Archive for the ‘Funding Favorite’ Category

Agua Fria River Basin Blog

How can a blog be a Registry project?

The Agua Fria Open Space Alliance’s new blog is all about one geographic location, a watershed near Dewey, Arizona. While a blog certainly stretches the definition of a Registry project, the Agua Fria Open Space Alliance’s blog falls within the Registry’s category of wildlife and habitat monitoring, research, education and policy activities tied to a specific geographical location because it is an online location for users to report wildlife sightings in the Agua Fria watershed. The blog also provides background information on conservation in this unique watershed.

From Dr. Garry Rogers, October 29, 2011:
This year Great Blue Herons built nests over one of my stock ponds in Dewey-Humboldt near the Agua Fria River. They started with two nests, but abandoned one. Three chicks hatched. These were the first nests I’ve seen since moving here in 1997.

I first noticed the nests on April 10, when some loud croaking began. I think that was when the eggs were laid. On April 12 I watched a Great Blue Heron chase all 25 of the vultures out of the willow trees along my driveway. He had them ducking and squawking. They came back as soon as he left.

The Agua Fria Open Space Alliance was formed to contribute to the health and sustainable management of undeveloped public and private lands in the Agua Fria River Basin. It seeks to protect physical and biological components of open space through research, education, and effective management.

More and more habitat in this watershed is being converted to development, and with human activities come invasive species and degraded habitat.

“Historical observations indicate that the desert grassland of the lower valleys was once home to thousands of antelope and myriad other creatures…. In the year 2000 only a few hundred antelope could be found, and about a third of these are expected to disappear during the next decade or two.”

The Agua Fria Open Space Alliance’s principal goals are to:

  1. Inventory and monitor wildlife, vegetation, invasive plants and animals, and ecological conditions.
  2. Design educational materials and experiences.
  3. Encourage protection and restoration of native plant and animal communities.

The blog encourages inhabitants to “step out our doors to see native vegetation, birds, and insects.”

From November 28, 2011
The photograph shows a Mourning Cloak Butterfly (Nymphalis antiopa).  I nominate this species to become the emblematic butterfly for the Agua Fria River Basin.  The Mourning Cloak is truly at home among the willows and cottonwoods growing along the Agua Fria River in the heart of the Basin.  Mourning Cloaks mate in early spring, but I have seen adults flying beside the river on sunny days in all months of the year.

The transfer of significance from the past to the future
Dr. Rogers, the blog’s author, uses direct observation and compelling words to describe the world around him. In this way he’s part of a fine tradition of conservation, one definition of which is what another nature writer, Paul Evans called “the transfer of significance from the past to the future.”


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Bear Aware

Conservation Registry project minimizes human-related food attractant conflicts with Grizzly Bears

Grizzly bear cub in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Steve Hillebrand.

Did you know? Human-related moralities are the number one cause of death for grizzly bears. Grizzly bear populations were reduced to near extinction before 1975, when the species was listed as an endangered species. The healthy return of the grizzly bear now puts them into direct conflict with humans as the bears try to repopulate their historic ranges, many of which have become human habitation too. Wildlife managers have had to kill and remove record numbers of bears after incidents of conflict.


Late spring, which can leave snow deep in the higher elevations when bears emerge from their winter dens, can drive bears to lower elevations where humans live. Garbage cans, chicken yards, or any unprotected source of food can lure bears into close contact with humans. And when that happens, wildlife managers have almost no choice but to remove the bears.

Educating Humans about bears
In Montana and Idaho, Defenders of Wildlife is working to minimize the number of human-related attractants available to bears on the landscape. Partnering with agencies, landowners, local services and organizations, Defenders provides outreach and education, electric fencing, food-storage lockers and bear-resistant garbage containers in important bear habitat. Take a look at the sites and view the project.

What you can do
Funds are needed to purchase more electric fencing, bear-proof garbage cans and food bins. Volunteers are needed for outreach and education efforts in Missoula, Montana. Contact Jonathan Proctor at Defenders of Wildlife if you can help.


