FRIENDS OF ANAHUAC REFUGE
Conservation by Multiplication
By: Dan Ashe, Director, US Fish & Wildlife Service
In the 20th century, led by icons including John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, Aldo Leopold and Ding Darling, America created the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the National Wildlife Refuge System and other federal and state public land protections. As a result, nearly 30 percent of the nation’s land is protected, in some form, and stands as a foundation for the future.
In the 21st century, we will strengthen that foundation. But if we want to meet this century’s conservation challenges, we must link the public estate to the more than 70 percent of the land that is privately owned. Many species entrusted to our care rely on private land to survive and thrive. If we’re going to conserve biological diversity, we must keep our public land foundations strong and build on them by engaging private landowners, most of whom are proud land stewards.
That’s why we’ve focused on a vision for the Refuge System that sees refuges as hubs of networks of public and private lands. It’s why our field offices are engaging landowners across the country and developing voluntary conservation easements on hundreds of thousands of acres. These easements and other tools allow us to do conservation work through landowners, helping them achieve sustainable economic use of their lands while protecting and enhancing essential habitat for wildlife.
By linking habitat on these private lands to our public estate, we are doing conservation by multiplication rather than simple addition. And to deal with 21st-century challenges like changing climate, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s next generation will need to graduate to algebra, trigonometry and calculus, creating more complex connections and giving wildlife the means to move across the landscape in step with the seasons, increasing human presence and shifting sources of food and shelter. That’s why we are building next-generation capacities like Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) and Refuge System Inventory and Monitoring.
I recently read an article about Jude Smith, the manager of Buffalo Lake, Muleshoe and Grulla National Wildlife Refuges in Texas and New Mexico. He’s at least in Algebra II already.
“Whatever we are doing on the refuge complex,” he says, “I’m considering how we can take the benefits and knowledge we have gained to surrounding landowners on the larger landscape. This complex is too small to make the big difference for wildlife that we are after.”
Smith knows the formula for success. If you multiply your refuge lands by partnership with private landowners, the product is a landscape that makes the difference.
This is happening as we work to conserve the greater sage-grouse. We have a strong public lands foundation, with 64 percent of the habitat under Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service management. We are strengthening that foundation but also working with and throughout the 11 range states to build strong state conservation programs and enlist private landowners in voluntary conservation. In the end, we are multiplying efforts and conserving a “sagebrush sea” that supports sage-grouse and hundreds of other species.
In Harney County, OR, our folks have signed up nearly 300,000 acres of private ranch lands in conservation agreements. Rancher Tod Strong put it best when he said, “What’s good for the bird is good for the herd.” Amen, Tod.
We can conserve the nature of America, if we think big, like Jude Smith, and reach out to good private land stewards like Tod Strong. Practice multiplication! Prepare for calculus! Think big!
For more stories like this, visit: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/newswire/index.html
Refuges, YouTube Help Researchers Discover Frog Species
With help from YouTube and two national wildlife refuges, researchers have discovered a new species of frog in New York City.
The Atlantic Coast leopard frog’s existence was ratified in the October 2014 PLOS One article “Cryptic Diversity in Metropolis: Confirmation of a New Leopard Frog Species (Anura: Ranidae) from New York City and Surrounding Atlantic Coast Regions.” The discovery was a 10-year journey.
In the mid-2000s, after three years as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service term biologist with Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Jeremy Feinberg decided to pursue a PhD from Rutgers University and focus on why southern leopard frogs had vanished from his native Long Island. For two years, Feinberg spent countless hours in southern New Jersey, where southern leopard frogs thrive. He knew their mating call by heart.
One day he learned there might be a surviving leopard frog population on New York City’s Staten Island. Those frogs would be more genetically and geographically relevant, so one evening in 2008 he visited the Staten Island site.
“Within five or 10 seconds of getting out of my car, I heard a vast chorus of leopard frogs from this big, wet meadow,” he says. “The problem was: The call I was hearing was not the southern leopard frog call. Nor was it a northern leopard frog call. It was a call that I had never heard in my life.”
