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December 2009

Click a Family Memory

This holiday season, create lifetime memories and establish new family traditions by getting outdoors with your camera and capturing photos of yourself and your family and friends exploring nature. Visit a national wildlife refuge, a national fish hatchery or your own “wildlife” neighborhood. Then share your best photos with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its Let’s Go Outside photo project, which already has more than 4,000 images.

All digital photos uploaded to the image mosaic will help compose an outdoor image. When viewed from a distance, the photo mosaic appears to be a single image. But closer examination reveals that it’s made up of thousands of smaller photos.

Here’s all you have to do:

1. Head for the outdoors – whether a national wildlife refuge or elsewhere – and bring your camera.

2. Photograph a friend or family member enjoying an outdoor activity. Or have someone snap a photo of you.

3. Send in your photo, following the instructions on the “Let’s Go Outside” Web site: http://yououtdoors.org/

4. To learn about outdoor opportunities and activities you can participate in, including the basics of digital nature photography, go to http://www.fws.gov/letsgooutside; or http://www.fws.gov/refuges/SpecialEvents/FWS_SpecialEvents_Search.cfm

Talk to – and Become -- the Media
By Greg Siekaniec, Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System

Reporters can be tough as nails – except when they learn about a national wildlife refuge from Friends who love them.

I saw an editorial from the Shreveport Times about Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana: “A short drive through a Bossier City neighborhood will deposit you in the middle of 650 acres of forest, filled with birds, wildlife and native plants. The Red River Wildlife Refuge is more than protected land getting in the way of the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway extension. We often talk about how beautiful northwest Louisiana can be. The refuge tries to preserve that beauty as closely as possible to its original state.”

The occasion for the editorial was the refuge’s fifth annual celebration of Refuge Week – and the Friends were active participants in rolling out the “green carpet to introduce the treasures of the refuge,” as the newspaper said.

There’s a straightforward message here: When Friends talk to the media, we get results. A Friends group brings a special voice – and community credibility – to working with the media. But media are changing. Since January 2008, at least 120 newspapers in the United States have shut down. At the same time, Facebook reaches a whopping 66 million people. That’s one reason we have included a short article in this issue about what makes a great Web site.

If you’re like me, you’re not ready to give up the daily newspaper. But if you’re like me, you want to reach as many people – in as many age categories – as we can about national wildlife refuges. Friends not only have credibility to make editorial writers take notice, but you also have the “social media” access that can transform Friends groups into Facebook or Twitter stars. Many Friends organizations already have Facebook page. Don’t forget about your local daily and weekly newspapers. Don’t ignore traditional media. But do join the scores of Refuge Friends groups that have learned about other means of communicating with a generation that grew up when “google” became a verb. Twitter. Become LinkedIn. Put your refuge photos on Flickr. Speak the language of “new media,” and talk to a generation whose newspaper experience has always been online. And let me know how it all works out.

Eight New Moth Species Discovered in Hawaii

Researchers from the University of Hawaii have discovered eight new moth species on three islands within Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, species found nowhere else in the world.  Researchers Patrick Schmitz and Daniel Rubinoff, who published their findings in the October issue of Zootaxa, believe these species may be descendants of species that colonized the Hawaiian archipelago more than 5 million years ago.

All of the new species are in the genus Hyposmocoma, a group found only in the Hawaiian Islands. “I am certain more species are waiting to be discovered in the Monument,” said Rubinoff, “since we’ve found hard evidence of their caterpillars and know them to be unique.” Before this study, only one species of Hyposmocoma had been identified in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is cooperatively managed by the Refuge System, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in close cooperation the State of Hawaii. For more information about the marine national monument, go to www.papahanaumokuakea.gov.

November 2009

Facebook Users Can Vote For Us in the Chase Community Giving Campaign

Chase has committed $5 million to a Facebook charity campaign. Chase Community Giving is a program run by Chase that will allow Facebook users to vote for local charities and non-profits, and help direct Chase corporate philanthropy dollars to eligible organizations in the following focus areas: education, healthcare, housing, the environment, combating hunger, arts and culture, human services, and animal welfare. The grassroots campaign aims to inspire a new way of corporate philanthropy.

The eligible charity receiving the most votes will be awarded $1 million, the top five runners-up will receive $100,000 each and the 100 finalists, including the top winners, will be awarded $25,000 each. Additionally, a special Advisory Board led by prominent national philanthropists will allocate $1 million to the nominated charities of its choice.

The Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge is one of the 500,000 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations on Facebook eligible for this campaign. While every Facebook user has 20 votes to use, voters may offer only one vote per charity in each round so spread the word. After making your vote, you'll be presented with plenty of ways to tell others about this charity. Aside from adding a personal comment to the charity's Page, you can make an update on Twitter, add a post to your profile or invite friends to access the application.

Voting for Round 1 ends December 11 so follow the following link to vote today.

Not a registered Facebook user? The voting process will be conducted on the Facebook Platform. However, if you are not a Facebook user, you can become a user to participate, or you can support your favorite charity by spreading the word about the program to family and friends.

Note on Dec. 13: Voting is now closed.

Election of Board Members

At the November 16th Annual Meeting the election of board members was held. Reelected for a second term were Richard Eakin, Kathleen Palmer, William Trout and Bertie Tullis. William McCarthy was elected as a new board member.

Your current Board of Directors:

Douglas Copeland
Richard Eakin
Ronald Leberman
Janet Marvin
William McCarthy
Char Oswald
Ronald Oswald
Kathleen Palmer
William Trout
Bertie Tullis

October 2009

NWRA Announces 2009 Refuge Photo Contest Winners

Washington, DC- The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 Refuge Photography Contest, a digital photography contest showcasing the stunning scenery and wildlife of Americas national wildlife refuges.

More than 2,000 images taken by photographers in 44 states and territories were submitted in this fourth annual Refuge Photo Contest, testimony to the allure of wildlife refuges as amazing places to experience wildlife and wild places. Images were submitted by upload through the contest website from May 1st through July 15th, 2009.

"Images of spectacular wildlife and landscapes tell the Refuge System story: that these 550 conservation gems are vital to sustaining Americas diverse wildlife heritage," said Evan Hirsche, President of the NWRA. "These photos will help us illustrate why its so important to protect and conserve our wildlife and habitats for the benefit of future generations."

The top prize was awarded to Ted Steinke, for an explosive image of dueling northern harriers taken at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, UT. Mr. Steinke will be awarded $5,000 in cash, generously provided by ATP Oil and Gas Corporation. Chairman and CEO of ATP T. Paul Bulmahn stated, "ATP is proud to be a 2009 Premier Sponsor. All of the images submitted showcased the beauty of our national wildlife refuges and national landscape. We congratulate the winners of the photo contest, and applaud NWRA's mission to conserve Americas wildlife heritage for future generations"

After Steinke, the remaining top prize winners are: 2nd place -- Mike McBride of Afton, WY; 3rd place -- Steve Dimock of Beaverton, OR; 4th place -- Jim Burns of Scottsdale, AZ; Judy Lyle of Tallahassee, FL; Les Zigurski of Scales Mound, IL; Jack Rogers of Oviedo, FL; and Timothy Vidrine of Church Point, LA.

