Jack Rabbit, Texas-Photo Credit Chase Fountain

Burrowing Owl, Nevada - Photo Credit Tim Torrell

Eyed Trout Eggs, Tonto Creek Hatchery AZ - Photo Credit George Andrejko

Humpback Whales, Orca, Alaska - Photo Credit Sandstrom, Riley Woodford

 
 
 

News

 
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Nov 11

ON THE HORIZON- News From WAFWA November 2019: Issue 20

Protecting native fish, western Monarch butterflies & a WAFWA administrative update. Find out about the latest efforts to conserve the lands, waters and wildlife in the West.


Nov 05

Western Native Trout Initiative Receives $190K Grant from Resources Legacy ...

Resources Legacy Fund is partnering again with the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) through the Open Rivers Fund to execute an ambitious watershed-scale restoration effort in the Warner Basin in southeast Oregon. The partnership will benefit several fish species of concern in the Warner Lakes, recreational fishing, and ranchers who divert water for irrigation.
 
Fish that will be conserved as part of this effort include the Warner Lakes Redband trout which is a state sensitive and federal species of concern, and also the Warner sucker, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The partnership will ultimately fund ten restoration projects over seven years to open 38 stream miles in the Warner Basin by 2025. This year’s grant of $190,000 will support the first four projects in the portfolio. 
 
Funds from this grant will be used to complete engineering design plans to replace two diversion dams and two concrete structures to provide fish passage at four sites on Deep Creek.  Activities supported by this first phase will open 31 river miles, restore stream and riverine habitat, reduce bank erosion and sedimentation, improve water supply reliability and reduce operation and maintenance costs for landowners by removing aging infrastructure. 
 
“We are excited for our continued partnership with the Western Native Trout Initiative in showcasing the effectiveness of updating in-stream infrastructure giving landowners better irrigation while also reconnecting rivers for fish,” said Shara Sparks, Program Manager at Resources Legacy Fund.  “We are proud to continue supporting this important work, which is part of a larger portfolio of projects in our Open Rivers Fund, restoring rivers throughout the West.”
 
Limited water in the eastern Oregon desert means that Warner Basin streams are a critical water source for fish, wildlife, and humans. Honey Creek and Deep Creek provide both irrigation water critical to local ranches and habitat for Warner sucker, Warner Lakes Redband Trout,other native fishes, and migrating birds. The low-lying portion of the Warner Basin provides the most fertile agricultural land in the area, as well as stream reaches critical to fish migrating from large lakes in the valley upstream to high-quality spawning and rearing habitats. Multiple irrigation diversion structures and other barriers fragment the watershed.  
 
“We are thrilled to continue the collaboration between WNTI and Resources Legacy Fund and begin a new partnership to benefit native fish, landowners, and recreationists in the Warner Basin,” said WNTI Coordinator Therese Thompson. “We are grateful to the Warner Basin Habitat Partnership and all of our local partners for their vision and in creating the plan to make this important work possible. Landscape-scale recovery efforts are complex and require collaboration from committed partners in both the public and private sectors.”
 
Other partners in the project include the Lake County Umbrella Watershed Council, Lakeview Soil and Water Conservation District, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, River Design Group, and Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board on the project.  
 
This project is part of the  Open Rivers Fund, a 10-year, $50 million program of Resources Legacy Fund, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It supports local community efforts to remove obsolete dams, modernize infrastructure, and restore rivers across the West. Resources Legacy Fund works with donors to create significant outcomes for the environment and for people.
 
WNTI is a program of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and a recognized National Fish Habitat Partnership that works to cooperatively restore and recover 21 western native trout and char species and sub-species across their historic range. The program funds efforts that raise awareness of the importance of native trout and focus limited financial and human resources toward the highest-impact, locally-led, on-the-ground projects. Since its inception in 2006, WNTI has directed more than $35 million in federal, public and private funds to support 147 priority native trout conservation projects. WNTI and partners have removed 96 barriers to fish passage, reconnected or improved 1,199 miles of native trout habitat, and put in place 35 protective fish barriers to conserve important native trout populations.
 
WAFWA news releases available at www.wafwa.org/news/
 
Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 24 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.
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Sep 16

Grants Benefiting Native Trout Watersheds Awarded in Six Western States

The Western Native Trout Initiative (WTNI) is awarding more than $200,000 in grant funding for eight projects benefiting native trout species across the West. 


