Thursday, April 30, 2009

National Fish Habitat Action Plan Unveils 10 "waters to Watch" in 2009

The National Fish Habitat Action Plan today unveiled the 2009 10 "Waters to Watch” list, a collection of rivers, streams, lakes, watershed systems and shores that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore or enhance their current condition. These waters represent a snapshot of current conservation efforts that the Action Plan is undertaking to provide cleaner and healthier habitats for the many fish and wildlife species and people who call these areas home.

Thanks to the combined actions of concerned community groups, non-profit organizations, local watershed groups, Native American tribes and state and federal agencies, these waters are being improved by planting stream-side vegetation, removing structures blocking fish from habitat and protecting bodies of water from the effects of industrial processes, agriculture and livestock.

The 10 “Waters to Watch” are representative of freshwater to marine waters across the country including lakes and reservoirs that are improving through the conservation efforts of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan—a bold initiative to reverse persistent declines in aquatic habitat.

The Action Plan’s 10 “Waters to Watch” Initiative was first unveiled in 2007 through its Fish Habitat Partnerships. Since 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided $5.8 million to support 136 on-the-ground projects in 35 states, leveraging $15.1 million in partner match, to address the priorities of the Fish Habitat Partnerships, along with funding from several other state and federal agencies and NGO’s.

“Our approach—teaming federal, state and local partners—is helping to bring these waters back to life in most cases…in a faster more strategic way,” said Kelly Hepler, Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. “By watching these 10 models of our nation’s aquatic conservation efforts, we can see real progress in treating the causes of fish habitat decline, not just the symptoms. These specific projects display on the ground work that can be held high as a vision of what quality habitat should be, which affects all people throughout the United States.”

The 10 Waters to Watch in 2009 include:

Agulowak River, Alaska - The Agulowak River is one of the salmon rich jewels of Southwest Alaska. The river provides a robust fishery for sport anglers, subsistence and commercial users. The Conservation Fund and the Nushagak-Mulchatna / Wood-Tikchik Land Trust working together have secured a conservation easement with the major Native corporation landowner on its land within the Wood-Tikchik State Park, including both banks of the Agulowak River and approximately 39 miles of shoreline along Lakes Aleknagik and Nerka—a total of about 20,850 acres of land with high fish and wildlife values.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park, North Carolina - Restoring coastal marsh habitat and protecting shorelines from erosion are the goals of this project in the Outer Banks, one of the nation’s most famous coastal habitats. Oyster reef creation and native cordgrass plantings are already underway.

Lake Houston, Texas – Restoring native aquatic vegetation and reducing sedimentation will improve fish habitat for the entire watershed both upstream and downstream of Lake Houston, as well as within the reservoir, which is an important lifeline both economically and recreationally to the people of Houston.

Lower Flint River, Georgia – Cool water flowing from springs in the Flint River provides critical thermal refuge habitat for Gulf Striped Bass during the warm summer months. Sediment and debris clogs the springs, reducing flow and reducing fish habitat. This project will clean out the springs and enhance flows to provide more habitat for more fish.

Maggie Creek, Nevada – Improvement in agricultural and mining practices is helping to restore habitat in this Humboldt River tributary, helping Lohontan Cutthroat Trout, a federally listed threatened species.

Meramec Watershed Basin, Missouri – This unique project teams agricultural landowners, state and federal agencies, and NGOs to identify shared goals that balance fish habitat with farming needs in the watershed by instilling stream friendly farming practices which ultimately improve fish habitat."

Pine Creek, Wisconsin - Restoring stream banks which reduce sedimentation deposits will ultimately benefit this mid-Western fishery, enhancing a declining population of Eastern Brook Trout.

South Fork Little Conemaugh River, Pennsylvania – Historic acid mine drainage will be mitigated through limestone beds and limestone dosing to resurrect this four mile stretch of Pennsylvania brook trout waters, increasing population in this critical tributary.
Teton Creek, Idaho – Restoring stream channels and eroding stream banks will help reduce sedimentation throughout this Western tributary, the largest of the Teton River, to provide pristine habitat to Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.

