From the Nevada Nature Conservancy:
Check out these five cool Nevada migrations at the Nevada Nature Conservancy's website!
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has taken necessary actions in the Montana Mountains in Northern Nevada in an effort to save healthy bighorns in the adjacent Nevada and Oregon mountain ranges. The decision was made to depopulate a herd of California bighorn sheep due to an ongoing and aggressive outbreak of polymicrobial pneumonia that has caused an all age die-off in a once healthy herd in the Montana Mountains of Humboldt County.
"We had to make the difficult but necessary decision to completely depopulate the Montana Mountains of the remaining small number of bighorn sheep to prevent the spread of pneumonia to sheep in other Nevada mountain ranges and to prevent the possibility of sick sheep dispersing into the neighboring state of Oregon," said Nevada Department of Wildlife Director Tony Wasley. "This is truly an unfortunate measure, but as the extent of this disease event has become clearer to us, we have determined that it is the proper and responsible course of action. " An important factor in the Department’s decision is that currently, there is no known cure or treatment for the illness.
Indications of disease in this herd were first revealed in early December 2015 during routine capture and radio-marking efforts. Subsequent close monitoring and disease testing of additional bighorn sheep from this area indicated a high occurrence of pneumonia.
Learn more here: http://www.ndow.org/Bighorn-Sheep-Disease-Event-Montana-Mountains/_
The planet’s entire population of Amargosa voles—as few as 50 or as many as 500; no one really knows—lives in isolated remnants of marshland fed by springs that bubble beneath the Valley. The one-of-a-kind ecosystem of just 247 acres is as rare as the vole itself, a patchwork of watery oases in the middle of the Mojave, where temperatures reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The marshes attract thousands of migratory birds, coyotes, bobcats, and even a rare desert-dwelling fish.
The critters spend nearly all their short lives—about three months on average—in tunnels they’ve burrowed deep through impenetrable thickets of bulrush, which provide their sole food and shelter. Leaving the marshy fortress for open terrain would be tantamount to a death sentence: Weighing less than four ounces, the furry brown critters are extremely snackable, liable to become vole chow for any of two dozen predators that prowl Tecopa, including a pack of eight coyotes that live on an island in a nearby dry lake bed.
Drought, development, and climate change also threaten the rodent’s fragile habitat. Still, Amargosa voles have persisted here for thousands of years, surviving as the once vast marshlands of the Pleistocene epoch disappeared millennia ago and the wooly mammoth went the way of the saber-toothed tiger.
But now the vole’s days could be numbered. And that number is 1,825. Between 2013 and 2014, the rodent’s population violently crashed as its main marsh in Tecopa suddenly dried up. Biologist Robert Klinger of the United States Geological Survey and other scientists subsequently determined that unless drastic action was taken, there was an 82 percent chance the vole would go extinct within five years.
Learn more here: http://www.takepart.com/feature/2015/04/08/last-chance-save-amargosa-vole-most-critically-endangered-mammal?cmpid=organic-share-facebook
Comment on the BLM Changes to the Proposed Greater Sage Grouse Bi-State Population Land Use Plan Amendment
Carson City – The BLM today announced an opportunity to comment on potential changes to the Proposed Plan as set forth in the Greater Sage Grouse Bi-State Distinct Population Segment (BSSG) Forest Plan Amendment/Final Environmental Impact Statement. The United States Forest Service (USFS) was the lead agency for preparing the environmental impact statement (EIS) and land use plan amendment (LUPA). The BLM, a cooperating agency, is proposing to amend the Carson City District Office Consolidated Resource Management Plan (RMP) and the Tonopah Field Office RMP based on the analysis in this EIS. Public comments will be accepted through December 14, 2015.
Following release of the Final EIS and Proposed Plan, the BLM determined based on protests received and additional internal reviews that additional changes to and a clarification of the Proposed Plan was required. The clarification and changes include: (1) setting disturbance caps within BSSG habitat; (2) adjusting buffers for tall structures near active or pending leks, (3) adding a restriction for new high-voltage transmission lines, and (4) additional management direction for habitat connectivity. The environmental consequences of the proposed changes and clarification have been analyzed as part of the EIS/LUPA process.