Additional prizes awarded to contest finalists and runners-up include two round trip tickets courtesy of Southwest Airlines, and offerings from Barbaras Bakery, Wild Bird Centers of America and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The contest was generously hosted by Zenfolio, a premier photo-hosting site, and images and entries can be viewed at: http://nwra.zenfolio.com/2009-winners

A full list of contest winners and honorable mentions can be viewed at: http://www.refugeassociation.org/contest/2009winners.html

2009 Annual Meeting

Our by-laws state that an annual meeting of the Members must be held each year for the purpose of electing the Board of Directors and to transact any other business that may come before the meeting. It is also a chance to meet other members of the Friends of ENWR and to get to know your Board of Directors.

This year's Annual Meeting will be held on Monday, November 16th at the Erie Refuge's Headquarters building in Guys Mills. A "Pot Luck" dinner will be start the evening at 6:00 pm. Bring a casserole, salad, dessert or any other dish you wish to share with our Friends. Tableware and beverages will be provided.

Following dinner our President, Richard Eakin, will address the gathering highlighting our accomplishments for the past year and outlining our plans for the future. Questions and suggestions will then be entertained.

The election of Board Members is an important part of every Annual Meeting. Your vote is needed and your nominations are welcome. This year four existing members are up for reelection: Richard Eakin, Kathleen Palmer, William Trout and Bertie Tullis.

Sadly this year we are saying farewell to two board members, Matt and Linda Martin. Distance and other commitments have forced them to resign their positions on the board. We want to thank them for all their help and support in the past.

We want to remind all members that they are invited and encouraged to attend all Board of Directors meetings.

Forests, Fields and Water

The blog Forests, Fields and Water is changing it's format. Originally covering the Erie National Wildlife Refuge, it will now also be posting information about many local, state and national parks, nearby and afar.

Another major change is Geocaching videos will be posted there. Most of the geocaching is in state and local parks and near or in national forests. The refuge system doesn’t allow it (for now) but many have virtual geocaches which is more like waymarking.

The blog will now be known as Forests, Fields and Water - Sharing the Adventure. It will still be a place to find information about the Refuge and if you have photos or stories you'd like to share the contact for the blog is: afenwr@gmail.com

2009 Photo Contest Winners Announced

Rich Eakin, President of the Board of Friends of ENWR, and Mary Birdsong, President of Presque Isle Audubon Society, give out awards on Sunday.

Photos of the Winners

The Erie NWR's Biennial Nature Photo Contest received 88 entries this year. Six photos were entered in the Student category and 27 entries were taken on the Erie NWR itself. The remaining entries were divided as follows: Plants - 18, Wildlife - 54, and Landscape - 15 entries.

Judging took place the morning of October 11th. On the panel of judges were Larry Brown, amateur photographer and Board member of Erie Photography Club; Dennis Burchard, professional photographer and owner of Burchard Photography in Guys Mills; Michelle Franz, amateur photographer, Secretary of Presque Isle Audubon Society and co-author of Presque Isle Naturally Blog; Toni Kelly, Alternate Judge, amateur photographer, artist, graphic artist and co-author of Presque Isle Naturally Blog.

The winners were announced at a reception held later that day. And the winners are...

Best Picture Taken on ENWR – Judith Oakes, Jamestown, PA

Best Youth Photo – Chris Foltyn, McKean, PA

Wildlife Category:
1stPlace - Bill Kueczynski, Erie, PA
2ndPlace – Tim Lyons, North East, PA
3rdPlace – Joe Kostansek, Wateford, PA

Honorable Mention:
Chuck Gehringer, Waterford, PA (3)
Holly Walsh, Guys Mills, PA
Jack Foltyn, McKean, PA (2)
Traci Stewart, Venango, PA
Mary Mulligan-Hanes, Saegertown, PA
Plant Category:
1stPlace – Joe Kostansek, Waterford, PA
2ndPlace – Mary Thall, Jamestown, PA
3rdPlace – Joe Kostansek, Waterford, PA

Honorable Mention:
Carol Mullen, Conneaut Lake, PA
Greg Palmer, Catonsville, MD
Mary Mulligan-Hanes, Saegertown, PA
Landscape Category:
1stPlace – Joe Kostansek, Waterford, PA
2ndPlace – Gregory Palmer, Catonsville, MD
3rdPlace – Mary Thall, Jamestown, PA

Honorable Mention:
Ruth Swaney, Erie, PA
Ron Leberman, Meadville, PA
Joe Kostanek, Waterford, PA
Greg Palmer, Catonsville, MD
All photos will remain on display at the Visitors' Center through November 13.

September 2009

Fighting Fire with Fire

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has turned to the medium that kids love -- video games – to encourage them to go outside and learn about the environment.  Designed for youngsters 8 to 11, the online game, Neighborhood Explorers, is available at the Service’s Let’s Go Outside! Web site, http://www.fws.gov/letsgooutside/. 

Neighborhood Explorers provides an excellent educational opportunity. By participating, kids learn about nature and are encouraged to spend more time outside.  Children can also learn about problems that the environment is facing and ways to help solve the problems.

The journey through the game begins when you meet three children – Mia, Lucy and Steve – who gather in a tree house and talk about all the fun outdoor activities they did over the summer. They form a Neighborhood Explorers Club, called the NX Club, and share information about planting gardens with native plants, backyard bird watching and urban wildlife.  By exploring the tree house with the cursor, kids can learn about endangered species, conservation heroes and threats to the natural world. Then they can play a Jeopardy-like trivia game.  

  Other activities include recording nature sightings in their backyards, a race against time to find a missing praying mantis in the midst of an urban neighborhood, and identifying birds.  At the end of the game, youngsters can receive a gold, silver or bronze patch, depending on points scored. Every game is a fun challenge as well as a valuable educational experience.  Players can also receive patches for documenting environmental projects and local wildlife.    

  When kids earn all five patches, they can receive a free tree from the Arbor Day Foundation. After earning all five patches, youngsters will be directed to the Arbor Day Foundation Web site, where they can provide name and address to get the free tree and directions for planting. Only 450 trees are available.

Google Earth Includes Refuge Boundaries

Google Earth allows users to display high-resolution aerial and satellite imagery of virtually any place on earth – and now the boundaries of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The basic free version of Google Earth includes dozens of data layers with an assortment of mapping information such as roads, geographic pictures, famous places, businesses, 3D buildings and picture galleries. When a layer is turned on, icons appear with links to additional information.

To view the Refuge System, first download the most recent version of Google Earth from http://earth.google.com/index.html and click “download Google Earth 5.0.: To activate the Refuge System boundaries, in the “layers” panel on the bottom left of the screen, scroll down to “places of interest” and click the plus sign (+) to expand the list. Scroll down again to the “parks and recreation areas” and expand this list. Click in the empty box to the left of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Refuge System boundaries are now turned on.

