Heidi Keuler Recognized for Outstanding Work with Fishers and Farmers Partnership

 

heidi
BY SCOTT YESS, LA CROSSE FWCO
The following letter was presented to La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office Biologist Heidi Keuler, in recognition of her fantastic work as Fishers and Farmers Coordinator. The letter was presented by Steve Sodeman and Jack Lauer Co-Chairs of the Partnership.

On behalf of the Steering Committee of the Fishers & Farmers Fish Habitat Partnership (FFP), we present you this letter in recognition and appreciation of your services as coordinator for FFP. Your leadership and professionalism have been an invaluable asset to the development, function and motivation of a rather unique partnership. FFP was created to address the needs of both farmers and fishes across the Upper Mississippi River Basin— farmers because of the significance of agriculture in shaping our landscape and our communities, and fishes because of their importance as both a natural resource and an indicator of the ecological health of the Basin. To make the Partnership relevant and representative we include a diversity of stakeholders representing state natural resource agencies, nongovernmental organizations working on behalf of environmental issues, and—perhaps most importantly—agricultural landowners and organizations that work and speak on their behalf. Agricultural representation in FFP is so important because nearly all our projects are on private lands, requiring landowner cooperation and engagement as a prerequisite for success. It is these characteristics of the Partnership and the Basin that present an organizational challenge and need for a skilled coordinator. Our successes to date as a Partnership are in no small part attributable to your guidance as coordinator. Simply put, we couldn’t do it without you. The accomplishments you have achieved as coordinator are many and varied. To list but a few, you have:
Exhibited an attention to detail, organization, and timely guidance to ensure the successful funding and implementation of farmer-led projects

Expanded the reach and representation of FFP with your efforts to bring in new members, secured multi-state grant funds to support stakeholder engagement training in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin
Engaged other partnerships and Fish Habitat Partnership staff at the national level, and in doing so have helped to attain a high profile for FFP

Earned the respect of all interests on the Steering Committee with your cooperative spirit and skill at bringing
together partners from diverse backgrounds and helping them to work together on common goals

Heidi, we have been pleased and rewarded with your leadership in FFP. You play an invaluable role in keeping us on task and in making the most out of what each of us can contribute to FFP. Thank you for your service as FFP coordinator. We look forward to continuing to work with you to further build upon the successes FFP has achieved with your leadership, service, and professional support.

Heidi in field

Partnership coordinator and La Crosse FWCO biologist Heidi Keuler is widely recognized as “Outstanding in her Field!

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Restoration Programs Create Jobs, Pump Millions into Local Economies

PartnersForFishWildlifePartners for Fish and Wildlife staff meets with private landowners in Michigan to review habitat restoration project. (Photo by USFWS)

 

A peer-reviewed analysis finds that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s habitat restoration programs are extraordinary engines for the U.S. economy.

The report, Restoration Returns: The Contribution of Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Coastal Program Projects to Local U.S. Economies, finds that by working with partners Service programs created more than 3,900 jobs in Fiscal Year 2011 and generated a total economic stimulus of $327.6 million.

Each year, the Service completes more than 3,500 public-private partnership habitat restoration projects under the two programs, which leverage government dollars to generate private sector investment that is channeled into local communities.

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife program works with willing landowners to improve wildlife habitat. Landowners agree to maintain the projects for at least 10 years, but otherwise retain full control of their land. In Fiscal Year 2011:

• $18.6 million was invested nationwide through the program, leveraging more than $142 million in private sector contributions, totaling $161 million in restoration spending.
• When cycled through the economy, the projects generated more than $292 million for local economies, a return of $15.70 for every federal dollar spent.
• More than 3,500 jobs were created.

The Service’s Coastal Program works with communities and partners to undertake projects that protect and restore vital wildlife habitat. Projects include removing invasive species, replanting salt marsh and sea grasses, and installing living shorelines to prevent erosion. In Fiscal Year 2011:

• $2.8 million was spent on projects, leveraging more than $16 million from project partners, totaling 19.2 million in project funds.
• After cycling through the economy, these project funds provided $35.6 million in local economic stimulus, a return of $12.78 for every federal dollar spent.
• More than 470 jobs were created.

