Sacramento NWR Complex California's Sacramento NWR Complex did not escape what appears to have been a statewide outbreak of avian cholera in wintering waterfowl. During the abbreviated work week between Christmas and New Year Day, over 3,000 birds were picked up at Butte Sink NWR. All other refuges in the complex experienced varying degrees of mortality. Disease severity may have been the result of cold temperatures and ice the previous week, which concentrated birds on the remaining open water and restricted refuge staff's ability to complete routine airboat disease patrols.
Salmon In an effort to reduce avian predation on listed salmon smolts, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) designed to relocate Caspian terns (Sterna caspia) nesting on Rice Island in the Columbia River estuary to a different site, East Sand Island. Caspian terns currently breed on 8 acres (3.2 hectares) of habitat on Rice Island. Limited research indicates that the 10,000 pair colony is consuming between 6 and 25 million salmon smolts per year. Hatchery fish account for approximately 90 percent of the smolts taken. We hope that the relocation of terns to East Sand Island will reduce their predation of salmon smolts due to a larger variety of prey in this area. The EA calls for the creation of approximately 16 acres (6.5 ha) of tern habitat on East Sand Island near the mouth of the Columbia River, deployment of a sound system and decoys on East Sand Island to attract nesting terns, vegetation of Rice and Miller Sands Islands to discourage tern nesting, and potential harassment of terns on Rice and Miller Sands to encourage them to move to East Sand Island. One acre (0.4 ha) of tern nesting habitat will remain on Rice Island. Although small, this site is estimated to support 1,000 pairs.
Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR Complex A section of the refuge near Bruchard Bay burned recently. The wildfire was extinguished by a U.S. Forest Service fire crew from the Cleveland National Forest. Approximately 7 to 10 acres (2.8 to 4 ha) were burned, with substantial loss of habitat for the endangered Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis).
Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge The decision document for an addition to Bitter Creek NWR was approved on December 28, 1998. CalTrans will donate the 40-acre (16-ha) Wilson tract containing habitat for the endangered San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) to the FWS as mitigation for improvements to State Route 33, which runs through the refuge.
Lewis and Clark Commemoration Nearly 200 years ago, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark opened a new frontier for the fledgling United States with their historic journey from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Pacific Ocean and back. In a way, they were western America's first wildlife biologists, and described 178 plants and 122 animals not previously recorded.
A 4-year-long bicentennial commemoration will begin in 2003, with 10 million visitors expected to visit at least one point on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail during that time. They will place heavy demands on refuges and hatcheries along the route as they seek information and access to Lewis and Clark sites. At the same time, this event will offer an unprecedented opportunity for the FWS to reach a new audience by reflecting on the past and future of the country's natural resources, including how plants and animals identified by Lewis and Clark are faring today.
The FWS has formed a national Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Team, which met for the first time in January in Portland, Oregon. Potential projects associated with the bicentennial include heritage protection measures such as land acquisition and habitat restoration. For more information, contact Susan Saul, the Region 1 Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Coordinator, at 503/231-2728.
Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) A comprehensive survey by FWS, Forest Service, and Wildlife Conservation Society biologists in the area covered by the Northwest Forest Plan confirmed the presence of Canada lynx in the Oregon Cascades. On July 8, 1998, the FWS proposed to list the U.S. population of this elusive cat as threatened.
Jobs-in-the-Woods Participants in the "Jobs-in-the-Woods" program, which provides training and employment in environmental restoration to dislocated timber workers in Oregon, completed the final inspection of the FY 1998 West Fork Agency Creek Culvert Replacement Project on lands owned by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Yamhill County, Oregon. Failing, undersized, and poorly placed culverts at two locations were replaced by oversized bottomless arch culverts. The new culverts restored fish passage to 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) of suitable habitat for anadromous steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). This project is featured on the Tribes' website, which can be accessed at www.grandronde.org (click on: natural resources, fish and wildlife, culvert project). The FWS contributed one-third of the $88,374 project cost. This is the second successful fish passage collaboration between Jobs-In-The-Woods and the Tribe, which have reopened 18 miles (29 km) of suitable habitat. Other Jobs-In-The-Woods personnel completed the final inspection of the FY 1998 Nelson's Checker-mallow Habitat Enhancement Project on lands owned by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Polk County, Oregon. The site is one of four areas protected by a conservation easement between the Tribes and FWS for the management of Nelson's checker-mallow (Sidalcea nelsoniana), a plant listed as threatened. Approximately 10 acres (4 ha) of upland and wetland habitat dominated by invasive vegetative species were chemically and mechanically cleared, then seeded with native grass species. The Tribes also transplanted 90 checker-mallow plants, salvaged from another location, into an existing population. A new gate and cattle guard were installed to prevent cattle access from an adjoining landowner. At the same time, the Tribes also carried out a wetland mitigation project on an area adjacent to the enhancement/transplant location. This project required close coordination between FWS Oregon State Office contaminants, endangered species, and Jobs-In-The-Woods personnel. Nine partners contributed funds or technical assistance, or participated in the planning process to ensure successful implementation of this project. The FWS contributed $7,815 of the $18,382 project cost.
Reported by LaRee Brosseau of the FWS Portland Regional Office.