But, because he was a field herpetologist inexperienced in genetics and taxonomy, he feared no one would believe that he might have found something unusual. He needed help. A series of fortuitous events brought it to him.
In 2009, Feinberg stumbled on a YouTube video that had been shot two years earlier at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, 25 miles west of Manhattan. He contacted the poster, Brian Zarate, an amphibian-reptile zoologist with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Pretty quickly, I said to Brian, I think it’s a new species,” Feinberg recalls.
In 2010, Catherine Newman, then a University of Alabama graduate student, agreed to run the genetics. “She started to see things in the tissues and DNA sequences that made her interested,” says Feinberg. A year later, Newman told Feinberg that her molecular evidence strongly supported his hunch.
In all, nine researchers contributed to the project. In 2012, Newman, Feinberg and others authored an initial article in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution suggesting a new species had been discovered. But it needed to be formally described. Describing the new species involved three lines of evidence.
One line was molecular – showing it was a genetically distinct species. Many tissue samples for that work, which was largely covered in the 2012 paper, were gathered at Great Swamp Refuge. The second line of evidence was bio-acoustical – comparing mating calls of the new species to other known species. Feinberg used the call to identify the new frog at, among other places, Wallkill River Refuge on the New Jersey/New York border. “It was crystal clear that they were everywhere, a massive population,” he says. “I think, to date, Wallkill has the most impressive chorus I’ve ever heard.”
The third line of evidence was morphology – physical characteristics and shape. The new species is a cryptic species (basically, a look-a-like). Still, there are differences. The Atlantic Coast leopard frog has a smaller, fainter white spot on its eardrum than the southern leopard frog does, and a wider body and stouter head, too.
Feinberg credits refuge biologist Colin Osborn, Great Swamp Refuge deputy manager Steve Henry and Wallkill River Refuge manager Mike Horne with wonderful cooperation. For Feinberg, the discovery’s locale makes it extra-special:
“As a guy who grew up in New York reading about the new Florida this species or the California that species, I always said, ‘Boy, how come there’s nothing ever from New York?’ So to be able to find a frog not only in the U.S. but to formally describe it from New York, and not just from New York, but in the five boroughs of New York City, was a real treat.”
CAPTION: With the help of several collaborators and two national wildlife refuges, Jeremy Feinberg discovered this new frog species – the Atlantic Coast leopard frog – in New York City. (Jeremy Feinberg)
Two Programs Epitomize the Concept of Working Beyond the Borders of National Wildlife Refuges
Two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs -- the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and the Coastal Program -- exemplify the concept of working beyond the boundaries of national wildlife refuges, joining partners to conserve and restore ecosystems on a landscape scale. Working with more than 45,000 private landowners and 3,000 conservation partners since its founding 1987, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has restored more than a million acres of wetland habitat; 3 million acres of upland habitat and 11,000 miles of streams on private lands, a lot of it near and in conjunction with refuges.
“We have 225 Partners staff biologists in the field all over the country, and they’re in their trucks with shovels and leaning across fences with farmers and ranchers every day” helping to repair wetlands and streams, remove fish barriers, aid fish passage and even set up grazing systems, says John Schmerfeld, chief of the Refuge System Branch of Habitat Restoration. “It’s really an amazing program that has had incredible conservation success over the past 28 years.”
Coastal Program staff members in 24 priority coastal areas develop long-term partnerships on both private and public property to deliver landscape-scale conservation. Through the Coastal Program, the Service has restored approximately 517,670 acres of wetland and upland habitat, more than 2,220 miles of stream habitat, and helped permanently protect 2,079,655 acres since 1985. In 2014, the Service leveraged $22 for every $1 the Coastal Program project spent.
