and secondly to use the information to manage waterbird populations by species. Collected information will be shared with wildlife professionals such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (including the Anahuac NWR) and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The program is designed to train individuals to conduct monitoring with a group or independently. These activities will then support continuing education so new birders are learning to identify waterbirds better, and experienced birders are sharing their knowledge with new or intermediate birders.
One of the first workshops will be the T.E.R.N. monitoring workshop to teach volunteers how to collect information on waterbird monitoring at the refuge and other sites. The workshop will be approximately two hours and will be paired with a 1-2 hours field trip to become comfortable with identifying birds and filling out the census form. Each survey takes 20 minutes to conduct and more than one location could be visited.
The second workshop will focus on identification of colonial waterbirds such as egrets, herons, Black Skimmers, cormorants, pelicans, ibis, etc. and how to identify these birds in breeding and winter plumage, or as juveniles. The workshop will be followed by a 1-2 hour field trip. This workshop was recently conducted in Galveston County and was a huge success with 30 people attending.
We need your help to get started on this exciting and important project. Come join novice and experienced birders to observe waterbirds and record theirs numbers and behaviors. I’m looking forward to all of us gaining experience and knowledge and to learn of new areas for birding.
For more information about volunteering for this project on the refuge,
please contact Travis Lovelace at (409) 252-3454 or (409) 277-9112 or email@example.com.
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