FRIENDS OF ANAHUAC REFUGE
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 email@example.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Refuge Rangers Fight Myths about Creepy Crawlies and Other Wildlife
It’s not just snakes. Other wild creatures inspire exaggerated fears, too: bats; spiders; birds; fish – yes, fish.
In the course of greeting tens of thousands of visitors a year, rangers on national wildlife refuges bump up against many such bugbears. They know which natural–world denizens invariably make some people flinch or go ewww.
One thing they’ve noticed: Whether it’s because today’s visitors tend to live more indoor lives than past generations or watch too many TV survival shows, fears of nature are flourishing -- in all ages.
“We’re seeing more kids sheltered and afraid,” says Ashley Inslee, a biologist at Bosque del Apache Refuge in New Mexico. “Even college kids interested in conservation haven’t been out hunting, fishing, hiking. They’ve seen TV shows or National Geographic and think being outdoors is cool, but it can be uncomfortable at first.”
Different tactics are called for at Florida’s J.N. “Ding” Darling Refuge, where gators are star attractions. “There should be a natural fear we have of them, and they of us; it’s a good thing to be fearful of a large predator like an alligator,” says supervisory refuge ranger Toni Westland. But she puts visitors’ fears in perspective. “We tell them we’re not going to have alligators jumping out of bushes. It’s safe. But it’s only safe because we respect wild animals and don’t feed them.”
Some visitors want to beat back old fears. Mary Stumpp signed on this winter as a volunteer at crane-filled Bosque del Apache Refuge undefined an odd choice for someone with a lifelong fear of birds. Her task: using a tractor to mow corn for feeding sandhill cranes. Slowly, she grew accustomed to seeing flocks overhead. Writes Stumpp, “I began to see the cranes not as a threat but as beautiful creatures. To my surprise, I began to care about them…”
To help anxious visitors, refuge staffers share some proven tactics:
Admit fears of their own. Visitors may be surprised to hear refuge staffers aren’t all fearless. Bosque del Apache Refuge’s deputy manager Aaron Mize owns up to a fear of heights and snakes.
Find out what they know. At Patuxent Refuge, staff meets students on familiar turf before a refuge visit, and throws softball questions: “Do you spend any time outside? What’s your favorite animal?” Staff also invites students to confide fears in writing so they are not embarrassed in front of classmates.
Don’t dissemble. To a child nervous about snakes, you might try: ‘There are snakes here, but we almost never see any. That’s because they’re shy, and they can feel the ground tremble, and they go and hide when they hear people coming.’
Educate about feeding a wild animal. Remind people that wildlife loses their fear of humans if regularly fed by visitors. And tell them never to challenge wildlife.
Let kids adjust at their own pace. Let young people decide if they want to touch a live frog or snake. Respect youngsters’ rights to say “no”. Some refuge staff appoint an anxious young visitor to become their assistant for a day.
Show enthusiasm. Students see that you’re not afraid and they respond. When a youngster sees salamanders and turtles and responds, ‘Oh gross,’ that’s your chance to say, ‘No, they’re so cool,” and explain why.
These kids at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, AZ, are none too sure that they want to get near that snake, harmless as it is. Photo by Andrea Brophy.
For more stories like this, visit: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/newswire/
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