Tag Archives: highlights 2012

Best of 2012: 10) When one plus one can equal three

We’re bringing in the new year with a look back at our milestones for 2012. Check back each day for featured events and activities from across the Northeast!

Biologists working to open 18 miles of Little Sucker Brook in Waddington, N.Y., to reconnect water for fish and other wildlife. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program led the project. Credit: USFWS

Biologists working to open 18 miles of Little Sucker Brook in Waddington, N.Y., to reconnect water for fish and other wildlife. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program led the project. Credit: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a hefty mission – to work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. And in our rapidly changing world, there’s no way we could get the job done without your help.

The Service depends on partnerships to conserve the nature of America. Throughout its storied history, the agency has been committed to a collaborative approach to safeguarding landscapes and wildlife. Our strategy is to empower Americans to become citizen conservationists. The more the Service can empower people as stewards of the land, the more effective we can be in our conservation mission.

A number of partnerships were born, cultivated and flourished last year. Here are a few that we celebrated:

Migratory Bird Joint Ventures honored 25 years of partnerships for bird conservation. These cooperative, regional partnerships work to conserve habitat for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people. Joint ventures have become widely accepted as the model for cooperative conservation, as they use state-of-the-art science to ensure that a diversity of habitats is available to sustain migratory bird populations. Of the 22 habitat-based joint ventures, two include parts of the Northeast — the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture and the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture. Watch the video.

Snow geese take off from Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Del. Credit: USFWS

Snow geese take off from Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Del. Credit: USFWS

The Pingree family in Maine received one of five national Joint Venture Conservation Champion Awards for private landowners on March 21, 2012. Since their large investments in Maine timberlands in 1820, the Pingree family has become one of the ten largest private landowners in the U.S., owning nearly one million acres of Maine timberland.

In 1993, the family initiated an independent, third-party green-certification of their forestland to the highest international standards. These efforts resulted in the Pingree’s Seven Islands Land Company becoming the world’s largest third-party certified sustainable forest products company.

In 2001, the Pingrees created the world’s largest conservation easement—ten years later, it is still the largest in the U.S. They sold all development rights on more than 760,000 acres—an area larger than the state of Rhode Island—to the New England Forestry Foundation, forever protecting over three percent of Maine’s land base.

The Pingree’s efforts have pioneered cooperative management agreements with the State of Maine and other landowners to protect valuable wildlife habitat such as deeryards, heron rookeries, falcon and eagle nesting sites, unique natural areas for rare and endangered species, and support for forestry and wildlife research projects. Further, their lands have been open to the public for traditional recreational uses.

You can enjoy more hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife-related recreational opportunities than ever before, thanks to 75 years of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs. These programs, which celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2012, have made the difference between the survival and abundance of some species and many fish and wildlife populations are at historically high levels today. WSFR also helps increase the number of days and places where you can go afield or on the water to enjoy your favorite outdoor activities.

Best of 2012: 9) Gone fishin’

Atlantic salmon in circular pool at White River National Fish Hatchery. Credit: Ann Froschauer/USFWS

Atlantic salmon in circular pool at White River National Fish Hatchery.
Credit: Ann Froschauer/USFWS

We’re bringing in the new year with a look back at our milestones for 2012. Check back each day for featured events and activities from across the Northeast!

Ever had an aquarium? You probably had no more than a handful of fish to care for. Imagine if you were raising millions and millions of fish, including a variety of species with different needs. Let’s throw some freshwater mussels in there, too.

You’re starting to look like a national fish hatchery, where biologists blend layers upon layers of science and technique to successfully raise and release fish and mussels that will support our waters and fishing pastime and industry.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Hatchery System was originally established to provide domestic food fish to replace declining native fish, whether from drought, over-harvest, pollution or other reasons.

National hatcheries in the Northeast help boost native aquatic populations, recover fish and freshwater mussels protected under the Endangered Species Act, and provide fish to benefit tribes and national wildlife refuges.

Across the Northeast hatcheries, biologists raised (and often released) Atlantic salmon, brook, rainbow and lake trout, American shad, paddlefish and a variety of freshwater mussel species, including the endangered James spinymussel, shiny pigtoe, northern riffleshell, clubshell, pink mucket, dromedary pearlymussel and sheepnose.

Allegheny National Fish Hatchery in Warren, Penn., completed its first year back in the business of raising lake trout to restore recreational fisheries in the lower Great Lakes. At the end of 2011, the hatchery received juvenile lake trout and eggs from hatcheries in Massachusetts, Michigan, Vermont and Wisconsin, and when they’re ready, the first group will be stocked into lakes Erie and Ontario.

Allegheny National Fish Hatchery

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $1.13 million in funding to complete the repairs at Allegheny National Fish Hatchery. With additional funds from the Service’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and hatchery maintenance accounts, the Service in March 2010 awarded a $1.7 million general construction contract to William T. Spaeder Co., Inc., to carry out the project. Credit: USFWS.