The BLM has determined, however, that these proposed changes must be released for additional public comment. After considering any public comments on these proposed changes, BLM will issue a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Nevada and California BSSG amending the Carson City Field Office Consolidated Resource Management Plan (RMP) and the Tonopah Field Office RMP.
Comments must be limited to the changes and clarification proposed. BLM will consider the comments received prior to issuing a final ROD and RMP Amendment for public lands in the Carson City District and the Tonopah Field Office.
Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
• E-mail: email@example.com
• Fax: (775) 885-6147
• Mail: BLM Carson City District, 5665 Morgan Mill Rd., Carson City, NV 89701, Attn: Colleen Sievers, Project Manager.
To celebrate the nation’s enduring connections to the natural world and the unique ways nature touches everyone’s lives, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is celebrating National Wildlife Refuge Week from October 11-17, 2015.
National wildlife refuges, managed by the Service, have been part of America’s rich natural heritage since 1903, when President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on Pelican Island in Florida. Today, you can visit a refuge to fish, hunt, hike, birdwatch or simply commune with nature. While you’re there, learn how refuges protect natural spaces and improve life for you and your community.
“Americans are fortunate to have access to a wide network of national wildlife refuges close to where they live, from protected areas near cities like Philadelphia and Los Angeles to the coasts of the Pacific Northwest and Southeast,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “National Wildlife Refuge Week highlights the value of these protected spaces to wildlife and people alike and is a great time to explore your local refuge.”
“National Wildlife Refuge Week provides an ideal opportunity to discover the precious legacy that refuges represent,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “I hope Americans use this occasion to visit a refuge and recommit to preserving these special places for generations to come.”
Since 1995, refuges across the country have celebrated National Wildlife Refuge Week during the second full week of October with festivals, educational programs, tours and other events. Refuges offer world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and wildlife observation to photography and environmental education. Learn more about this year’s celebration by visiting http://www.fws.gov/refuges/visitors/RefugeWeek2015.html.
Refuges do more than provide great outdoor recreation: they help conserve wildlife, protect against erosion and flooding and purify our air and water. They also support regional economies, teach children about nature and offer safe places to connect with nature. Find a refuge near you by visiting www.fws.gov/refuges.
The National Wildlife Refuge System is the nation’s premier habitat conservation network, encompassing more than 150 million acres in 563 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge, and there is a refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.
National wildlife refuges also pump $2.4 billion into the national economy and support more than 35,000 jobs, according to the peer-reviewed report by the Service, Banking on Nature. More than 47 million people visit refuges every year. “Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land, the plants and the wildlife,” offered one visitor.
Refuges are also part of President Obama’s new Every Kid in a Park initiative, which aims to connect children to the outdoors and the natural world by providing free access to federal lands to fourth-graders and their families.
Check the special events calendar for National Wildlife Refuge Week events in your area and around the country.
Gopher Snakes (Pituophis catenifer) are found throughout the basin and range. In northern Nevada we typically come across the Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola).
Gopher snakes are also known as bull snakes or blow snakes. Some people confuse them with rattlesnakes; and indeed gopher snakes have evolved to mimic rattlesnakes. They do this in a few ways: (1) Their coloration is somewhat similar, however the patterns of the gopher snakes black/dark splotches down their backs are quite different from a rattlesnakes; (2) they shake their tails like rattlesnakes and when they do this in a pile of dry leaves, grass or other vegetation they can sound very similar to rattlers; and (3) they will flatten their heads and blow through their mouths to make a hissing noise, which also sounds similar to the rattle of a rattlesnake--this last reason is why they are sometimes referred to as blow snakes.
Gopher snakes are non-venomous, but they will bite you if they feel threatened.
Gopher snakes are typically around 4 to 5 feet in length and their bodies are moderately heavy. They are tan or straw in color with large, dark, rectangular blotches down the center of their backs, with smaller, more irregular blotches down their sides. Their heads are small when compared to rattlesnakes, but as mentioned above they'll flatten their heads to make them look bigger and more triangular like a rattlesnakes.
They typically eat small rodents (mice, rats, gophers, and ground squirrels), but they will also rabbits, birds (and their eggs), and lizards. They kill their prey by constriction.