Aug 20

ON THE HORIZON- News From WAFWA August 2019: Issue 19

Western Native Trout Initiative (WTNI) receives $432K grant from the Resource Legacy Fund to further restoration projects in the Northwest and much more in this month's newsletter. 


Aug 13

WNTI Receives $432K Grant from Resources Legacy Fund

Resources Legacy Fund is once again partnering with the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) through the Open Rivers Fund to reconnect parts of the Upper Bear River in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. The continued partnership will benefit Bonneville cutthroat trout, recreational fishing, and ranchers who divert water for irrigation. The partnership will ultimately fund ten restoration projects that will remove nine diversion dams, four additional barriers and restore stream and riparian habitat. This year’s grant of $432,000 is the second grant received by WNTI since last summer.

                                   

The projects funded through the Open Rivers Fund are expected to be completed by September 2020. The Open Rivers Fund is a 10-year, $50 million program of Resources Legacy Fund, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It supports local community efforts to remove obsolete dams, modernize infrastructure, and restore rivers across the West. Resources Legacy Fund works with donors to create significant outcomes for the environment and for people.

 

Funds from this year’s $432,000 grant will be used to replace two diversion dams, a perched culvert, and engineering assessments to remove a large concrete dam and two additional rock dams from six sites in the Upper Bear River basin. Activities supported by the grant will open an additional 47.35 river miles, restore over 3,500 feet of stream and riverine habitat, reduce bank erosion and sedimentation, eliminate entrainment of fish, and provide engineering assessments for two critical projects to remove aging infrastructure. WNTI’s on the ground partners for the 2019 projects are Wyoming Game and Fish Department, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Trout Unlimited.

 

“Resources Legacy Fund’s partnership with the Western Native Trout Initiative proves it is possible to give landowners better irrigation while reconnecting rivers for fish,” said Julie Turrini, the Director of Lands, Rivers, and Communities at Resources Legacy Fund who oversees the Open Rivers Fund. “We are proud to continue to support this important work.”

 

Multiple irrigation diversion structures and other barriers fragment the Upper Bear River drainage, which spans Northern Utah, Southeast Idaho, and Southwest Wyoming.  WNTI is working with many partners to remove and replace aging infrastructure in order to protect Bonneville cutthroat trout strongholds, restore habitat connectivity, and open up access to high-quality upstream habitats and cold, clean water on both public and private lands.

 

“We are thrilled to continue the collaboration between WNTI and Resources Legacy Fund to benefit native fish, landowners, and recreationists in the Upper Bear River drainage,” said WNTI Coordinator Therese Thompson. “We completed the projects funded by the Open Rivers Fund last year and these new projects build upon those successes. These landscape-scale recovery efforts are complex and require collaboration from committed partners in both the public and private sectors.”

 

WNTI is a program of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and a recognized National Fish Habitat Partnership that works to cooperatively restore and recover 21 western native trout and char species and sub-species across their historic range. The program funds efforts that raise awareness of the importance of native trout and focus limited financial and human resources toward the highest-impact, locally-led, on-the-ground projects.  Since its inception in 2006, WNTI has directed more than $35 million in federal, public and private funds to support 147 priority native trout conservation projects. WNTI and partners have removed 96 barriers to fish passage, reconnected or improved 1,199 miles of native trout habitat, and put in place 35 protective fish barriers to conserve important native trout populations.

 

WAFWA news releases available at http://www.wafwa.org/news/

Photo Credit: Tyler Coleman

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 24 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.


Aug 05

Grants Benefiting Native Trout Awarded in Six Western States

The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) has awarded $19,750 out of its small grant program for five projects in six states, which will be matched by $115,800 in other public and private funding. More than $135,550 in conservation efforts benefitting western native trout will occur as a result.

“We’re very grateful to our partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rocky Mountain Flyathlon, RepYourWater, Basin+Bend, California Fly Fishers Unlimited, Sierra Pacific Fly Fishers, and all our individual donors for supporting our 2019 Small Grants Program,” said Therese Thompson, WNTI Project Coordinator. “The community-based projects were selected because of their emphasis on citizen science and outreach to help address challenges facing the restoration and recovery of western native trout.”

Project summaries:

 

Alaska: Going to Extremes: Exploring the Northern Extent of Alaskan Trout Species                           $4,750

Applicant: Copper River Watershed Project

 

This project will implement up to five field trips for 75 local students in the region to learn more about native trout species ecology and biology, in particular Coastal Cutthroat Trout on the Copper River Delta and rainbow trout in the upper Copper Basin (additional species include Dolly Varden, Arctic Grayling, and other salmonids).