The hatchery had been inactive since 2005, when lake and brook trout in the hatchery tested positive for infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN). IPN is a highly contagious and incurable fish virus that can affect trout and salmon species, in some cases causing up to 90 percent mortality in young fish.

In addition, the 35-year old aeration tower was crumbling, high-pressure water lines and electronic controls were corroding, and the hatchery became unsafe for staff. Recovery Act funds were used in March 2010 to construct new aeration and degassing towers. The hatchery was thoroughly decontaminated following the discovery of IPN. Tests were done before any fish were released on site in November, and the hatchery is virus-free.

The young lake trout raised at the hatchery will support recreational fisheries in the two lakes as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The initiative is a partnership of 16 state, provincial and federal agencies working together to address the most significant environmental problems in the Great Lakes.

A number of federal and state hatcheries have a special source of funding from natural resource damage settlements. These settlements restore natural resources, such as fish populations, that have been injured by oil spills or hazardous substances, and funds come from the parties responsible for the spills. Our 2012 examples are from the Powell River in Virginia and Tennessee.

Staff and students from Virginia Tech in the Powell River in northeastern Tennessee. They are at the mussel release site finding mussels with PIT tags, electronic tags with numbers and letters that identify individual mussels. Credit: USFWS

Staff and students from Virginia Tech in the Powell River in northeastern Tennessee. They are at the mussel release site finding mussels with PIT tags, electronic tags with numbers and letters that identify individual mussels. Credit: USFWS

In 1996, a spill in Virginia’s Lee County released 6 million gallons of coal slurry into more than 20 miles of the Powell River and its streams, impacting fish, mussels and other wildlife. Funds have been used for a variety of efforts to return the river’s health, from protecting land to stocking fish and restoring streams. This past year, funds supported the raising of more than 200 threatened yellowfin madtom to stock in 2013 and the largest release — more than 6,500 individuals — of three endangered mussel species.

The Powell River is a headwater tributary of the Tennessee River and is among the most biologically diverse rivers in the country. Nearly 100 fish species and 35 mussel species occur in the Powell River. In fact, there are more mussel species found in the Powell River than in all of Europe, says Service biologist Jess Jones.

“I am optimistic that by continuing to improve propagation technology for mussels, reducing and eliminating pollution sources, protecting habitat, and working with partners, recovery can be achieved for some species,” Jess says.

Best of 2012 8) Controlling invasive species

We’re bringing in the new year with a look back at our milestones for 2012. Check back each day for featured events and activities from across the Northeast!

Invasive species pose some serious threats. They can displace native fish and wildlife and change native habitats, harming fish, wildlife and plant resources. Invasive species can also pose a risk to human health. In 2012, the Service worked to reduce the impacts that invasive species are having across the Northeast Region. A few projects that we worked on this year:

The first collection of hydrilla verticillata in Tonowanda Creek. Credit: USFWS

The first collection of hydrilla verticillata in Tonowanda Creek. Credit: USFWS

In September, staff at the Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office discovered hydrilla verticillata, a highly invasive aquatic plant, in the New York State Canal System in Tonawanda, N.Y. Hydrilla crowds out waterweeds and other essential plants, slows water flow and can clog lakes and rivers, enough to even eliminate swimming or boating. The pest is confirmed within one mile of the Niagara River, and thus the Great Lakes. The extent of its possible impacts to the Great Lakes remains unknown, but monitoring elsewhere suggests the plant can become quite a nuisance in waters up to 25 or 30 feet deep. The Service’s Lower Great Lakes office is leading a rapid assessment team of state and federal agencies to determine the actual reach of the plant in the Tonawanda Creek and Niagara River corridor, which will help establish potential response options.

Galerucella beetles helped control invasive purple loosestrife in seven Northeast states in 2012. Credit: Katrina Scheiner

Galerucella beetles helped control invasive purple loosestrife in seven Northeast states in 2012. Credit: Katrina Scheiner

At the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex, biologists reared between 17,000 and 33,000 Galerucella beetles to control purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), an invasive wetland plant. The beetles feed on the leaves of purple loosestrife and reduce the growth and reproduction of the invasive plant. Purple loosestrife can lead to a decrease in plant diversity, resulting in a loss of wildlife diversity. Working with state partners and other organizations, Galerucella beetles were also released in six other Northeast states, including New Jersey, where the beetles were released in bog turtle wetlands.

Sea lamprey wound on an Atlantic salmon.

Sea lamprey wound on an Atlantic salmon.

The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) is a predatory fish that attaches to a host fish and feeds on it. Native to the Atlantic Ocean, a single sea lamprey can impact 40 or more pounds of fish in its life as a parasite. The Service’s Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Resources Office continued to evaluate and manage sea lamprey in Lake Champlain through state partnerships with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. A number of techniques are used before determining an appropriate control strategy in a particular area. After permits are granted, control strategies are planned in detail among all three partners. The evidence of success is visible during pesticide treatments, but ultimately realized through decreased wounding rates and a healthier fishery.

Learn more about invasive species