These snakes tend to be out a lot in the day time and are unfortunately often on roadways where they are subjected to road kill. When out and about, I always try to stop--in a safe place--and prod snakes off roads to save them from the danger of death by vehicle.
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK— U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined Mexican Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Juan José Guerra Abud, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Anthony Wayne, U.S. Representative Will Hurd, and other local leaders to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the Boquillas Port of Entry as well as the ongoing binational conservation initiatives in the region. The Port of Entry facilitates coordination between the two countries in the protection and preservation of the Big Bend/Río Bravo region – North America’s largest and most diverse desert ecosystem.
Jewell and Guerra in Boquillas, Mexico today also signed a U.S.-Mexico Wildfire Protection Agreement to expand collaboration and cooperation across both countries on fire prevention and suppression efforts. Managing wildland fire is a common occurrence along the border and the two countries have cooperated on wildland fire efforts for decades, most recently through an agreement signed in 1999. The agreement signed today extends and expands those efforts.
“As neighbors and partners protecting this diverse and ecologically rich region, the United States and Mexico share a continued commitment toward fulfilling a conservation vision President Roosevelt and President Camacho proposed over sixty years ago,” said Secretary Jewell. “With the support of Secretary Guerra and our counterparts in Mexico, we celebrate the latest steps in the long and productive history of bilateral cooperation in the conservation of natural and cultural resources between the United States and Mexico.”
“Today, the Governments of Mexico and the United States celebrate our continuing commitment to transboundary cooperation,” said Secretary Guerra. “The Big Bend Río Bravo Conservation Initiative is a model envisioned by our Presidents; it is a dream shared by many past generations; and a legacy for present and future ones. In sum, it is an example of the best our governments and people can pursue through cooperation and joint work.”
In 2011, the United States and Mexico agreed to a binational conservation initiative and working plan to continue coordination in the protection and preservation of the Big Bend/Río Bravo region.
It's National Wildlife Week and it's a great time to learn about all sorts of wildlife, including the wildlife that live in the Basin and Range region! Click the following link to go to the places, plants and animals page of the website to check out just some of the animals that live in the area. Also, follow this link to check out educator resources and lesson plans from the National Wildlife Federation. During National Wildlife Week, the National Wildlife Federation and their partners will highlight peoples connections to wildlife by exploring ways to interact with the wildlife, ways to handle local predators, and how to keep the wild alive everywhere!
Which critters are you most excited to see while out exploring? Let us know by leaving a comment.
WASHINGTON, Feb.12, 2015 –The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today issued a report showing that since 2010 USDA and its partners in the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) have worked with private landowners to restore 4.4 million acres of habitat for sage-grouse while maintaining working landscapes across the West. USDA also announced today that, through the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill, it will invest in new sage-grouse conservation work over the next four years.
“We’re working with ranchers who are taking proactive steps to improve habitat for sage-grouse while improving the sustainability of their agricultural operations,” Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie said. “Thanks to the interest from ranchers and support of our conservation partners, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is working to secure this species’ future while maintaining our vibrant western economies. Since 2010, we’ve worked with ranchers to conserve, restore, or maintain more than 4 million acres of habitat on private lands – an area twice the size of Yellowstone National Park.”
In the past five years, NRCS has invested $296.5 million to restore and conserve sage-grouse habitat, and has pledged to extend these efforts by approximately $200 million over four years through the conservation programs funded by the 2014 Farm Bill. Additionally, NRCS is piloting use of its Conservation Stewardship Program to broaden the impacts of SGI by targeting up to 275,000 acres to enhance sage-grouse habitat in 2015.
SGI is a diverse partnership led by NRCS that includes ranchers, state and federal agencies, universities, non-profit groups, and private business. SGI has leveraged the NRCS investment with an additional $128 million from partners and landowners, bringing the total SGI investment to $424.5 million. SGI aids ranchers with NRCS technical and financial assistance and in getting NRCS conservation practices on the ground.