Whitethorn Creek, West Virginia – Riparian restoration and natural stream channel will decrease temperatures and provide cover and holding habitat in this critical wild brook trout system located in the headwaters of the South Branch of the Potomac.

“Whether you measure the effect of these 10 success stories in feet or miles of fish and wildlife habitat conserved, these kinds of concerted actions are what it is going to take to get our nation’s waters back into shape,” said Hepler. “We believe the Waters recognized today will be the impetus for thousands of projects accomplished in the future.”

The National Fish Habitat Action Plan is built on a framework of National Fish Habitat Partnerships. These regional-scale efforts include the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, the Western Native Trout Initiative, the Driftless Area Restoration Effort, the Matanuska-Susitna Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership, the Southwest Alaska Salmon Habitat Partnership, the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership, the Desert Fish Habitat Partnership and the Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership. There are also 11 “Candidate” Fish Habitat Partnerships that have stated their intent to apply for full NFHAP Board recognition. The Action Plan calls for the creation of at least 12 Fish Habitat Partnerships by 2010 to help identify the causes of habitat declines and implement corrective initiatives for aquatic conservation and restoration.

Since its launch three years ago, the Action Plan has received wide public support. To date nearly 1,000 partners have pledged their support including a range of organizations interested in the health of the nation’s fisheries such as fishing clubs, international conservation organizations, federal agencies, angling industries and academia. Complete information on the scope of the plan is available at

The Action Plan is complemented by the “More Fish” campaign administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which is taking the lead in raising funds for these and other projects under the Action Plan. Information about the campaign can be found at

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

$3.6 Million Awarded to Help States Safeguard Nature in an Era of Climate Change

Grant will enable state fish and wildlife agencies in updating
and implementing their wildlife action plans

NEW YORK —The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) announced last week grants totaling nearly $3.6 million over four years to help states account for climate change in their wildlife action plans. The grants were awarded to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

“The challenge that climate change poses to the natural places that people, plants and animals need to survive is something that must be brought into our planning processes,” said Dr. Mark Shaffer, director of DDCF’s Environment Program. “The good news is that in every state, officials already have worked with scientists, conservationists, sportsmen and other concerned citizens to develop what are known as wildlife action plans, so we can focus our efforts on updating these plans to account for climate change, and implementing these plans on an accelerated timeline, rather than starting from scratch.”

“Wildlife action plans have proven to be an effective way for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and interested individuals to find and focus on a state’s highest conservation priorities, ensuring that we get the most out of every conservation dollar spent,” said Matt Hogan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. In addition to representing state fish and wildlife agencies, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies leads Teaming With Wildlife, the national conservation coalition of 6,000 organizations that support the full implementation of the state wildlife action plans to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered.

State wildlife action plans were first conceived in 2000, when Congress mandated that each state develop a comprehensive strategy for conserving its wildlife. The states submitted their plans to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the fall of 2005, and they were all approved by February of 2007. In developing these plans, state wildlife agencies identified species and habitats in greatest need of conservation attention. Additional information about the wildlife action plans can be found at

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies will receive a DDCF grant of $800,000 over four years in support of a set of activities aimed both at updating the action plans to account for climate change and advancing the implementation of the action plans on the ground. Specific activities will include developing guidance to help states incorporate climate change into their action plans, facilitating nationally coordinated conservation of at-risk amphibians and reptiles, and developing national effectiveness measures related to the implementation of the plans.

Defenders of Wildlife will use its $1.2 million grant to assist states in developing strategies to address the impacts of climate change with a special focus on the issue of corridors and connectivity including the development of a synthesis guide to mapping priority areas in the context of wildlife plans and conducting workshops examining the ways in which the state wildlife action plans can assist in transportation planning.

With a grant of $1.2 million, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) will assist agencies in pilot states ( NY, NC, OR, VA and WA) with vulnerability assessments, identify and promote best practices in planning for climate change, and track progress in implementing those practices. NWF also will work with Teaming With Wildlife coalitions.