To see the entire report at: www.fws.gov/home/restoration_returns.html

Sportfishing and Conservation Groups Hail Introduction of National Fish Habitat Conservation Act in Senate

March 6, 2014 – Washington, D.C. – Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced S. 2080 the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (NFHCA) on March 5, 2014. The bipartisan legislation authorizes the National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP) – an unprecedented national partnership effort aimed squarely at protecting, restoring and enhancing the nation’s aquatic resources and fish habitat.

Both Senators Cardin and Crapo sit on the Environment and Public Works Committee – Senator Cardin is the Chair of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee. Previous versions of NFHCA have enjoyed broad bipartisan support in Congress, including bipartisan approval by the Environment and Public Works Committee in two different Congresses. The language in the bill introduced today includes modifications to language in earlier versions of NFHCA that were made in consultation with several Senators and their staffs from both sides of the aisle.

“Choosing to protect our natural resources is good for our environment and our economy. Right now we need deliberate and targeted action to stem the loss of our precious aquatic habitats,” said Senator Cardin. “Our bill takes a comprehensive approach to stopping the single greatest cause of declining fish populations, by stemming the decline of healthy aquatic ecosystems that are critical to all fish species. We need to encourage healthier habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife as well as safer recreational waters for Americans to swim, boat and fish.”

“The legislation we’ve introduced stems from Senator Cardin’s and my shared goals of protecting, maintaining and improving our fish habitats,” said Senator Crapo. “Instead of creating new regulations and mandates, our bill fosters partnerships between federal, regional and local stakeholders to work together to promote healthy and sustainable fish populations for our communities.”

A wide range of sportsmen’s and conservation groups has endorsed this legislation over the years. It is the hope of these groups and others supporting this historic piece of legislation that it be adopted as an amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 1996) – a package of legislation introduced by Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

“We truly appreciate the leadership of Senators Cardin and Crapo in the introduction of this Act,” said Gordon Robertson, Vice President of the American Sportfishing Association. “The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act would be a great addition to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 as it does not have a fishery habitat conservation piece of any kind and we believe the Fish Habitat Act would not only round out the package of bills but solidify the benefits for the sportsmen and women’s communities. The Fish Habitat Conservation Act will be a great compliment to the existing and long standing Sport Fish Restoration Act.”

“The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act is a critical piece of locally driven, common-sense legislation that will benefit local communities, and fish and fish habitat,” said Jen Mock Schaeffer, Government Affairs Director for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “Designed to replicate the continent’s preeminent and successful plan for conserving waterfowl, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act can provide the same kind of conservation benefits for fish and fish habitat across the country.

“The Nature Conservancy joins our partner organizations in supporting the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act introduced by Senators Cardin and Crapo,” said Kameran Onley, Director of U.S. Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy. “After many months of negotiations, we are pleased with this version of the legislation which reinforces the importance of the role of states and better addresses concerns raised by ranching and agriculture communities. This legislation is a model for the way conservation should occur – through voluntary, community-based, and from the-ground-up efforts.”

“The National Fish Habitat Action Plan is already working on the ground to make sport fishing better, from helping farmers manage livestock to protecting brook trout streams in West Virginia, to enhancing growth of native vegetation, improving water quality on Lake Conroe, Texas, to improving stream flows for coho salmon through a partnership with vintners on the Russian River, California” said Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited. “The new bill will ensure that farmers, ranchers and other landowners have a seat at the decision-making table and will ensure the long term sustainability of the program.”

In 2013 alone, National Fish Habitat Partnership projects opened nearly 200 miles of waterways to fish passage. Efforts like this implemented by grassroots-led habitat partnerships are one of only a few ways the National Fish Habitat Partnership is making a difference in conserving fish habitats across the country.