Efforts range from establishing conservation easements that prevent subdivision of large and intact working ranches to improving and restoring habitat through removal of invasive trees. Across the range, conservation easements have increased eighteen-fold through the SGI, protecting 451,884 acres. NRCS efforts have been targeted towards the most important regions. More than one-third of the easement acreage is located in Wyoming, which contains 40 percent of the sage-grouse population. In Oregon, NRCS has invested $18.4 million through SGI in on-the-ground restoration, helping more than 100 ranchers remove conifers from 200,000 acres of key nesting, brood-rearing and wintering habitats, addressing 68 percent of the conifer threat to Oregon’s sage-grouse population on priority private land. These efforts focused on eliminating the encroachment of conifer trees on grasslands not only benefit the sage-grouse, but also improve the forage available on grazing lands.
“American ranchers are working with us to help sage-grouse because they know they are helping an at-risk bird while also improving the food available for their livestock,” Bonnie said. “As the saying goes, ‘What’s good for the bird is good for the herd.’”
“We continue to work diligently to remove the conifer trees that put sage-grouse and their habitat at risk,” said Tim Griffiths, NRCS’ coordinator for SGI. “By removing trees and saving vulnerable grasslands, we’re expanding the footprint of prime sage-grouse habitat while supporting sustainable ranching and working lands.”
For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or a local USDA service center.
Today’s announcement was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life.
From the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension:
Bi-State Pinyon-Juniper Expansion Forum in Minden, Nev., Feb. 25-26, open to public
As conservation efforts to preserve the bi-state sage-grouse continue, groups working on the issue, as well as experts from throughout the West and federal agency representatives, are coming together to advance the next steps in addressing one of the major contributing factors to the species’ decline: the expansion of pinyon-juniper vegetation that crowds out the sagebrush-dominated habitat needed for the species’ survival.
The Bi-State Pinyon-Juniper Expansion Forum will be held Feb. 25-26 at CVIC Hall, 1604 Esmeralda Ave., in Minden, Nev. The Bi-State Local Area Working Group is hosting the event, and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Steve Lewis, Douglas County Extension educator, has worked with a Bi-State subcommittee to plan the event. Lewis has been working on the sage-grouse conservation issue with five working groups in Nevada and California for several years, facilitating more than 50 meetings over the last few years. This two-day forum brings in a number of experts to specifically look at the issue of pinyon-juniper expansion, what has been done, what’s working and what’s not; and then aims to fine-tune pinyon-juniper treatments identified in the Bi-State Action Plan.
"Really, we want to gather all the current available research-based knowledge on this particular aspect, so that we can apply it to achieve effective treatment," Lewis said. "We also want to develop and improve partnerships to facilitate further action."
Lewis was asked to plan and facilitate the Forum by representatives from two organizations who have been very active in the issue, the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (as part of the Intermountain West Joint Venture/Sage Grouse Initiative). The two organizations, along with the Society for Range Management, Great Basin Fire Science Exchange and Praxis Associates, Inc., are sponsoring the Forum.
The entire event is open to the public, but Lewis says the 5:30 p.m., Feb. 25 event is most geared for the general public. It is an Open Rancher & Public Conversation on Pinyon-Juniper Management. Earlier that day, some of the sessions will explore the current understanding of pinyon-juniper treatments; strategies from other Western states; and tools, habitat use models and concepts for prioritizing future projects. There will also be a session on other considerations surrounding the pinyon-juniper issue, such as cultural values, pine nut production, pinyon jay habitat, livestock grazing, recreation and aesthetics.
The next morning will open with a session reviewing the 2012 Bi-State Action Plan. Then, other morning sessions will explore how the plan can be fine-tuned, how treatment success can be monitored, and opportunities for future successful collaborations. The event will wrap up that afternoon with an optional field tour to Wellington, Nev., where participants will make stops to compare different treatment methods, including removal/thinning done by a chainsaw versus by a vegetation masticator (a large machine that removes and chews up the vegetation).
There is no registration fee, and meals and refreshments will be provided, but registration by Feb. 20 is required. Go to www.monocounty.ca.gov/community-development/page/pinyon-juniper-expansion-forum to see the complete agenda or to register. Persons in need of special accommodations or assistance should call Lewis at least three days prior to the event. For more information, contact Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-782-9960, or Lori Reed with Intermountain West Joint Venture at email@example.com or 406-549-0732.
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