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) will receive a grant of approximately $400,000 to create a multimedia public communications campaign to inform sportsmen of the effects of climate change on fish and wildlife, and inspire additional support for integrating and implementing climate change strategies as part of the state wildlife action plans.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Teaming With Wildlife 2.0

Teaming With Wildlife has gone 2.0!

Join us on Facebook at You can find this link on the Teaming With Wildlife Homepage at

TWW is also blogging away to help spread the word in gaining support funding dedicated to fish and wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation and conservation education in every state.
You can find the blog at and under the Newsroom Section on the TWW website.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Interior Secretary Salazar Awards More Than $300,000 to Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

On April 24, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced an award of $319,833 for a national multistate grant, led and coordinated by the Missouri Department of Conservation, for amphibian and reptile conservation and management throughout the continental United States. The federal funding, which is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grants Program, will be matched by $145,585 in non-Federal funds provided by State wildlife agencies and their partners.

The grant is part of nearly $9 million in SWG Competitive Program funds awarded to 12state wildlife agencies across the country to help imperiled fish, wildlife and plant species.

“The projects funded by these grants target some of the most imperiled species and habitats in the United States. They’re also among the most effective, because they are tied to well thought-out conservation plans that identify the highest priorities in each state – as well as the areas where we can make the biggest difference for imperiled species,” said Salazar.

Led by the Missouri Department of Conservation, this project will evaluate amphibian and reptile species of concern for vulnerabilities to climate change, priority habitats, and monitoring needs; and will provide capacity building opportunities for state wildlife agencies with respect to amphibians and reptiles. The project includes partners from 14 states and represents a national cooperative effort to address amphibian and reptile conservation needs.

“There are still so many gaps in our knowledge of amphibians and reptiles,” said Priya Nanjappa, Amphibian and Reptile Coordinator for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “This grant will help provide the basic tools and resources necessary at a national scale, which will assist management of these species at a local scale.”

The SWG Competitive Program awards grants to projects that implement strategies and actions to conserve imperiled species contained in approved State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plans (also known as State Wildlife Action Plans). Grants are scored using criteria developed by a team of Service and state wildlife agency directors. Funding for the grants comes from Fiscal Year 2008 and 2009 appropriations for the SWG Competitive Program.

All 56 states and territorial wildlife agencies have approved State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plans, which collectively provide a nationwide blueprint for actions to conserve imperiled species. The Plans were created through a collaborative effort among state and federal agencies, biologists, conservationists, landowners, sportsmen and the general public. Each Plan was then reviewed and approved by a national team that included members from the USFWA and directors from state fish and wildlife agencies.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Second Annual National Fish Habitat Award Winners Announced

A group of the nation’s leading authorities on aquatic conservation, the National Fish Habitat Board, will honor two exceptional organizations and two individual champions in aquatic resource conservation at the Second Annual National Fish Habitat Awards ceremony on April 27, 2009 at the Jim Range National Casting Call hosted by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association.

From nominations submitted by the hundreds of organizations that comprise the National Fish Habitat Partners Coalition, the awardees demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to fish habitat conservation, science and education. They are leading by example to help resolve the nation’s most significant fisheries problems.

For 2009, the selection committee added an additional award category, Extraordinary Action category in support of fish habitat, bringing the total number of awards to four. Also, in honor of the recently passed Jim Range, who tragically lost his battle with cancer, the selection committee has re-named the Exceptional Vision Award in Jim’s honor. The award will now be the Jim Range Conservation Vision Award.

“Renaming the Award in honor of Jim, is just a small token to honor all that he has done in Washington to support fish and wildlife conservation. The Board found it fitting to rename the award and there is no better venue to honor Jim than Casting Call.” said Kelly Hepler, National Fish Habitat Board Chairman. “Jim was a true pioneer for conservation and was a true visionary when it came to fish and wildlife related issues.”

The Winners of the 2009 National Fish Habitat Awards are as follows:

Outreach and Education Award: The Lake Leaders Institute, University of Wisconsin-Extension Lakes
The goal of the Wisconsin Lake Leaders Institute is to enhance Wisconsin’s lake resources through education, leadership and citizen action. The Institute assists citizens in developing and improving both their technical and people skills, to enrich their communities and the waters within them. Participants learn in an atmosphere of openness, trust, friendship and camaraderie.

