Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Third Annual National Fish Habitat Award Winners Announced

Award ceremony to be held at the Jim Range National Casting Call on April 22, 2010

The National Fish Habitat Board, a group of the nation’s leading authorities on aquatic conservation, will honor exceptional organizations and individuals who are leaders in aquatic resources conservation at the Third Annual National Fish Habitat Awards ceremony on April 22, 2010 at the Jim Range National Casting Call, hosted by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association.

From the nominations submitted by the hundreds of organizations that comprise the National Fish Habitat Partners Coalition and Fish Habitat Partnerships under the National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP) (, the awardees have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to fish habitat conservation, science and education. They are leading by example, through on the ground achievement, to help resolve the nation’s most significant fisheries problems.

The NFHAP Awards will be presented in short program, along with the unveiling of the 2010 NFHAP 10 “Waters To Watch.”

The Winners of the 2010 National Fish Habitat Awards:

Jim Range Conservation Vision Award in support of Fish Habitat Conservation:
Scott Robinson – Coordinator, Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP)
Aquatic resource conservation in the Southeastern U.S. has been improved through the leadership of Scott Robinson, coordinator of the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP). Scott spearheaded the development of the Southeast Aquatic Habitat Plan (The Plan) in order to directly and indirectly improve the quality and quantity of fish habitats in the region.

Directly, Scott’s leadership has resulted in local fish habitat improvement in each of the 14 SARP states through 30 on-the-ground projects between 2006 and 2009. These have impacted stream, river, reservoir, and coastal habitats as well as recreational, sensitive and imperiled species. Indirectly, Scott’s leadership trickles down to in-state research and conservation projects that utilize The Plan. Regionally, Scott is coordinating a systematic regional habitat assessment with the NFHAP Science and Data Committee's habitat assessment, and participates in relevant regional and national aquatic conservation issues such as the Black Bass Initiative and the Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership. Scott’s work and coordination with other Fish Habitat Partnerships, has been exceptional in regards to the fostering of newly formed partnerships.

Southeast Aquatics Resources Partnership -

Extraordinary Action in support of Fish Habitat Conservation:
Lower Bourbeuse Landowner Committee/Missouri Department of Conservation
Efforts to improve aquatic habitat in the Meramec – Lower Bourbeuse watershed, make for a unique partnership that is rarely found on the landscape. The uniqueness of the partnership comes from the sheer fact that landowners, mostly farmers, drive the aquatic restoration process. A well documented history of established landowner participation in the Meramec Basin-Lower Bourbeuse watershed has proven successful in ensuring healthy streams and healthy farms within the watershed.

A six-member landowner committee governs and guides restoration efforts in the Lower Bourbeuse Conservation Opportunity Area. The committee leads by example, contributing their time and expertise and choosing funding sources for proposal competitions. They host farm tours to encourage neighbor participation. There has been continuous demand for best management practices for agriculture, fisheries, forestry and wildlife to protect, enhance and restore natural resources. Installation of fencing, alternative water systems, and secured cattle crossings keep cattle out of streams, addressing root causes of habitat deterioration. Landowners appreciate what these projects mean for their watersheds and cattle.

Supporting document: US FWS Fish Lines Newsletter (May 2009) Pg. 20

About the Jim Range National Casting Call—Hosted by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, the Jim Range National Casting Call is an annual two-day event providing a unique opportunity for families, youth, the fly fishing industry and their partners to spend time on the water experiencing first-hand the benefits of collaboration in fisheries management. For more information, visit

Friday, March 12, 2010

Climate Change Could Threaten Hundreds of Bird Species Warns New State of the Birds Report

Oceanic and Hawaiian birds are in greatest peril from the effects of climate change according to the new State of the Birds: 2010 Report on Climate Change released yesterday by the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, on behalf of the partnership of federal and state wildlife agencies, scientific and conservation organizations that collaborated on the research.

The State of the Birds: 2010 Report on Climate Change is the nation's first assessment of migratory birds' vulnerability to climate change. The report indicates that climate change could have an increasingly disruptive effect on bird species in all habitats, although the way lands are managed can mitigate climate change impacts and help birds adapt to changing conditions.

Key findings in the 2010 report:

• Oceanic birds are among the most vulnerable species because they don't raise many young each year; they rely on a rapidly changing marine ecosystem; and they nest on islands that may be flooded as sea levels rise.