By pressing Ctrl+Alt+C, users can copy a screen image for use in documents or presentations. More advanced options available in the free version of Google Earth include adding customized information, recording a personalized flyby tour, advanced viewing option such as 3D terrain and ocean bathymetry, and adding map plug-ins to Web sites. GPS tracks, including from many Garmin, Magellan, and NMEA-compatible devices, can be uploaded to Google Earth, allowing a user to visualize running, hiking and biking trails.

The Friends of Erie NWR signed onto this letter to the Senate...

NWRA & Nearly 110 Refuge Friends Join in Call for Action to Safeguard Wildlife from Effects of Climate Change

Washington, DC - The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) and nearly 110 refuge Friends volunteer organizations across the country today urged the Senate to pass comprehensive climate change legislation that would reduce greenhouse gasses and dedicate a portion of the future revenue collected to aid wildlife in adapting to climate change. “Climate change represents the greatest threat to America’s wildlife heritage in our generation,” said Evan Hirsche, President of the NWRA. “Congress must act to ensure dedicated funding that will promote resilient and healthy habitats for wildlife in the face of extraordinary changes to the landscape.”

The NWRA and refuge Friends groups joined a broad coalition of more than 600 national, regional, and local conservation, sporting and other organizations representing millions of individuals, in calling on Senators to dedicate at least 5 percent of total “Cap and Trade” allowances from a climate change bill to fund wildlife adaptation conservation efforts. “As wildlife enthusiasts, refuge Friends and volunteers recognize the crucial role that our National Wildlife Refuge System will play in countering the effects of climate change,” said Hirsche.

America’s 550 national wildlife refuges are critically important to protecting wildlife from threats likely to be exacerbated by climate change, such as loss of habitat, sea level rise, invasive species, pathogens, and severe weather events. With expected annual funding through 2030 estimated at $1.9 Billion, wildlife adaptation dollars would provide for large-scale ecosystem restoration projects, invasive species control, land acquisition, wildlife corridors, and nationwide land use planning.

In late June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed historic climate change legislation that included dedicated funding for wildlife adaptation, and NWRA urges the Senate to do the same. To view the group letter, please visit- http://refugeassociation.org/new-pdffiles/ Senate_Climate_Signon.pdf

Annual Meeting Date Set

The date for the Annual Meeting of the Members has been set for Monday, November 16, 2009. The business of electing members to the Board of Directors must be taken care of that night but the main items on the agenda will be food and fellowship. A pot luck supper will be held at 6:00pm. Bring a dish to share and meet and get to know your board members and others in the group.

Hope to see you there!

Awards Reception To Be Held October 11th

The winners of the 12th Biennial Nature Photo Contest will be announced at a reception in their honor to be held Sunday, October 11, at 1:30pm at the Erie Refuge's Headquarters in Guys Mills. Join us for punch and cookies and see some great views of nature. There were 88 entries in this year's contest.

If you can't make it to the reception the photos will remain on display at the Refuge until November 13th. Don't forget to call ahead (814-789-3585) to make sure the building is open before making the trip.

Reception sponsored by the Friends of Erie NWR.

John M. Karian to give Nature Photography Presentation

A program on nature photography will be presented at the Erie National Wildlife Refuge Thursday, October 8th at 7:30pm. Dr. Karian, a well known local nature photographer, will be showing some of his nature photos.

John M. Karian is a native of Venango County and a dedicated nature photographer whose prints and images have been both displayed and published. He enjoys imaging the scenic waterways and wetlands of western Pennsylvania, and is currently working on imaging the underwater perspective of this region.

Refuge Hunt Permits Required

Hunters are no longer issued an individually assigned permit number. You can obtain your free Hunt Brochure/permit from the refuge office. Normal operating hours are 8:00 to 4:30 Monday through Friday – please call in advance to verify. You may also download and print a copy of the Hunt Brochure on the Erie Refuge web site at: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/erie/. The brochure must be signed in the white box on the front page and be on the hunter’s person while hunting on the refuge.

Trapping bids will be accepted until Oct. 14th.

Trappers should call the refuge at 814-789-3585. for bid information.

A Reminder to “Call Ahead”

Fall is here again... the summer RV camper volunteers and summer temporary help at the Erie National Wildlife Refuge have all left for the season. We’re back to our winter compliment of staff and volunteers. Be sure to call ahead if you intend to visit the headquarters and need to talk to a staff member to insure that we’re open.

Also remember that if Penncrest schools are closed due to road conditions, then the refuge is closed as well. In such circumstances all meetings and/or events would be canceled.

August 2009

Kids: Explore Erie National Wildlife Refuge

Erie National Wildlife Refuge in Guys Mills, PA has launched a new activity to connect children with nature. The “Nature Explorer Program” turns children into nature detectives who must complete tasks or answer questions about the refuge. To start, pick up a program booklet and complete at least ten tasks. As they explore the trails and other areas of the refuge children will learn about the plants and animals found there. Once completed, simply mail or bring the booklet to the refuge headquarters to receive an embroidered “Nature Explorer” patch and certificate. To help in their discoveries, the refuge headquarters has books, videos, binoculars, and fishing poles that can be borrowed for the day. Please call ahead to be sure a staff person will be available to help you when you arrive. There is no charge to participate and there is no time limit. The tasks can be completed in one visit or many.

For additional information contact refuge staff at 814-789-3585.

Erie National Wildlife Refuge is located in Guys Mills, PA and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

First Egg in 125 Years

For the first time in more than 125 years, a common guillemot, or murre, hatched an egg on Matinicus Rock, one of 50 islands in the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The egg was found next to a group of decoy murres.

Sadly, the egg was broken and eaten, probably by a gull. But the fact that it showed up at all is significant. “It’s definitely a big deal,” says Brian Benedict, deputy manager of the refuge. “Everything that we’re doing along the coast is trying to maintain the diversity of seabird nesting colonies.”

In the 1800s, these colonial nesting birds were hunted for meat and eggs; the murres were extirpated from the state of Maine by the 1870s. The National Audubon Society’s Seabird Restoration Program and the refuge have been working for 17 years to bring the murres back to the islands by using social attraction systems such as decoys and sound systems. For the past several years, murres have been visiting Matinicus Rock.

Although it is too late for more eggs this season, Steven Kress, director of the National Audubon Society program, says, “This egg gives us great encouragement to step up the attraction program to get this pair and others to nest next summer.”

Seeing Farallon the Only Way You Can

A first-ever Web cam is now providing live images of bird and ocean activity from remote Farallon National Wildlife Refuge, 27 miles off the coast of San Francisco. Farallon Refuge is closed to the public, in part because it hosts the largest seabird colony in the continental United States. Approximately 350,000 seabirds of 13 species breed, along with thousands of seals and sea lions. Gray, blue and humpback whales migrate and feed off the islands along with great white sharks.

The Web cam is the result of a partnership among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Academy of Sciences and PRBO Conservation Science. The solar-powered camera is perched atop a lighthouse on Southeast Farallon Island, one of four island groups in the refuge. The Web cam is hosted on the California Academy of Science site at www.calacademy.org/webcams/farallones.