 

 

California: West Hills College Coalinga Citizen & Undergraduate Science Project                                  $5,000

Applicant: West Hills College Coalinga

 

This project educates 141 students and citizens on Coastal Cutthroat Trout through guided undergraduate level research and delivery of findings at a conference.  This project is supported by

a comprehensive network of collaborators including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Park Service, and the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative.

 

Colorado: The Greenback Cutthroat Trout Exhibit                                                                                              $2,500

Applicant: Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers

 

Bear Creek Nature Center will add a new interpretive panel to the existing Greenback Cutthroat Trout exhibit that will address recent public questions to help better educate the public about this threatened species.

 

 

Montana/Wyoming: Yellowstone Fly Fishing Volunteer Program                                                                $5,000

Applicant: Yellowstone Forever Foundation

 

The objective of the Yellowstone Fly Fishing Volunteers Program is to engage volunteer anglers in collecting biologist data on Yellowstone’s Arctic Grayling, Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout fish populations to support the research and management efforts of the Yellowstone fisheries staff.

 

New Mexico: Willow Creek Habitat Monitoring                                                                                                  $2,500 Applicant: Gila/Rio Grande Chapter of Trout Unlimited and James Brooks

 

Grant funds support volunteer and undergraduate student training and sampling efforts that support two previous WNTI funded projects on Willow Creek in the Gila National Forest, to benefit Gila Trout after the 2012 Whitewater-Baldy wildfire.

 

The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) is a program of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and a nationally recognized partnership under the National Fish Habitat Partnership program that works cooperatively across 12 Western states to conserve (protect, restore, and recover) 21 native trout and char species across their historic range. Since its inception in 2006, WNTI has directed more than $35 million in federal, public and private funds to support 147 priority native trout conservation projects. WNTI and partners have removed 96 barriers to fish passage, reconnected or improved 1,199 miles of native trout habitat, and put in place 35 protective fish barriers to conserve important native trout populations.

 

For more information about the Small Grants Program, visit www.westernnativetrout.org

WAFWA news releases available at http://www.wafwa.org/news/

 

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 24 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.


Aug 01

2018 Annual Report

An annual report looking at the milestones WAFWA made in 2018, and where we are headed this year. 


Jul 30

People of the Sage: San Stiver

When it comes to the “People of the Sage,” there is a name that comes up often, no matter who you talk to or which conservation challenge you’re talking about: San Stiver.


Jul 20

News from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources: DWR Director Mike Fowlks...

During the recent annual Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies conference held in Manhattan, Kansas, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Director Mike Fowlks was voted as the president of the organization.

 

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) was started in the 1920s as a way for the various wildlife agencies to coordinate and support each other. The organization has an annual conference each year, and at this year’s meeting, several new bylaws, a new strategic plan and the new leadership was voted on in Tuesday’s meeting.

 

“It was humbling for me to see that the western directors have confidence in my ability to move WAFWA into a new direction,” Fowlks said. “I look forward to taking the governance of WAFWA to a higher level and making it a more efficient and effective organization.” 

 

Fowlks will serve as the president for one year until the elections take place during next year’s conference. As president, he oversees and creates new committees within the organization and nominates the chairperson for each committee. 

 

During the conference, Fowlks also became the director sponsor for the Mule Deer Working Group.

 

What is the Mule Deer Working Group?

 

The Mule Deer Working Group was started by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in 1997. It consists of mule deer and black-tailed deer biologists and experts from wildlife agencies in 19 states located in the western U.S. as well as three western Canadian provinces and two territories. Each agency has one representative in the group, and the group meets twice each year in various locations across the U.S. and Canada. 

 

What does the group do and why is it important?

 

The organization was created for wildlife agencies in western North America to collaborate on  the conservation and management of mule deer and black-tailed deer.

 

“It is important for biologists to talk to each other because we all have a lot of common issues that we face in our different areas, and we often have common goals,” Jim Heffelfinger, Mule Deer Working Group chair and Arizona Game and Fish Department wildlife science coordinator, said. “When we start asking around to different agencies, we find out that others are frequently working to address the same issues, so by collaborating, we are more efficient and successful.”

 

The group publishes informational documents and guidelines  each year on mule deer management, habitat conservation, and successful management practices. Recently, the group teamed up with wildlife veterinarians to author a report about Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal contagious neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose. 

