Tag Archives: u.s. fish and wildlife

Beach restorations along New Jersey's Delaware Bay will help horseshoe crabs spawn in early May.

Changing fortunes on Delaware Bay

One might think a creature named the horseshoe crab would be naturally lucky–and in some ways it is. The prehistoric throwback has retained its basic physiology for around 350 million years, so it’s already far outlasted our own species on an evolutionary scale. Evolved as it may be, its luck has been challenged along the shores of the Delaware Bay. Beaches that traditionally serve as one of the crabs’ major spawning grounds were severely eroded by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the species is projected to be impacted by continuing shore development, frequent intense storms like Sandy and ongoing sea level rise.

The eggs of mating horseshoe crabs at Delaware Bay will sustain thousands of migrating shorebirds on their long trips to the Arctic. Credit: Gregory Breese/USFWS

The eggs of mating horseshoe crabs at Delaware Bay will sustain thousands of migrating shorebirds on their long trips to the Arctic. Credit: Gregory Breese/USFWS

Even less fortunate are the migrating shorebirds who depend on their critical stopover at Delaware Bay to refuel on sustaining horseshoe crab eggs on their way to the Arctic—a journey that, for some, clocks more than 18,000 miles annually. Take the rufa red knot for example, a species whose numbers have declined so sharply that it is being considered for federal Endangered Species Act protection. It’s estimated that more than 50 percent of the entire rufa red knot population stops at Delaware Bay, one of the last undeveloped shores on the Atlantic coast, making the area essential to the continuing survival of the species.

Fifty to 70 truckloads of sand are being added daily to five beaches on Delaware Bay that were badly eroded by Hurricane Sandy. Click below to view video of the beaches being replenished.

But sometimes good fortune is the result of foresight. To help both of these species and the beach habitats upon which they depend, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has broken ground on the first of 31 forward-looking Hurricane Sandy resilience projects: a $1.65 million restoration of several beaches along the Delaware Bay. The effort includes repairing storm surge and erosion damage at Reeds Beach, Kimbles Beach, Cooks Beach and Pierce’s Point in New Jersey’s Cape May County and at Moore’s Beach in Cumberland County (all important habitat areas for both crabs and shorebirds). The project involves  depositing some 50-70 truckloads of locally-mined sand daily to re-establish the diminishing coastline, with total sand replenishment estimated at 45,500 tons.

A map of the Reeds Beach restoration area. Inset: Greater Delaware Bay with beach restoration proposals highlighted in red. Credit: American Littoral Society.

A map of the Reeds Beach restoration area. Inset: Greater Delaware Bay with beach restoration proposals highlighted in red. Credit: American Littoral Society.

Partners in the effort, including the American Littoral Society and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, are coordinating the restoration with the Service’s Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, and with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. These partners have not only been instrumental in helping to implement the Service’s core coastal resilience and habitat restoration goals, they’ve also been seeking to secure further funding to restore additional spans of Delaware Bay shoreline.

Restoration crews have been employing something of a hurry-up offense, as the sand must be added, spread and graded by early May, when the horseshoe crabs typically return for spawning.

Cape May National Wildlife Refuge hosts annual nighttime horseshoe crab tagging events on Kimbles Beach. Credit: USFWS.

Cape May National Wildlife Refuge hosts annual nighttime horseshoe crab tagging events on Kimbles Beach. Credit: USFWS.

Cape May Refuge Manager Brian Braudis says the refuge plans to host horseshoe crab taggings on May 15 and May 29 at 8:30 p.m. when the crabs return, on its Kimbles Beach parcel. Last year, volunteers including veterans, retirees and school children—some bussed in from upstate classrooms—tagged 1,000 horseshoe crabs. With a support network like this, who needs luck?

To read more about U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Hurricane Sandy recovery and resilience projects, visit http://www.fws.gov/hurricane/sandy. To view media coverage of Cape May beach restoration projects, click here. To learn about the Service’s broader conservation and habitat restoration efforts on Delaware Bay, click here.