Rare Bird Fossils May Be 8,000 Years Old

Rare bird fossils have been found during restoration of tidal pools on Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge on the island of O’ahu. Scientists have uncovered fossilized bones of an extinct hawk, long-legged owl, Hawaiian sea eagle, petrel, two species of crow, Hawaiian finches and honeyeaters and a native moa nalo. Earlier findings at similar sites suggest that the bones could be 1,000 to 8,000 years old.

“These fossils give us a glimpse of an earlier time, when the lowlands teemed with native birds, insects and plants,” says Helen James, research zoologist at the Smithsonian Institution, which is providing assistance to identify and catalog the fossils.

In 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began restoring 12 anchialine pools in a section of Pearl Harbor Refuge that was once part of the former Barbers Point Naval Station. Over time, the pools had been filled with rubble, rocks and debris. When the natural tidal fluctuations were restored in the pools, native shrimp quickly recolonized this unique habitat. The restored pools may also attract a species of rare Hawaiian damselfly.

July 2009

“I Love What I Do”
By Greg Siekaniec
Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System

Some weeks ago, I received a letter – handwritten, in pencil – from a youngster in Florida. “To Whom It May Concern” it was addressed, and then went on to say, “I would like to request the free booklet about endangered species and wildlife refuges. I’m extremely interested in wildlife.”

And the letter concluded, “I have also added 25 cents to pay for shipping and handling.” A quarter fell out of the envelope.

I hope that Cassandra’s sentiment is that of America’s youth. I know we’re working hard to interest youngsters in wildlife so they not only engage in wildlife conservation, but they one day also join us in our effort to conserve the wild places we are so passionate about.

Cassandra’s letter arrived just after I returned from an international mission to Russia. There, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues to provide technical assistance. Through its rapidly growing friends movement, Russia is working to motivate its own citizens to become much more engaged in wildlife reserves and environmental issues.

And if those images aren’t enough, let me tell you about Bill Gates – wildlife biologist at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama. He’s working on gray bat recovery in what is almost the epicenter of such work, wearing a hat and hooded rain jacket and being pelted by guano while he gathers samples from Fern, Sauta, Key and Cave Springs Refuges - all Priority 1 caves for gray bat recovery. His friends think he’s crazy for working with bats, but Bill explains, “Recovering a rare species is always rewarding.”

What do all of these images have in common? Dedication, passion, selflessness, an enduring sense of wonder about our natural resources. Sure, all those apply. But there’s one quality – even more – that marks the people who work for, and work with, the National Wildlife Refuge System. That’s an understanding of what’s really important in life.

Some weeks ago, Edwin Drummond – called Drum by all who knew him – retired after 60 years of working at Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. He was 81 when he retired, having lived all of his life on the refuge where his father was on the maintenance staff – a position that Drum took up.

When someone asked him some years ago why he was still working, Drum – never a talkative fellow – put it simply: “I like what I do. And what I do is important.”

Cassandra from Florida knows that. So does Bill Gates at Wheeler Refuge. So does the delegation we met in Russia. Now it’s our job – our mission – to engage our constituents in such a way that they know and feel that what we do is important. I am glad you are joining me in that mission.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Regional Office

Selects Blue Sky for Renewable Energy Commitment

The Pacific Regional Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, located in Portland, Oregon, is purchasing renewable energy through Pacific Power’s award-winning Blue Sky program – taking one more step to avoid global greenhouse gas emissions.

The office will purchase 1,011 blocks of 100 kilowatts each month, about the same amount used by 100 average households. Over 12 months, the commitment avoids putting 739 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and provides the environmental equal of planting 63,000 trees or not driving 1.5 million miles.

Blue Sky renewable energy comes from new wind, biomass and solar projects. These facilities help offset emissions from traditional generation sources and stimulate more investment in new renewable generation facilities.

When customers enroll in Blue Sky, Pacific Power purchases renewable energy credits from regional renewable energy facilities. Electricity produced by renewable energy facilities helps offset electricity generated from nonrenewable sources. Blue Sky was named Green Power Program of the Year in 2007 by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. More than 37,000 customers in the Northwest are part of Blue Sky.

Online Information for Hunters

Where is the closest national wildlife refuge that offers turkey hunting for people with disabilities?

You don’t need to guess - or start phoning individual refuges. A new National Wildlife Refuge System interactive Web site, Your Guide to Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges (http://www.fws.gov/refuges/hunting/), lets hunters search by game species (for example, deer, waterfowl, big game), zip code and special needs or interests (youth, universally accessible) - or any combination of those requirements - to find a refuge that has what they’re after. You can also search by refuge name or state name.

Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on more than 300 national wildlife refuges. Of these, 43 - including Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland and Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona - offer accessible turkey hunting; 97 refuges offer youth hunts.

Refuge hunts are carefully managed to give hunters a quality experience according to four guiding principles: 1) to manage wildlife populations consistent with approved management plans, 2) to promote visitor understanding and appreciation for America’s natural wildlife resources, 3) to provide quality recreational and educational experiences and 4) to minimize conflicts with visitors participating in other wildlife-dependent recreational activities.

The Web site also offers tips to hunters planning to visit a national wildlife refuge, information on archery hunting, and special stories about hunting in Alaska and becoming a more effective waterfowl hunter, among other elements. The Web site also provides information about state hunting licenses.

June 2009

Kathy Dahlkemper Makes Appearance at the Erie Refuge

Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper made an appearance at the Erie National Wildlife Refuge during the Guys Mills Heritage Fest Saturday, June 27th. Ms. Dahlkemper visited many of the activities and took the time to talk to anyone who wanted to meet her before addressing the crowd as a whole.

Later the Congresswoman cut the birthday cake for the Erie Refuge's 50th Anniversary.

Details Announced For Nature Photo Contest

The Erie National Wildlife Refuge's 12th Biennial Nature Photo Contest is taking place now until September 28, 2009. Competition will be held in three major categories: Plant Life, Wildlife and Landscape. First and Second Place winners in each category will receive monetary awards of $50.00 and $25.00 respectively. Third Place winners and Honorable Mentions will receive ribbons. The best student (under 18) photo overall will be presented with a $25.00 cash award and a $75.00 cash award will be given for the best photo taken on the Erie National Wildlife Refuge overall.

Rules of Competition:

  • Entry deadline: Monday, September 28, 2009
  • Must be amateur photographer (make less than half of their living from photography)
  • May enter up to eight (8) photos
  • Entry fee $5.00 per photo - make check payable to Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge and mail or deliver entries to Erie National Wildlife Refuge, 11296 Wood Duck Lane, Guys Mills, PA 16327 (Call office at 814-789-3585 before delivering to verify open hours.)
  • Photos may be digital or film prints in color or black and white
  • Photos must be 8"x10", 9"x12" or 11x14" matted and unframed
  • Must be labeled on back as follows: name, address, telephone, age (if 18 or under), title of photo, entry category and specify if taken on the Refuge
Judging will occur on Sunday, October 11, 2009. The winners will be announced at an Awards Reception at 1:30 p.m. that same day. The photographs will remain on display at the refuge from October 11 through November 13. Entries may be picked up after that date. For more information call refuge staff at 814-789-3585.

