Thursday, May 29, 2008

OHIO: Ravens Return

Recently, Aaron Boone – program manager for the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas – shared the discovery of nesting common ravens in eastern Ohio with a Division of Wildlife videographer. The ravens seen in the video below are the young that fledged from the Jefferson County nest in Fernwood State Forest earlier in April. Observers should be on the look out for other ravens in this region.

Common ravens had not nested in Ohio for more than 100 years. Large-scale habitat changes such as loss of mature forests from development drove the large, glossy-feathered birds to wilder, less developed portions of their ranges. By 1900, ravens no longer could be found in the Buckeye State.

This fascinating member of the crow family has been reclaiming former breeding grounds in recent years, as forests in Ohio and elsewhere have expanded, becoming better raven habitat. Forested land in Ohio has grown from 15 percent in 1940 to more than 30 percent today. Other long-absent species have found the state’s improving habitat a reason to come home, including bobcat and black bear.
Source: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Southwest Alaska Salmon Habitat Partnership Adopted as Sixth Regional FHP

The National Fish Habitat Action Plan Board welcomes the Southwest Alaska Salmon Habitat Partnership (SWASHP) as the sixth regional Fish Habitat Partnership under the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.

To date, the SWASHP has conserved 79,000 acres of high value salmon habitat in 65 tracts through acquisition and easement across Southwest Alaska. It also has raised more than $30 million for conservation action.

> Read more about the Southwest Alaska Salmon Habitat Partnership

> Learn more about the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and how it is helping to treat the causes of aquatic habitat decline and fix the nation’s most pressing fisheries problems.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hepler appointed new chair of National Fish Habitat Board

(Washington, DC) – The National Fish Habitat Action Plan Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Kelly Hepler (Alaska, Department of Fish & Game) as chairman of the Board. Hepler was introduced at the National Fish Habitat Action Plan Board meeting on May 14th at The Nature Conservancy. Hepler replaces John Cooper, who is leaving the post to retire. Hepler becomes the second chairman elected to the board, since Cooper was appointed chairman when the board was formed in October 2006. Hepler was formerly the board vice-chair before accepting the appointment.

Prior to joining the board, Hepler had been appointed to a number of national committees by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Through his participation on these committees, Hepler has assisted in the development of a strategic plan for the USFWS's fishery program; participated in a review of the federal aid program; and examined national fisheries and water resource policy issues.

Within Alaska, Hepler's leadership has resulted in the first-ever strategic plan for ADF&G's Division of Sport Fish, and a statewide trout management plan and policy to assure that Alaska's trout stocks will continue to provide benefits for future generations. Hepler also played an integral role in absorbing habitat functions into Division of Sport Fish after Executive Order 107, which transferred statutory responsibilities for habitat management and permitting under the Anadromous Fish Act from ADF&G to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources' Office of Habitat Management and Permitting.

Hepler brings 29 years of experience with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game to the Board chair position and a life-long commitment to natural resource conservation.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

2008 NCLI Fellow Application Deadline Approaching

May 31, 2008 is the deadline for submitting an application for the National Conservation Leadership Institute (NCLI) Cohort beginning in September 2008. Applicants must be nominated by their organization's chief executive. Individuals from state fish and wildlife agencies, federal conservation agency employees, tribal members, industry employees and NGO agency employees are encouraged to apply.

The NCLI was created to train tomorrow’s conservation leaders in the latest leadership thinking and practice, and each Fellow will focus on a variety of issues, including a specific leadership challenge from each participant’s own agency or organization. Becoming an NCLI Fellow is a major step in career advancement and contributing to the future of conservation. The NCLI is suited for the highest-potential, future leaders.

>Learn more about becoming an NCLI Fellow including application and nomination requirements, tuition costs and scholarship opportunities.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Farm Bill Seeds On-the-ground Conservation Benefits for Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat

Four billion dollar increase in conservation spending for critical new and renewed programs will enhance states’ ability to manage public trust resources

WASHINGTON, DC -- A four billion dollar increase in funding for programs that maintain and advance conservation of vital fish and wildlife habitat passed today as part of the 2007 Farm Bill Conference Report by an 81-15 vote in the Senate and a 318-106 vote in the House yesterday. Pay-as-you-go rules, a declining Congressional baseline budget and a promised Presidential veto have threatened the report’s passage before both chambers came to an agreement this week. The votes are sufficient to override a veto.

“While 70 percent of U.S. land is privately owned, all fish and wildlife is held in the public trust,” said Corky Pugh, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) and Director of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. “Landowners work in partnership with state fish and wildlife agencies to undertake wildlife-friendly habitat management on their properties. The Farm Bill delivers important funding that enables these tremendous opportunities for on-the-ground conservation.”

Provisions in the bill renew the Wetland Reserve Program, an easement process for landowners to retire and restore drained wetlands; the Grassland Reserve Program to protect native grasslands; and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program to address priority fish and wildlife concerns within states such as early successional dependent species like the woodcock in Northeast states or critical salmon habitat in the Pacific Northwest.The bill significantly ramps up the funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the new Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The EQIP provision has specific language mentioning wildlife, while both programs contain language directing the Secretary of Agriculture to consider national, regional and state conservation priorities.