About the National Fish Habitat Partnership:
Since 2006, The National Fish Habitat Partnership has been a partner in 417 projects in 46 states benefiting fish habitat. The National Fish Habitat Partnership works to conserve fish habitat nationwide, leveraging federal, state, and private funding sources to achieve the greatest impact on fish populations through priority conservation projects. The national partnership implements the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and supports 18 regional grassroots partner organizations. For more information visit:

http://fishhabitat.org/
http://www.facebook.com/NFHAP
https://twitter.com/FishHabitat
http://www.scoop.it/t/fish-habitat

Study Finds Steep Decline In Amphibians

A new U.S. Geological Survey study, using data collected at national wildlife refuges and other sites, found a steep drop in the numbers of frogs, toads and salamanders across the country. The study shows widespread species declines even in protected areas such as refuges.

On average, amphibian populations studied vanished from habitats at a rate of 3.7 percent each year. At that rate, these species would disappear from half of their current habitats in about 20 years. More threatened species disappeared from their studied habitats at a rate of 11.6 percent each year. At that rate, these species would disappear from half of their current habitats in about six years.

Scientists with the USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative analyzed nine years of data from 34 sites ? including 10 national wildlife refuges – and covering 48 species. The refuges were: Buenos Aires, AZ; Coldwater River, MS; Great Bay, WI; Neal Smith, IA; Rachel Carson, ME; Upper Mississippi River, MN, WI, IL, IA; William L. Finley, OR; Eastern Massachusetts; Canaan Valley, WV; and Klamath Marsh, OR.

“Amphibians have been a constant presence in our planet’s ponds, streams, lakes and rivers for 350 million years or so, surviving countless changes that caused many other groups of animals to go extinct,” said USGS Director Suzette Kimball. “This is why the findings of this study are so noteworthy; they demonstrate that the pressures amphibians now face exceed the ability of many of these survivors to cope.”

The study found declines even in species presumed to be relatively stable and widespread. Declines were documented nationwide, from the swamps in Louisiana and Florida to the high mountains of the Sierras and the Rockies.

“Even though these declines seem small on the surface, they are not,” said USGS ecologist Michael Adams, the lead author of the study. “Small numbers build up to dramatic declines with time. We knew there was a big problem with amphibians, but these numbers are both surprising and of significant concern.”

The study did not evaluate causes of decline, but researchers speculated disease and climate warming were among contributing factors. The decline in amphibian numbers affects humans because amphibians control pests, provide medicines, feed other animals and help make ecosystems work.

FrogStudySpringPeeperFrog

This spring peeper frog is sitting on a leaf at West Virginia’s Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, one of 10 refuges involved in the study. (Ken Sturm/USFWS)

It Pays to Conserve

 

Outdoor recreation—including skiing at Waubay National Wildlife Refuge, SD—generates $88 billion in federal and state tax revenue.Laura Hubers

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contributed about $4.2 billion in economic activity and supported more than 32,000 private sector jobs as a result of national wildlife refuges and other public lands managed by the Service, according to a recent report commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The report also shows that the total value of ecosystem services provided by habitat in the Refuge System is worth more than $32 billion each year. Ecosystem services include all the functions performed by nature that benefit people, such as climate regulation, waste treatment, water supply, and carbon sequestration, among others.

Produced by Southwick Associates, the 2011 report includes data on the economic value of natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation. All together, the economic impact in the United States – including from the Refuge System —  is $1.06 trillion dollars – more than the gross domestic product of Australia.

Key findings:

  • Outdoor recreation– generates $88 billion in federal and state tax revenue. The study measured recreation not widely offered on national wildlife refuges, like camping and skiing, as well as recreation often found on refuges, including hunting, fishing and wildlife observation.
  • The property value of homes near parks and protected areas is typically about 20 percent higher than similar homes elsewhere.
  • About $2 billion was spent on construction and maintenance activities related to recreation and conservation, supporting about 41,000 jobs.
  • $222 million spent by the Department of the Interior on land acquisition contributed about $427 million in economic activity and supported about 3,000 jobs.

The full report is available online at  http://bit.ly/uYlico.