Sponsored by the Presque Isle Audubon Society and the Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge, Inc.

House Climate Change Bill Addresses Wildlife/Refuge Needs

Washington, DC - The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) commends the House of Representatives for taking an important step toward helping wildlife adapt to challenges presented by climate change. By dedicating funds for wildlife adaptation, the America's Clean Energy and Security Act will help ensure that national wildlife refuges and other federal and state conservation areas are better prepared to address critical conservation needs.

"The changing climate represents an extraordinary challenge for national wildlife refuges and wildlife," said Evan Hirsche, President of the NWRA. "The America's Clean Energy and Security Act includes valuable tools with which to conserve America's unique wildlife heritage."

In particular, the bill creates a "cap and trade" program on greenhouse gases, which in turn will generate trillions of dollars over time. NWRA supports having 5% of the total funding generated through this market set aside for wildlife adaptation. The House bill sets wildlife adaptation funds initially at 1% with possible increases to 4 or 5% by 2040.

Projects such as large-scale ecosystem restoration projects, invasive species control, land acquisition, wildlife corridors, and nationwide land use planning will help species as their habitats change and their historic ranges are altered. Healthy and resilient ecosystems will be better equipped to cope with the challenges posed by climate change.

"The Refuge System must have increased funding to determine the impacts from climate change and to develop strategies and plans to help species adapt," said Hirsche. "We owe nothing less to future generations of Americans that will depend on healthy ecosystems."

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America's wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge system and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.

CARE Applauds House Appropriations Committee for Proposed Increase in Refuge System Funding

June 19, 2009 (Washington, DC) – The Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE), a coalition of 22 national conservation, sporting and scientific organizations representing over 14 million Americans, applauds the House Appropriations Committee for its proposed increase to the annual budget for the National Wildlife Refuge System for Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10). The Committee's recommendation builds upon the $20 million increase suggested by President Obama for a total $40 million increase for the System.

"This increase represents a crucial investment in America's National Wildlife Refuge System," said Evan Hirsche, chair of CARE. "The System has suffered from funding shortfalls since its creation in 1903; Congress's work in recent years to reverse this trend is making a read difference for wildlife, habitat and people."

This $40 million increase will take the operating budget for the Refuge System to $503 million, translating to roughly $3.35 per acre for the 150 million-acre System. It makes national wildlife refuges one of Congress's leading conservation priorities and builds upon the remarkable increases in FY 2008 and FY 2009. If enacted, this increase will help the Refuge System regain its footing in achieving its core wildlife conservation and public outreach priorities.

"Stretching across 12 time zones, the sun never sets on the Refuge System," said Hirsche. "And neither should our commitment to ensure it receives the resources needed to meet its conservation mission."

Since 1995, the diverse organizations in CARE have consistently called upon Congress to fully fund the National Wildlife Refuge System, currently estimated to be at least $808 million annually, 43% more than currently funded. CARE's request for FY 2010 is $514 million, $11 million less than the current recommendation by the Committee.

The Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) was created in 1995 as a loose coalition of diverse organizations concerned about the ability of our National Wildlife Refuges to fulfill their missions. Members of CARE recognize the inadequacy of existing funds to operate and maintain the National Wildlife Refuge System and the biological, recreational, and economic consequences that this lack of funding has on the Refuge System and its surrounding communities.

NWRA Supports Nomination of Sam Hamilton as Director of Fish & Wildlife Service

Washington, DC - The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) today announced its strong support for President Obama’s intended nomination of Sam D. Hamilton to become the next Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Hamilton, a career federal biologist with over 30 years of experience with the FWS, began his career building fences on national wildlife refuges with the Youth Conservation Corps and is currently the director of the agency’s Southeast Region.

“Hamilton is the right person at the right time,” said Evan Hirsche, President of the NWRA. “In the face of climate change and other challenges to national wildlife refuges and treasured landscapes, it is more important than ever to have a Director who has both the scientific expertise and vision to achieve lasting conservation results.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Hamilton will lead the FWS within the U.S. Department of the Interior - the agency responsible for managing the National Wildlife Refuge System and National Fish Hatchery System, as well as enforcing the Endangered Species Act. As the current Director of the Southeast Region, Hamilton has authority over 128 wildlife refuges throughout the southeastern United States, and has been instrumental in restoring vital habitat in the Everglades. Hamilton has also initiated innovative carbon sequestration projects that have saved approximately 80,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

Throughout his career Hamilton has held many positions within the FWS, including serving as the agency’s state administrator in Texas, where he oversaw implementation of the Endangered Species Act. He is a Mississippi native and graduate of Mississippi State University.

“Sam Hamilton has been a pioneer in innovative strategies to protect and restore wildlife habitat; as Director of FWS, he will have an opportunity to articulate and implement a larger wildlife conservation vision for the nation.” said Hirsche. “We applaud his consideration by President Obama and are eager to work with him to further the goals and mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System while strengthening the lands and waters beyond their boundaries.”

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve Americas wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.

May 2009

Snap a Memory on a Wildlife Refuge

This summer, create memories by taking your camera to a national wildlife refuge and then share them on an online Photomosaic, created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Let’s Go Outside” initiative. After compiling nearly 10,000 photographs sent by the public, the Photomosaic of an outdoor image to be revealed at summer’s end and then made into a commemorative poster.  

All digital photos submitted will be included in the Photomosaic – a picture that has been divided into equally sized sections, each of which is replaced with a photograph.  When viewed at a distance, the Photomosiac appears as one complete image, while close examination reveals it as a composition of thousands of smaller images.  Visitors to the “Let’s Go Outside” Web site will be able to watch the Photomosaic being built and locate their own images by using a unique code number.  

Submissions for the Photomosaic will be accepted from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  To submit digital photos and learn about other activities in nature, visit http://www.fws.gov/letsgooutside/. “Let’s Go Outside” strives to promote environmental awareness while reconnecting Americans with nature.

What if a Bird Sings and No One Hears It?
by Sam Hamilton  

Birds are a national treasure, one shared with neighboring countries well beyond our own continent. Nearly 1,000 different kinds of wild birds call the United States their home at some part of the year. Sadly, 74 of those species are considered endangered or threatened, and nearly 150 have been named "Birds of Conservation Concern" due to their small distribution, declining populations, or the high threats they face.  

There are short-term conservation advances to celebrate as the State of the Birds report for the United States demonstrates that strategic land protection and management can and has reversed declines of certain bird groups such as ducks and geese. Thanks to the environmental movement spurred by Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, devastating chemicals like DDT were banned allowing bird songs to continue ushering in the promise of spring.  

Now we are dealing with a new, more insidious problem that is threatening public support for successful bird conservation programs. While new generations of birds still sing, younger generations of Americans may not stop to listen or even care.  