• Hawaiian birds such as endangered species Puaiohi and 'Akiapola'au already face multiple threats and are increasingly challenged by mosquito-borne diseases and invasive species as climate change alters their native habitats.

• Birds in coastal, arctic/alpine and grassland habitats as well as those on Caribbean and other Pacific Islands show intermediate levels of vulnerability; most birds in aridlands, wetlands and forests show relatively low vulnerability to climate change.

• For bird species that are already of conservation concern such as the Golden-cheeked Warbler, Whooping Crane and Spectacled Eider, the added vulnerability to climate change may hasten declines or prevent recovery.

• The report identified common bird species such as the American Oystercatcher, Common Nighthawk and Northern Pintail, that are likely to become species of conservation concern as a result of climate change.

"This 2010 report outlines many conservation actions that will be important as biological planning and design of large-scale conservation efforts are advanced," said John Hoskins, Chair of the U.S. NABCI Committee and recently retired Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation. "The proven delivery models exhibited by the Migratory Bird Joint Ventures and the actions outlined in the State Wildlife Action Plans in addition to new partnerships will be important as we tackle the additional threats climate change will place on the birds of our nation."

"While the specific implications of climate change on wildlife, including birds, are uncertain and vary on a regional and state basis, the 2010 State of the Birds Report only emphasizes how important the need is for increased conservation and science-based management," said Ron Regan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. "State fish and wildlife agencies recognize that climate change is a large-scale issue and are working together and with the greater conservation community to develop landscape-scale responses that support managing robust populations and healthy habitats - the best insurance in an uncertain future."

The 2010 State of the Birds Report is the follow-up to a comprehensive report released a year ago showing that that nearly a third of the nation's 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or in significant decline.

The U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative--which is chaired by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and includes partners from the American Bird Conservancy, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, USDA Forest Service and the U.S. Geological Survey--produced the report. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinated its development.

For more information visit

Monday, March 8, 2010

Decision Making in the Face of Scientific Uncertainty: Adaptive Management for Climate Change

An Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Workshop
2010 North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference
March 22, 2010

Resource managers are often required to make tough decisions, especially when the science is uncertain. However, these decisions must be defensible if called into question. It is often unclear what the full impact of an environmental problem will be and what kind of impacts (both intended and unintended) the solution may have. Adaptation to climate change will be an especially challenging issue for management agencies because decisions will be made, in many cases, based on an incomplete understanding of climate change impacts, particularly at the local level.

Adaptive management and structured decision making are critical tools for making management decisions with incomplete information and high levels of uncertainty. Structured decision making is a decision analysis process that can help overcome challenges by breaking down difficult decisions such that a decision can be acceptable to a broad range of stakeholders. Adaptive management allows decision making to proceed even in the face of profound uncertainty about outcomes by treating management decisions as testable hypotheses.

Recognizing the importance of adaptive management and structured decision making, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Science & Research Committee is developing a series of workshops for state fish and wildlife agencies to provide them with the tools for making decisions in a scientifically defensible manner.

The first workshop at the 2009 North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference focused on using adaptive management and structured decision making for invasive species management. For the second workshop, the Science & Research Committee, in collaboration with the Association’s Climate Change Committee, will present how adaptive management and the structured decision making process can be used to address climate change adaptation issues and can also be built into State Wildlife Action Plans revisions, as well as revisions for other plans.

Workshop Presentations:

Introduction to Adaptive Management & Structured Decision Making
Ken Williams (USGS)

Wise Decision Making for Climate Change Adaptation
Jim Nichols (USGS)

Integration of SDM into the State Wildlife Action Plans
TJ Fontaine (USGS)

Integration of Climate Change into Adaptive Management:
Adjustments in North American Waterfowl Harvest Management

Mark Koneff (USFWS)

Climate Change as an Adaptive Management Issue: Terrestrial Songbirds in Southern Appalachian
Mike Conroy (Univ. of GA)

Climate Change Effects within an Aquatic Ecosystem and Social and Economic Costs toward Mitigation in the Yakima River Basin
Alec Maule (USGS-Western Fisheries) & Lynne Koontz (USGS)

Preparing for Changes in Aquatic Resources due to Climate Change in Light of the Uncertainties of Tomorrow
Rolf Olsen (USACE)

A State Perspective: Wisconsin DNR
Jack Sullivan (WI DNR)

Opportunities for State Training
Jay Slack (USFWS) & Ken Williams (USGS)

For more information, contact Dr. Arpita Choudhury, AFWA's Science and Research Liasion at