“The Refuge System is heavily invested in coastal areas,” says Schmerfeld. “They are superimportant both for the human element and for wildlife.” He cites two facts: More than 170 refuges are coastal; and while coastal counties make up only 10 percent of the lower 48 states’ land mass, they are home to more than half of the states’ population.
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, established in 1987, is a diversified habitat restoration program that provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and tribes who are willing to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners to help meet the habitat needs of federal trust fish, wildlife and plant species. Locally-based field biologists work one-on-one with private landowners to plan, implement and monitor projects. This level of personal attention and follow-through is a significant strength of the program. More about the program: www.fws.gov/partners/aboutus.html
The Coastal Program is one of the Service’s most effective tools for delivering fish and wildlife habitat restoration and protection on public and privately owned lands. Coastal Program staff members are located in 24 priority coastal areas, including the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes and Caribbean. These locally-based personnel know the community, its natural resources, environmental challenges, potential partners and political and economic issues. This knowledge enables the Service to develop long-term partnerships to deliver strategic habitat conservation. More about Coastal program: http://www.fws.gov/coastal/
For more stories like this, visit: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/newswire/index.html
Saturday, March 28, 9am-noon, meet near the VIS
Volunteers planting trees along Willows Trail
A volunteer workday is scheduled for Saturday, March 28. Volunteers will be helping doing some landscaping and "spring cleaning" around the Butterfly Garden and VIS. Lunch will be provided to all volunteers. Click here for more details and RSVP information.
Nature and Bird Walks in March at Anahuac NWR
Fridays in March
10am at Shoveler Pond on the Refuge
2pm at the Lake Anahuac Boardwalk behind the Visitor Center
Lake Anahuac boardwalk
Visit the Refuge on Fridays in March for guided walks at Shoveler Pond and the Lake Anahuac Boardwalk. The Shoveler Pond walk/bird viewing will take place at the Shoveler Pond boardwalk at 10am. The walk along the Lake Anahuac Boardwalk will begin at 2pm from the Visitor Center.
FOAR Member Appreciation Event
Saturday, April 18, 2015, 2pm - 8pm
FOAR will be hosting an appreciation/mixer event on Saturday, April 18, 2015 from 2pm-8pm. It is to show our gratitude for your support and a chance for you to meet other members, the FOAR board, and refuge staff. The event is BYOB, but refreshments will be provided. Visit the event page for more details. Make plans to attend!
Click here for event details.
Spring Newsletter Coming Soon
Watch for our full Gator Tales newsletter in your inbox or mailbox!
Check out previous issues here.
Spring Rail Walks Scheduled in April
King/Clapper Rail hybrid at Anahuac NWR, Norman Welsh
Spring Rail walks at Anahuac NWR are scheduled in April. Participants could see or hear as many as SIX different species of rail during a walk including King, Clapper, Virginia, Yellow, Sora, and the elusive Black Rail. Meet at the VIS at 7am the day of the walk for a briefing to arrange carpools to drive to the walk location on the refuge.
Check out our Rail Walks page for more details.
Saturday, April 11 at 7am
Saturday, April 25 at 7am
National Wildlife Refuge System News
Campaign to Save Beleaguered Monarch Butterfly
Monarch butterflies at Anahuac NWR, Joe Blackburn
The USFWS is addressing the drastically dwindling numbers of monarch butterflies. Their numbers have been cut by 90% in recent years due to loss of habitat across the country. Read how the issue is being addressed at refuges across the country, including Anahuac NWR. Click here for the article.
Buy a book about the refuge...to support the refuge!
The 50th anniversary books are for sale at the Visitor Center and the Visitor Information Station as well as online. The book tells the story of the Anahuac NWR's 50th year through photographs and essays from volunteers. Visit the book project page.
Don't forget to renew your membership!
Renew online via PayPal or by check in the mail. When renewing, we also encourage you to receive our full quarterly Gator Tales newsletter electronically. It saves trees, saves us printing costs, and gets you access to more content. Click here to join or renew.
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
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!
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