Mobile App of Wildlife Refuges Available

Free Until April 1

Quick: Where is your nearest national wildlife refuge? And what can you do for fun there?  Now there’s an app for that.

And until April 1, you can still download it free of charge.

“Myrefuge,” a mobile application by Zaia Design, helps outdoor enthusiasts explore natural areas and learn what resources refuges offer. It features searchable maps and instant information on bird watching, trails and historic sites. The app showcases 59 of the country’s 556 national wildlife refuges, up from 42 at its December launch. The count is expected to continue to grow.

“MyRefuge” can be downloaded from iTunes: http://bit.ly/v3diSJ and appshopper: http://bit.ly/uKh1jg. After April 1, the app will cost $.99.

For each refuge on the app, detailed maps show trails, recreational facilities such as photo blinds, hunting blinds and fishing areas, and nearby public roads. The app tells viewers, for example, that the auto tour route through wildlife habitat on Charles M. Russell Refuge, MT, is 19 miles long and takes two to three hours to drive.  And that Canaan Valley Refuge, WV, contains some 20 hiking trails, identified by trail length and location. The app also tells you how near you are to any featured refuge.

You can also pick up highlights of a refuge’s history, culture or wildlife setting. The Lombard Ferry on Seedskadee Refuge, WY, you learn, ferried westward pioneers across the Green River in the mid-19th century. You can learn how Ridgefield Refuge, WA, honors its Chinookan heritage at its Cathlapotle Plankhouse and how Malheur Refuge, OR, preserves and interprets Civilian Conservation Corps structures on the refuge. Birding information is big at Bear River Refuge, UT. And there are tips on bear safety at Kenai Refuge, AK.

The MyRefuge app was conceived by Eugene Marino, cultural resources program manager for the Refuge System. “The idea is to give people a new way to learn about cultural resources and other activities we offer,” he said. National wildlife refuges not only conserve America’s wildlife habitat: they also preserve archaeological sites, museum collections of artifacts, and historic homes and lighthouses. More than 320 refuges offer hunting and fishing. Many also contain hiking and canoe trails.

Among refuges featured to date in MyRefuge are some from the West (for example, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Refuge and Charles M. Russell Refuge, MT), the Midwest (Wichita Mountains Refuge, OK, and Minnesota Valley Refuge), the South (Pelican Island Refuge, FL) and Alaska (Kenai Refuge). Most are in the East (including Chincoteague Refuge, VA, and Rachel Carson Refuge, ME).

 

 

Upper Miss Designated Wetland of National Significance

Swans flying over Upper Mississippi River Refuge

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, is an international treaty signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. The convention provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation of wetlands around the world.

In January 2010, the Upper Mississippi River Floodplain Wetlands became one of more than 1,800 Ramsar sites worldwide. Over 302,300 acres of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are included in the Ramsar designation.

In making the announcement, Secretary Salazar said, “The ecological, social, and economic values of the Upper Mississippi River make it one of the crown jewels of this nation’s wetlands. This marks the 27th U.S. wetland designated under the Convention on Wetlands. The U.S. became a party to the convention in 1987, which now includes 150 countries. It’s certainly fitting that this area has now officially received international recognition.”

The designation includes just over 300,000 acres of federal and state lands and waters of the Upper Mississippi River floodplain from near Wabasha, Minn. to north of Rock Island, Ill. The designation includes all of the 240,000-acre Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge headquartered in Winona, Minn. and the adjacent 6,226-acre Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin.

Other designated sites in the U.S. include such wetland icons as Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia and Florida, Everglades National Park in Florida, and Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin.

The site consists primarily of flowing main and side channel habitats, backwater marshes, and floodplain forests.

Facts about the Upper Mississippi River Floodplain Wetlands of International Importance:

  • Home to more than 100 native fish species and 42 native mussels including the nationally endangered Higgins eye pearlymussel
  • Located at the core of the Mississippi Flyway, through which 40% of North America’s waterfowl migrate. Treasures of the floodplain wetlands are the canvasback duck and tundra swans.
  • Well over 3 million people visit each year