Lake Leaders Institute courses give participants the opportunity to take field trips, enjoy natural beauty, exchange and forge ideas, and develop friendships. More than 200 Lake Leaders Institute graduates have made a personal commitment to engage others in their community to ensure our water resources are preserved for future generations.

The University of Wisconsin-Extension (UWEX) Lakes is part of the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. UWEX Lakes (education) works with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (science) and the Wisconsin Association of Lakes (citizens) to form the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership.

Scientific Achievement Award: Stephen J. Jordan, Lisa M. Smith, Janet A. Nestlerode, Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Research and Development
The team of Jordan, Smith and Nestlerode, have broken new ground in quantifying the value of nursery habitats to a major fishery and ecological resource. In their research article (Cumulative Effects of Habitat Alterations on Fishery Resources: Prediction at Regional Scales) published in Ecology and Society, they have modeled how the detailed spatial extent and distribution of marsh and submerged aquatic vegetation affect blue crab recruitment at the scale of the US Gulf of Mexico, and shown how the model can be used to predict the effects of habitat alteration on the fishery. The novel modeling concepts applied to this research can be used more widely in quantitative analysis of the consequences of fish habitat loss and restoration at spatial and temporal scales.

Article Link:(Cumulative Effects of Habitat Alterations on Fishery Resources: Prediction at Regional Scales)

Jim Range Conservation Vision Award: Yvon Chouinard
Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia's founder, started Patagonia in 1973 to meet the equipment and clothing needs of outdoor enthusiasts, primarily rock climbers, hikers and anglers. From the very beginning, Patagonia devoted time and money to the increasingly apparent national and world-wide environmental crisis. Yvon saw what was happening in the remote corners of the world: creeping pollution and deforestation, the slow, then not so slow, disappearance of fish and wildlife and decided to do something about it. Since then, Patagonia never looked back.

Yvon had the foresight and commitment to have Patagonia become a leader in giving back to natural resources to ensure their future viability and stability. In 1986, Patagonia began a program that makes it unique among corporate entities that care about fisheries habitat. Patagonia committed to donate 10% of profits each year to grassroots environmental groups.
The company later upped the ante to 1% of sales or 10% of profits, whichever was greater.

Patagonia has kept to that commitment every year since and placed a high emphasis on fishery habitat protection over the years as evidenced by the starting of the World Trout Initiative to specifically address trout habitats and populations; the 1% For the Planet program that supports local grassroots projects which include fishery habitat projects; and the Conservation Alliance – a program that enlists other funding sources to participate in wildlife and fisheries habitat projects.

Extraordinary Action Award: Project SHARE
Project SHARE (Salmon Habitat and River Enhancement), a 501(c)3 organization, was created in 1994 through the efforts of concerned landowners, salmon anglers, businesses and various government agencies, to establish a forum to protect and enhance Atlantic salmon habitat in the five Downeast rivers of Maine.

SHARE's mission is to conserve and protect Atlantic salmon habitat in the Dennys, Machias, East Machias, Pleasant and Narraguagus rivers. This is based on the premise of voluntary participation by area landowners, businesses, as well as local, state and federal government, academia, conservation organizations, research and educational interests and any other entity that will enhance the healthy functioning of these riverine ecosystems. Since 2006, Steve Koenig, Project SHARE Executive Director, has completed 22 USDA NRCS/WHIP projects that contributed $930,000 for stream habitat connectivity projects in Downeast Maine. The more impressive figure is the 19 additional WHIP (additional $1,000,000) projects currently under contract.

Combining landowner and other contributions to Project SHARE’s WHIP projects, these 41 stream restoration projects equate to nearly $2.6 million in on-the-ground conservation efforts that benefit Endangered Atlantic Salmon and other Service trust species such as brook trout and American eel.

For more information about the National Fish Habitat Awards, go to

For details about the Jim Range National Casting Call, visit