A woman with long reddish hair and a blue U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service emblem holds a sign saying " I serve to conserve natural resources to benefit the public!"

I serve for you!

Today we hear from Wendi Weber, Regional Director for the Northeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, reflecting on this year’s theme of Public Service Recognition Week; “Why I Serve.”

A woman with long reddish hair and a blue U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service emblem holds a sign saying " I serve to conserve natural resources to benefit the public!"

Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber. Credit: Keith Shannon/USFWS

When I think about why I serve, I go back to when I was a pre-med student in college and had my first field job working on Cumberland Island in Georgia doing sea turtle research. Night after night under the stars with just the turtles, I realized that this is what I loved. I realized that you could feel a passion in your heart that makes you well up in tears. I realized that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life – to conserve fish and wildlife for the public.

I went back to school, changed my major, and here I am today. At the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we have an awesome opportunity and responsibility to protect the environment, not only for today, but for generations to come.

Click here for a photo album of why employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region serve!

When I first began my public service career, it was for the species. But as I’ve grown up in the Fish and Wildlife Service, my reason for serving has evolved. Now, it’s primarily all about the people. I work with some of the best people in the whole wide world! In my role, I help them do their jobs to fulfill the Service’s mission.

Each and every day I have the chance to do this, so each and every day I feel a sense of accomplishment. And even though my work as a public servant is different than it was when I began, each and every day I still feel the same sense of wonder and joy I felt on those starry nights at Cumberland Island.

That is why I serve.

A man holds a sign "Why we Serve . . . so the fish and mussels can be heard!" while a woman cranes her ear.

Wendi Weber helps employees such as Gale Heffinger and Melanie Carter fulfill the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Credit: USFWS

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

A man in a green shirt sits in front of a computer with flames in the background

Fired up about partnerships

Today we hear from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Regional Fire Coordinator Glen Stratton about the recent release of the Northeast Regional Action Plan of the Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. The cohesive strategy responded to the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement (FLAME) Act of 2009 to address how fire managers can work together to develop fire resiliency across the land, protect human communities and respond to wildfires.

A man in a green shirt sits in front of a computer with flames in the background

Glen Stratton has been the Northeast Region’s fire coordinator for almost a year.

Q: Why is the cohesive strategy important to the Northeast?
A: If you look at the term “cohesive,” it involves working with partners towards a common goal. Because there are so many people here in the Northeast and it’s so fragmented, we have many partners. So to me, the “cohesive strategy” is just putting down on paper what we’re already doing.

Q: How is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service engaged in the efforts?
A: [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Regional Fire Planner] Rick Vollick has been on the team that put together this regional action plan, so our region has been involved with the Northeast Regional Cohesive Strategy from the beginning. He’s been doing a good job of making sure our interests are represented.

Q: One of the three components of the cohesive strategy is resiliency. What does that mean?
A: Well, for me, resiliency is what we do to support the mission of the Fish and Wildlife Service. A resilient landscape would be one where a wildfire could burn through it, and it would respond [ecologically] positively. For example, we have areas in eastern Massachusetts and New Jersey where fires periodically burned. The more [prescribed] fire we can put on these landscapes, the more resilient they will be. If we’re doing our jobs, a wildfire would not be a stand-replacing event.

Q: What about the other components: human communities and wildfire response?
A: Our footprint is so small in this region with our refuges, so we work with our state partners to connect with homeowners and encourage them to do things to keep their homes safe from wildfire.  For the same reason, we also rely heavily on our state and local fire cooperators to respond to any wildfires on our land. Our firefighters can respond to wherever we’re needed to put out wildfires because we’re a national resource.

Q: How do you see the Northeast Region’s fire program as contributing to the future?
A: I think Fish and Wildlife will always have a fire program, but it may look different in the future.  We may not be able to assist or respond with the resources that we once had, but we’ll always be able to assist in all of the areas of the cohesive strategy, be it advisory or contributing resources and equipment. I don’t see the fire program going away.