Our planet is home to the most technologically connected generation in the history of the world, yet they are increasingly disconnected from the rhythms of nature. They are connected to the Internet, text messages, and 300 TV and cable channels, but disengaged from the natural rhythms of the world around them. Growing up not on farms, but coming of age in exurbs, suburbs, and cities, our youngest Americans are attuned to modern distractions unimaginable a generation ago.  

Today, diversions are inescapable and overwhelming. Devices like iPods and iPhones allow us to access sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace, keeping us glued to technology and precluding our gaze out the window, down the stream, or across a meadow to appreciate and better understand the natural world.  

But as evidenced by their turnout in the last national election, this highly-connected generation can rally together and move in one direction with speed and efficiency. Culturally relevant and economically powerful, this group of 18- to 30-year-olds has a proven ability to influence national movements and affect the direction of our nation in a profound way. If this generation can become more aware of and concerned with loss of birds, other wildlife, and their habitats, perhaps literal mountains may not be moved, but large swaths of critical native landscapes could be saved and properly managed.  

The benefits to both wild birds and connected people would truly be something to tweet and Twitter about.  

Sam Hamilton is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Regional Director and based in Atlanta.

Members to Lead Nature Walks on May 16th

At 9:00am on May 16th Rich Eakin will lead a Bird Walk on the Tsuga Nature Trail located next to the Erie National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters building in Guys Mills. Later that afternoon at 2:00pm Karlin Marsh will lead a Wildflower Walk. This is a family activity. Be prepared to walk 1 and 1/2 miles on the trail and dress for the weather. Guide books are nice, but not required.

Call the Refuge office at 814/789-3585 for more information.

Take Your Birding to the Next Level with “Inside Birding”

It’s May, perhaps bird watching’s biggest month, as millions of birds return from the tropics, filling the Northern Hemisphere with summer’s full array of birds. It’s a great time to go bird watching, and Chris Wood and Jessie Barry from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are inviting you to go out with them—in a new free series of web videos, “Inside Birding.”

Jessie and Chris share their tips, tools, and techniques for identifying birds with confidence—whether you’re new to birding or seeking to hone your skills. In the first four episodes, learn the secrets of the “four keys” to bird identification. Join Chris and Jessie in the field as they practice using size and shape to identify common birds. Learn how to use color pattern and behavior for critical clues about a bird’s identity. And travel with Chris and Jessie to the swamps of Florida as they explain the importance of habitat when you’re looking for birds.

After watching the videos, explore the rest of the newly redesigned All About Birds website. It’s packed with stunning images and information about every aspect of birding. Enhance your bird knowledge by visiting our popular Bird Guide, with more than 500 species profiles, new photo ID tools, cool facts, sounds, and video. Peruse the Living Bird section for articles about travel, science, and conservation. Practice using the four keys to identification or sharpen your knowledge about Songs and Calls in the Building Skills section. Check out the Multimedia theater to watch videos about birds from the Arctic, coasts, and grasslands—or learn more about attracting birds right to your own yard.

We hope you’ll bookmark your favorite pages and visit often. Enjoy the birds!

Your friends at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

All About Birds: Free Bird Guide and More

All About Birds: Free Bird Guide and More

Refuge Association Launches 4th Annual Refuge Photo Contest

Washington, DC - The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) announces its 4th annual digital photo contest showcasing America's national wildlife refuges. Entries for the 2009 Refuge Photo Contest can be submitted until July 15, 2009 with results to be announced in October 2009 in connection with Refuge Week.

"Images are critical to telling the Refuge System story," said Evan Hirsche, president of NWRA. "We know that there are terrific amateur and professional photographers capturing images throughout the System. This is an opportunity for avid photographers to show their work to a broader audience and to help capture the essence of our remarkable wildlife refuges."

The National Wildlife Refuge System, comprised of 549 refuges throughout the nation, protects both rare and common types of habitat - everything from southwest desert to arctic tundra. Images submitted for the photo contest can be of birds, mammals, insects, fish, other animals, plants, people, or simply shots of refuge scenery.

This year, ATP Oil and Gas, Inc. has generously donated the $5,000 first place cash prize. Other prizes include two round trip tickets courtesy of Southwest Airlines, and offerings from Barbara's Bakery, Wild Bird Centers of America and Houghton Mifflin.

In addition, the winners' images will be highlighted on NWRA's website and future publications. At least 200 images will be selected for inclusion in the NWRA Refuge Image Library and every photographer submitting an entry will receive a complimentary one-year membership in the National Wildlife Refuge Association.

For photo contest details, requirements, and procedures, please visit: http://www.refugeassociation.org/contest/ContestHome.html.

April 2009

It’s Photo Contest Time Again

2009 is the year for the Erie National Wildlife Refuge’s Biennial Photo Contest. Details of the contest are still being fine tuned but keep a look out for an announcement this summer. Get those cameras out and warmed up for this event!

Let's Go Outside!

The Service's Let's Go Outside Website was update this past Friday. Take a look at the fresh information at: http://www.fws.gov/letsgooutside/.

Also, the launch of the Memorial Day Let's Go Outside Campaign, "Creating Memories in Nature" is on May 15th. The big "splash" is the photo mosaic opportunity available to the public. People will be able to upload their own nature and outdoor photos to be part of the larger photo mosaic. There will also be information available on taking digital photography and taking photos in nature.

March 2009

Poster Contest Winners Announced

The winners of the Erie National Wildlife Refuge's 50th Anniversary Poster Contest were announced at a reception held March 1st at the Refuge Headquarters. And the winners are:

Kindergarten - 3rd Grade: Vienna Schmuker, Guys Mills
4th - 6th Grade: Travis Brubaker, Guys Mills
7th - 8th Grade: Jordan Lehman, Guys Mills
10th - 12th Grade: Brenna Thummler, Meadville

Go here to see the winning posters on the Erie National Wildlife Refuge web site.
Go here to see a video of the winners being announced at the reception.

Each winner received a certificate, a ribbon and a $25.00 cash prize. Their framed artwork will remain on display at the Visitor's Center. All participants received a certificate and all the entries are on display at the Refuge throughout March.

Thank you to all the young artists who sent in posters. Your talents are greatly appreciated.

The 50th Anniversary Poster Contest was sponsored by The US Fish & Wildlife Service and Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge.

Note Cards Available

Note card featuring the winning 50th Anniversary posters are available. They are sold in packages of four, one of each design, for $5.00 a packet. They are available at the refuge or visit us during the Guys Mills Heritage Fest.

The Great Sunflower Project

While most persons have heard about Colony Collapse Disorder in honey bees, few realize that all of our pollinators, butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, wasps, and native bees may also be in decline. Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University has created a citizen science project to study the population of bees in North America. The Great Sunflower Project uses a native annual plant, the sunflower, to attract bees. Citizens simply plant sunflowers and twice monthly record the time it takes five bees to visit a blooming flower. If no bees arrive in 30 minutes, the observation time is finished. While data from any kind of sunflower may be submitted, The Great Sunflower Project is giving small packets of the variety ‘Lemon Queen’ to participants to reduce variables in the experiment. 'Lemon Queen' grows five feet tall with 4-5" blossoms of clear yellow petals around a dark chocolate center and is just right for flower beds & even containers. Teachers may request additional seeds or purchase their own locally. For participants who are able, distinguishing among five different kinds of bees will give even more information to the project. The bee categories are simple: honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees, green metallic bees, and “other” bees. All data is submitted on-line or by mail.