“This is great news for national wildlife conservation initiatives like the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative,” said Dan Forster, Vice-Chair of AFWA’s committee on Agriculture Conservation, and Director, Georgia’s Division of Wildlife.

The 2007 Farm Bill also introduces the new “Open Fields” Programs. Open Fields expands upon USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program to assist states with voluntary programs providing public access to private lands for fishing, hunting and other wildlife-related recreation. The Farm Bill further provides new federal tax deductions for landowners who make efforts to protect endangered species, as well as extending federal tax deductions to individuals who donate easements on their land for conservation purposes.

In addition to the conservation and environmental gains, the economic results derived from increased hunting, fishing and outdoor recreational opportunities are particularly important to rural agricultural families and communities. Hunters and anglers nationwide are a $76 billion market force.

“While the bill did not include all the things for conservation we had worked for, like a strong Sodsaver provision, we applaud Congress for passing this critically important bill and look forward to working with our partners in USDA to deliver these new conservation programs across all 50 states,” said Jennifer Mock Schaeffer, Agriculture Conservation Policy Analyst, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “When fish and wildlife benefit from improved habitats, all Americans benefit from the healthier environment, improved quality of life and benefits to the economy.”

The Farm Bill is reauthorized every five years to support American producers, ensure consumers an abundance of food and fiber at reasonable prices and provide various conservation opportunities for farmers, ranchers and landowners. It is the single largest federal investment in conservation on private land, covering more than half of the landscape of the lower 48 states.

Press release: Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

Thursday, May 15, 2008

GEORGIA: First Loggerhead Nest of 2008 Found

Loggerhead turtles have returned to Georgia’s beaches. Members of the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative found the state’s first loggerhead nest of 2008 last week on Blackbeard Island, signaling the start of nesting season for the federally threatened species.

2008 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Sea Turtle Cooperative, a milestone for sea turtle conservation. Coordinated by the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the group of volunteers, researchers and biologists from various agencies monitor turtle nesting on Georgia beaches.

Loggerhead nesting numbers vary widely from year to year. The 2007 total of 689 loggerhead nests, down from 1,400 in 2006, was considered a below-average nesting year. The 2006 nest totals were the third highest since Wildlife Resources established comprehensive surveys in 1989, with 1,419 nests found in 1999 and 1,504 nests in 2003. The annual average in Georgia since 1989 has been roughly 1,045 nests.

Listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, the loggerhead (Caretta caretta) is Georgia’s primary nesting sea turtle. In 1994, the Georgia Loggerhead Recovery and Habitat Protection Plan was adopted to standardize nest management procedures for the state. The long-term recovery goal for the species is an average of 2,000 loggerhead nests per year over a 25-year period.

Wildlife Resources and conservation groups have worked to address the fishery threat by enforcing regulations that require shrimpers to use turtle excluder devices –grids that fit across the opening of shrimp trawls to keep turtles from entering the nets.

Organizations and agencies that team with Wildlife Resources for the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative include Caretta Research Project, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia Sea Turtle Center, The Lodge at Little St. Simons Island, Little Cumberland Island Homeowners Association, Sea Island Co., St. Catherines Island Foundation, St. Simons Island Sea Turtle Project, Tybee Island Marine Science Center, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Savannah Coastal Refuges.

Source: Georgia Wildlife Resources

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wildlife Action Plans Success Stories Report: Download It!

Across the country, fish and wildlife agencies and their partners are turning the ambitious conservation vision of the state wildlife action plans into on-the-ground action. This nationwide effort to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered is resulting in new partnerships, innovative conservation work, and cost-effective projects in every state.

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and Teaming with Wildlife have recently completed "State Wildlife Action Plans -- From Vision To On-The-Ground Action." This 115-page report exemplifies how state fish and wildlife agencies are implementing their plans using State Wildlife Grants and other funds.

The report is available as both a full 115-page pdf download as well as individual state-by-state summaries. Limited hard copies of the report are available for purchase at $1.50 per copy or $25 for a box of 24 reports to cover the costs of shipping. For more information, email

Friday, May 9, 2008

CALIFORNIA/NEVADA: Boat Inspections to Help Fight Mussels Threat in Lake Tahoe

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the Nevada Wildlife Department are expanding their efforts to protect Lake Tahoe from invading quagga and zebra mussels by conducting random boat inspections beginning May 16.

Quagga mussels were discovered last year in Nevada's Lake Mead and Lake Mohave as well as California's Lake Havasu and the Colorado River drainage. Zebra mussels were found in the San Justo Resevoir, southeast of San Francisco. Officials hope spot inspections at public boat-launching sites will help to prevent the spread that could occur when boats change waters, bringing mussels with them.

In addition, the California DFG is stationing two dogs trained to smell the mussels in the Tahoe area. The dogs will be used where contamination is suspected.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

CITES 23rd Animals Committee Meeting Report Available

The 23rd meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) met from April 19-23, 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland. On April 19, a joint session was held with the 17th Plants Committee.