 

During this week’s Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies conference, the group announced that it will be writing a comprehensive book about mule deer, something that hasn’t happened in nearly four decades. It also worked on five new fact sheets on various topics including historical and current deer populations and determining the age of mule deer. 

 

“It’s a privilege to be the director sponsor of the Mule Deer Working Group because of the fantastic work that they do,” Fowlks said. “The working group’s efforts increase our collective knowledge of what mule deer need to thrive, it helps us identify threats to mule deer populations in Utah and the West, and it helps us understand how to mitigate those factors. By collaborating with other wildlife professionals, our ability to manage for healthy, robust populations of mule deer in Utah and all over the western part of North America increases.”

 

As the director sponsor of the group, Fowlks will provide guidance and ensure the group is meeting the needs of the various wildlife agencies.

 

The group is also currently working with several federal land management agencies to identify important winter range and migration routes for deer, so they can improve the deer’s ability to reach the critical winter and summer habitats they need.

 

For more information about the Mule Deer Working Group, visit their website. 


Jul 17

Western Conservationists Awarded by WAFWA

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has honored conservation professionals from several western states with awards commending their work to conserve fish and wildlife resources. The awards were announced July 15 at WAFWA's annual conference, held this year in Manhattan, Kansas.

Virgil Moore, retired Director of Idaho Fish and Game was honored with WAFWA’s most prestigious award, the Phillip W. Schneider Lifetime Achievement Award. Moore was recognized for his more than four decades of leadership with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and his innumerable contributions to WAFWA. Moore retired in January, 2019, capping a 42-year career devoted to fish and wildlife management. Moore’s leadership contribution to WAFWA spanned several committees and issues over the years. Most recently, Moore served as chair of the Sage-Grouse Executive Oversight Committee from 2012 – 2018, a joint state-federal committee under WAFWA sponsorship which created the important conduit for necessary partnership and conservation vision to avoid federal listing of this iconic bird. Moore broadened his leadership footprint as the 2018 president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA).  In this capacity, he led state fish and game agencies and partners across the nation in a vision for funding future conservation of all of America’s wildlife through the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.  The award Moore received is named for Phillip W. Schneider of Oregon, whose legendary commitment to fish and wildlife resources spanned more than 40 years.

Utah Investigator Wade Hovinga was honored with WAFWA’s Pogue-Elms Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award for his innovative approach to wildlife crime investigations. Hovinga is a Conservation Officer with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and some of his high-profile cases have received nationwide press coverage and significantly raised awareness of the consequences of intentionally violating wildlife laws. Hovinga is also a member of the oversight board for the Wildlife Investigators Covert Academy, and devotes significant time to the annual training for officers and investigators from around the country.  The Pogue-Elms Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award memorializes Idaho Fish and Game officers Bill Pogue and Conley Elms, who were killed in January 1981 while trying to arrest a poacher in a remote region of southwestern Idaho.

Colin Gillin was honored with WAFWA’s Professional of the Year Award for his tireless dedication to wildlife management and health. Gillin is the State Wildlife Veterinarian for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), but his contributions are felt across the country. He serves on myriad committees providing important contributions on national issues such as cervid ranching, chronic wasting disease, white-nose syndrome, high path avian influenza and elk hoof disease. In Oregon, Gillin built the agency’s veterinary program from the ground up and established a lasting relationship with Oregon State University’s Veterinary Department.

WAFWA honors the conservation efforts of federal partners with the Federal Conservation Partner of the Year Award. This year’s recipient was Bureau of Land Management Arizona State Director Ray Suazo, who was honored for his commitment to building relationships and helping advance conservation initiatives in Arizona. He’s responsible for managing 12 million acres of public land for multiple uses and has demonstrated his commitment to conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation for current and future generations.

Other awards conferred included the President's Award, which went to Ron Klataske, executive director of Audubon of Kansas, Inc. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission was honored with the Commission of the Year Award. Colin Berg with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation received a Special Achievement Award for his work to bring outdoor education to the schoolchildren of Oklahoma. WAFWA recognized the Outstanding Citizen Wildlife Contributor by honoring Eddie Pribyl from Nevada.  Retired WAFWA Executive Secretary Larry Kruckenberg was honored with a Special Recognition Award for his long service to WAFWA. WAFWA also conferred lifetime membership awards to six individuals for their career accomplishments and service to the organization: Bob Broscheid (CO), Bruce Dale (AK), Virgil Moore (ID), Alexa Sandoval (NM), Keith Sexson (KS), and Scott Talbott (WY).


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