This is a very well-planned project and it has received high praise from Sigma Xi, an honor society for science researchers. The Great Sunflower Project can be completed by anyone and everyone. Pollinators, especially bees, are essential to our food supply. Bees are responsible for every third bite of food.

Please visit this website for more information: http://www.greatsunflower.org/

Mary Jo R. Gibson
Penn State Master Gardener
Columbia County

February 2009

Guys Mills Heritage Fest 2009 Update

A second planning meeting for the 2009 Guys Mills Heritage Fest was held on February 2nd. Representatives from the United Evangelical Free Church, Faith Builders Christian School, Erie NWR and the Friends group attended. Many of the activities at these locations will be the same as last year but changes are planed as well. The Randolph Fire Department and Township Supervisors, when contacted, also expressed a desire to participate again. For more information on activities keep checking our Festival page.

The Heritage Fest is very important to the Erie Refuge because it helps draw more people to Guys Mills on that day and, in turn, to the Refuge's Open House. While many of our members pitch in to help man stations on the Refuge, more help with the planning and organizing is always needed. Of particular need right now is someone to organize the activities at the township building and grounds. If you think you could help Patty out with this task, call 814-789-3585.

June 27, 2009 is the date of this year's Heritage Fest. Be sure to mark that date on your calendar now.

As I Take the Helm

By Greg Siekaniec
Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System

The National Wildlife Refuge System has changed a great deal since I last served eight years ago as deputy chief in the Washington Office. At the end of 2000, we had 530 national wildlife refuges, having established, among others, Big Oaks Refuge in Indiana and the then 66-acre Northern Tallgrass Prairie Refuge in my home state of Minnesota. Today, we have 550 units within the Refuge System.

In 1999, while I was still deputy chief of the Refuge System, an Assistant Director of the Division of Refuges and Wildlife not only oversaw refuges and realty, but also directed other programs, including the Fish and Wildlife Service’s law enforcement, Office of Migratory Bird Management and Duck Stamps. Now, the Refuge System is a stand-alone program within the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Times have changed.

Not only does the National Wildlife Refuge System have an Assistant Director now – a position I am honored to occupy -- but we have 550 units of the Refuge System, plus 37 Wetland Management Districts, together spanning more than 150 million acres. Those acres include the recently-established Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, now managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

We have more than 200 Refuge Friends organizations. The National Friends conference to be held in late February will be the largest we’ve ever hosted, with about 500 people in Washington, DC, to show their support for the world’s most important network of public lands devoted to wildlife and wildland conservation. The Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) continues to urge Congress to provide the Refuge System with $1 billion for green jobs as part of the nation’s economic stimulus package.

In the midst of all of this – and so much more – I have been given the privilege of serving as Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

That’s far more than I dreamed of when I was growing up in Minnesota on the boundary of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. That’s a great deal more than I imagined 24 years ago when I started my career as a refuge clerk at J. Clark Salyer Refuge, named for a man who may have been the greatest Refuge System Chief in our history.

There is a steep learning curve inherent in any new position, and I have begun to move up that curve. One of our most pressing challenges is to plan our conservation strategies in the face of climate change. Others include funding for a Refuge System with growing responsibilities; strategic habitat conservation with partners who can help us ensure the long-term health of our precious resources; engaging our supporters in helping a new generation learn the joys of the outdoors; and enhancing leadership development for a workforce that too often is asked to do more with less.

For now, I am humbled to become even a small part of a Fish and Wildlife Service’s history. I am energized by the millions of people who know that wildlife refuges are some of the best places to learn an appreciation of the natural resources that are the very foundation of our nation’s greatness. And I hope to see you soon on a national wildlife refuge.

Refuges Host More Visitors

National Wildlife Refuges hosted 41 million visitors in 2008, up from 33 million visitors a decade earlier. Oregon recorded the most visitors at 3.9 million. Rounding out the top 10 list were Florida, California, North Carolina, Iowa, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, Alaska and Minnesota.

Refuges offer opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, education and interpretation. Check the Special Events Calendar or find a national wildlife refuge near your home for outstanding activities and programs.

January 2009

Winners of the 50th Anniversary Poster Contest to be announced March 1st

Nearly 100 posters were submitted to the Erie Refuge's 50th Anniversary Poster Contest. Students from around the area did a great job and picking just one winner from each grade category was not easy, but last Tuesday members of the board of directors got together to judge the entries. The winners will be announced at a reception to be held March 1st at 2:00pm at the Refuge headquarters building.

All the entries will be on display at the Erie Refuge throughout the month of March. Try to get to there sometime during the month to take a look. You will not be disappointed.

New Blog...

Forests, Fields and Water
Inside Erie National Wildlife Refuge

This blog was created by and is managed by a board member of Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge but is independent of that organization and of the refuge itself. The goal is to bring additional public awareness to the wonderful educational and recreational opportunities the refuge has to offer. The blog is named "Forest, Fields and Water" after the 3 main habitats that are found at the refuge.

Forests, Fields and Water can be found at: http://fenwr.wordpress.com

Information is needed. Please send photos or stories, bird sightings or anything of interest in regard to the refuge and a post will be created. Please include the "where and when" of the information and whether you would like to be credited for the information. Contact for this blog is: afenwr@gmail.com

New Refuge System Chief

Greg Siekaniec, a 24-year veteran of the National Wildlife Refuge System, has been named the new Assistant Director for the Refuge System by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall. Just before taking the helm of the Refuge System, Siekaniec spent eight years as the refuge manager of Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, one of the Refuge System’s most remote and far flung units. Alaska Maritime Refuge encompasses more than 2,500 islands and nearly five million acres.

Among his many achievements at Alaska Maritime Refuge, Siekaniec is credited with developing a host of restoration partnerships with national conservation organizations to restore island biodiversity and ridding islands of destructive invasive species – foxes and rats – that had nearly eradicated native seabirds and other wildlife. Alaska Maritime Refuge provides nesting habitat for approximately 40 million seabirds, about 80 percent of Alaska's nesting seabird population.

Siekaniec started his career at J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge as a refuge clerk and moved up into management positions in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming in addition to Alaska. He served as deputy chief of the Refuge System before taking over leadership at Alaska Maritime Refuge in 2001.

Through a varied career with the Fish and Wildlife Service – always working in the Refuge System – Siekaniec has gained experience with small to large construction projects, large-scale habitat restoration, law enforcement, wetland management, environmental cleanup, land acquisitions, establishing new refuges, and sensitive wilderness stewardship issues.