The Animls Committee discussed 21 agenda items including: the review of significant trade in Appendix II species; production systems for specimens of CITES-listed species; conservation and management of sharks; the periodic review of animal species included in the Convention's appendices; and a proposal to transfer the Mexican population of Crocodylus moreletii from Appendix I to Appendix II.

Read more about the 23rd Animals Committee>

Learn more about the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies International Relations Program>

Visit the CITES Web site>

Friday, May 2, 2008

WMI 2008 George Bird Grinnell Memorial and Presidents Award Recipients

During the 73rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference held last month in Phoenix, Arizona, the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) honored one of the longest-serving leaders of a state conservation organization in U.S. history, Gary T. Myers, with the 2008 George Bird Grinnell Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Natural Resource Conservation. The Grinnell Award salutes a person whose career has been exemplified by integrity, leadership, foresight and achievement and has invariably made decisions in the interest of progressive resource management.

"Gary has been doing just that for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the citizens and natural resources of Tennessee for more than 30 years," said Steve Williams, WMI President. "As remarkable as the length of Gary’s tenure as executive director for the Tennessee agency is the leadership he has shown for progressive conservation throughout North America."

Myers many credits include serving a key role in the annual expansion of Dingell-Johnson funds; direct involvement in the national and international implementation of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan; and securing funds for the first waterfowl joint venture. Myers has served on the North American Wetlands Conservation Council; been actively involved with the North American Bird Conservation Initiative; and is a staunch supporter of the Southeastern Aquatic Resources Partnership Initiative. He is former president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

WMI also recognized Bob Carmichael as the recipient of the Institute’s 2008 Presidents Award. The WMI Presidents Award recognizes ingenuity, tenacity and accomplishment in the interest of advancing natural resource management and stewardship, in the tradition of WMI’s former presidents.Carmichael is a wildlife biologist with a career spanning six decades. He began as a field worker, recently retiring after more than 20 years as a wildlife agency administrator. Among the most distinguishing qualities of the recipient," said Williams, have been Bob’s "undaunted willingness to take on some of the most onerous and sensitive issues facing natural resource management and his remarkable ability to deal with them effectively."During Carmichael’s tenure with the Manitoba Wildlife Branch, from 1974 to 2005, including in the capacities as Chief of Commercial Wildlife Management and as Chief of Game, Fur and Problem Wildlife Management, he tackled humane-trapping protocols, animal rights issues, agriculture-wildlife conflicts, aboriginal interests and interprovincial relations, among others. He also advocated for cooperative Canadian-U.S. wildlife policies, practices and science-based conservation. Currently residing in Keewatin, Ontario, Carmichael now serves as Senior Advisor of Operations and International Programs for the Delta Waterfowl Foundation.

For more information, visit

Thursday, May 1, 2008

RBFF Re-launches Take Me Fishing Campaign

With a new look and feel and state-of-the-art web site, RBFF has re-launched its Take Me Fishing campaign to encourage greater participation in boating and fishing. The campaign blends the picturesque beauty of nature, the excitement of the sport (boating especially) and the idea of memories all into a single image, punctuated with playful headlines that infuse an element of fun into every treatment.

The centerpiece of the Take Me Fishing campaign is the new Web site. Whether it's planning a trip, buying a fishing license, designing a dream boat, or checking out the latest equipment, will be the most comprehensive boating and fishing online destination available. It also blends in to increase awareness of the program aimed at boaters and anglers of all ages and experience levels. A social network component will be added this summer. Exciting features include:

Boat Selection Tool: find the best boat to fit your lifestyle, links to manufacturers and free Get Started in Boating DVD request.
Fishopedia: get the A - Z of fishing including info about specific fish, where they live, and how to catch them.
Hot Spots: search more than 12,000 locations for boating and fishing and learn how to get to each spot with Google mapping and contact info. In the future, registered members will be able to add, rate, and review locations.
Little Lunkers: check out the fun games for young fishing enthusiasts like the Fish Memory Game and Fish Hangman. Kids also can post pictures of their proud catches.
State Pages: access to local fishing and boating information such as links to where to buy a license, where to boat and fish, local events, and conservation efforts.

RBFF plans to advertise nationally and regionally to include regional radio and more online and print advertising. For the first time, RBFF is also conducting simultaneous direct mail marketing in 30 states to help sell fishing licenses, integrating PR efforts to support the campaign, and extending its media buy to a 12-month period.

Take Me Fishing materials are FREE to stakeholders who want to be part of the action. New Take Me Fishing logo and guidelines are available now on RBFF’s stakeholder Web site. An Event Planning Kit for aquatic educators and communities to plan boating and fishing events is coming soon. In June, RBFF will release customizable marketing materials to help stakeholders promote boating and fishing featuring the new creative application and a “wood grain” background and icons for boating, fishing, family, and conservation.

RBFF will send announcements when these materials are available or check for updates.