Siekaniec earned a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from the University of Montana. He completed the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program in 2008, the same year that he completed the Senior Executive Fellows Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Siekaniec and his wife, Janelle, and their two children credit his work with the Fish and Wildlife Service for the opportunities to live a rural subsistence lifestyle and, at other times, be immersed in an urban area with a rapidly growing population. “The varied cultural and geographic experiences have led us to firmly embrace the importance of conservation partnerships,” said Siekaniec. “Whether acquiring lands for the Refuge System or working to remove Norway rats from a seabird island, it’s all about working together and maintaining relationships.”

During their years in Alaska, the Siekaniec family could often be seen fishing the Kenai River, hiking and camping across the state, and hunting from the end of the Alaska Peninsula to the northern Brooks Range.

Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge Boundary Established

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved on December 23, 2008, establishment of Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Pennsylvania. The refuge boundary encompasses 20,466 acres in Monroe and Northampton counties, within which the Service may begin acquiring nationally significant habitat for wildlife as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge will encompass rare ecosystems and several plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. Cherry Creek, in the bottom of the valley, flows into the Delaware River. Following the creek’s path, Kittatinny Ridge is a major avenue for migrating birds and bats.

The Service had begun to work with partners and landowners within the refuge boundary to identify opportunities to acquire lands through easements and fee title. A number of organizations, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service, among others, already protect a significant amount of land within and near the new refuge boundary.

The Service’s action culminated a movement begun in 2005 when Representatives Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-D-11th) and Charles W. Dent (PA-R-15th) co-sponsored a bill to consider a prospective national wildlife refuge within Cherry Valley. The legislation was in response to a petition endorsed by community leaders and local elected officials in Monroe County. The 109th Congress approved the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge Study Act in 2006. The study and an environmental assessment required under the National Environmental Policy Act were completed in December 2008, and the Service’s Northeast Region recommended establishment of the refuge boundary.


The Ripley Hawk Watch (RHW) is a spring hawk watch located on the south shore of Lake Erie, about 60 miles southwest of Buffalo, NY. The RHW is an affiliate of the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA), and, along with hundreds of other raptor observatories in North America, the RHW provides HMANA with field data used for understanding continent-wide population trends among raptors.

Daily and hourly weather conditions dictate which of the five main watch sites, located between the lakeshore and the top of the escarpment, are manned. Within this three mile range, the elevation rises from 630 to 1,084 feet above mean sea level and there can be considerable variation in weather, particularly with regard to fog and wind. With sufficient manpower and the use of mobile radios several sites may be worked at once.

The RHW was manned by volunteers for over 323 hours in 2008, a 10-hour increase over the previous year. All counters and observers at the RHW are volunteers, dedicated hawk watchers who generously volunteer their time and fiscal support for the RHW’s many amenities (two portable toilets). The principal counters, observers and volunteers included Gil Randell, Len DeFrancisco, Mel Freeborough, Terry Mahoney, Jann Randell, Mike Ceci, Bill Dietz, Tom Simmons, Jill and Berk Adams, Bill and Eileen Jowett and Tom Wasilewski. Holmes County, Ohio birders, Ed Schlabach, Leroy Yoder and Bruce Glick, who are developing a new hawk watch site in Conneaut, Ohio, alerted the volunteers at the RHW to any imminent Broad-winged Hawk flights.

This spring the RHW streamlined its weather data collection with the purchase of a Kestrel 4500 Pocket Weather Tracker which replaced a Davis Instrument Vantage Pro Wireless Weather Station, which had been in use since 2004. On-site weather observations are supplemented on occasion with NOAA data from weather radios provided by the Roger Tory Peter Institute that provide information about approaching weather systems.

The 2008 watch officially opened on March 15th to fog and snow cover, the snow persisting through March. Ice cover on Lake Erie was also extensive during March, although open leads could be observed on some days. The month was cold, but weather closed the watch for only two days and this due to rain. On the few sunny March days, light bouncing off the snow brilliantly lit the migrating raptors from below, making them appear illuminated from within.

April brought more than our usual share of sunny (but cool) weather, although rain or dense fog closed the watch on three separate days. Despite the sunny weather, Lake Erie was not ice free at our location until the 12th of April.

May proved to be another beautiful spring month, again with an unusual amount of sunshine and at least several days of southerly winds, although the watch closed May 12th because of a cold rain. The watch ended on May 15th after several days of ideal conditions but few migrants.

The RHW had a robust count of 22,491 raptors and vultures, including a record 12,144 Turkey Vultures. No other site records were set, but two successive days saw a total of 75 Ospreys with a nice count for the year of 203 Ospreys. The 2008 Osprey numbers represented an increase of 75% over last year’s count of 116, although last year’s Osprey numbers were rather low.

Migrating American Bald Eagles totaled 94, an increase of 12 from 2007 numbers, a 15% increase but shy of the record set in 2006 (114). The RHW recorded 55 sightings of non-migrant bald eagles over 26 separate days, for a total season count of 149 bald eagle sightings.

Northern Harrier numbers increased nicely for the second year in a row. This year’s total (259) was a 13% increase over the 2007 count (230) and a 28% increase over the 2006 count.

The Sharp-shinned Hawk count (1,399) represents a 14% increase over 2007 numbers (1,229), which were disappointingly low. Sharp-shinned numbers for 2008 fail, however, to reverse decreasing numbers at the site, with 2008 numbers at 19% below 2003 totals (1,735). Cooper’s Hawk numbers (90), although up 11% from 2007 counts (81), still are down 17% from 2006 numbers (109).

Red-shouldered Hawks (189) increased 7% over 2007 (176), the second consecutive annual increase. The big Red-shouldered Hawk day was March 30 th when the RHW counted 53 birds of this species. The 2008 Broad-winged Hawk numbers (6,592), although a slight increase (5%) over 2007 totals (6,271) continue low compared to recent years. The big day for Broad-winged Hawks in 2008 was April 19th when 2,650 birds were seen, with nice numbers almost every day from April 16th through April 27th . The big day in 2007 was on April 23rd when 4,322 broadwings were recorded.

The Red-tailed Hawk count (1,190) was a nice rebound from very low numbers in 2007 (788), a 51% increase over last year and a l2% increase over 2006 numbers (1,066).

The Rough-legged count of 15 was consistent with last year’s count of 12 but down considerably from 2004 numbers (41). This year’s very modest numbers of Golden Eagles, Merlins, Northern Goshawks and Peregrine Falcons were consistent with the counts of recent years.

American Kestrel observations numbered 238 this year; although a nice bounce over last year’s disappointing count (179), this still represents a 34% decrease from 2003 numbers (359).

The RHW observed a number of non-raptor species also, sometimes in dramatic numbers. On March 31, mixed flocks of blackbirds, starlings and grackles flew over our Lake Erie site, averaging nearly 10,000 birds per hour for over three hours. On several days, counters observed thousands of migrating blue jays. Numbers of Sandhill Cranes rebounded nicely from last year’s low numbers, with 30 being seen over 12 different days. The RHW also continues to be a good sight for observing migrating loons. Other birds of note included over 70 tundra swans, several trumpeter swans and a nice variety of warblers.

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