Payette National Forest, Idaho. Photo by Suzanne Stone.

Information and community resources for living with bears:
Missoula Bears


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Water of Waccamaw—WOW

Guest blogger Kristen Howell fills us in on the Waccamaw River of North Carolina and the WOW project. Kristen is a conservation specialist for the North Carolina Land Trust. She developed the Water of Waccamaw project and received funding support from GlaxoSmithKline. Kristen says, “My personal goal is to bring more kids into science, to break down fears and to prove they are smart enough to be future scientists.”

Water of Waccamaw “WOW” project
Thanks to the GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and project partners, The Water of Waccamaw “WOW” project will bring the local Waccamaw watershed into middle and high schools in Columbus and Brunswick counties. The Waccamaw River defines the boundary between the two counties, and is considered globally-significant, providing home to 10 aquatic animals found nowhere else on earth. An activity guide following curriculum for middle and high school levels will be provided on the NC Coastal Land Trust website, in the hope that teachers will use it in the classroom, schoolyard and on field trips.

In addition, two training sessions will be provided at Lake Waccamaw State Park for 100 Columbus County 8th graders to learn how to collect, sample and analyze water quality data. With additional funding, we hope to offer this training program to all 8th grade students in Columbus and Brunswick counties. The Waccamaw Riverkeeper runs a volunteer water quality program in South Carolina and will be expanding it to North Carolina. By training local students, we hope to inspire the entire community to become more involved in the health of the river and lake. Coastal Carolina University and Southeastern Community College are involved in posting and interpreting water quality data for the project.

Through interactive training sessions, hands-on practice, and use of the teacher’s guide, students will learn marketable scientific skills, experience Lake Waccamaw and the Waccamaw River, and gain an appreciation of this globally important resource.

Read the Registry’s previous post on the Waccamaw River.

View Waccamaw River Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Project.

Registry portal: Check out the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission‘s portal in the Conservation Registry.

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Hart-Sheldon Wildlife Connectivity Project

Funding Favorite
Hart-Sheldon Wildlife Connectivity Project. The Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in Oregon and the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada encompass a sensitive high desert landscape that is critically important for yearly migrations and wintering of pronghorn antelope. It also is a key habitat stronghold for sage grouse.

Working together, the Oregon Natural Desert Association and Friends of Nevada Wilderness are creating a wildlife corridor between the Oregon and Nevada refuges to help pronghorn antelope adapt to climate change.

Both the Hart Mountain and Sheldon refuges were created for the conservation of pronghorn antelope the 1930′s. Management has since grown to include conservation of a wide variety of wildlife as well as the restoration of native ecosystems found within the refuges.

The Harte-Sheldon project will work to maintain the overall integrity of the critical wildlife habitat and migratory corridors in the region between and around the refuges, known as the Hart-Sheldon complex. Partners will work with state and federal agencies and other groups to complete a climate change and resource vulnerability assessment, organize restoration opportunities, and complete on-the-ground activities such as fence removal and restoration of degraded springs.

How you can help
Funding is still needed to purchase spring exclosure fence packages and spring monitoring kits, both necessary to protect vital water sources for habitat integrity and survival of migrating animals. In-kind donations: they are also looking for fence removal tools, such as pliers, fence post pullers, work gloves, fencing materials, GPS units and cameras.

Support this project
Email Devon Comstock, Hart-Sheldon Conservation Coordinator for the Oregon Natural Desert Association.

Read more about the Greater Hart-Sheldon Ecosystem.

Want to highlight your Registry project on Funding Favorites? Email Kassandra Kelly.

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Westport Drumlin

Funding Favorite
Westport Drumlin is situated on a glacially sculpted ridge twenty minutes from downtown Madison, Wisconsin. The 217 acre site has more than 100 native plant species. The managing organization, the Natural Heritage Land Trust, needs contributions to purchase native prairie grass and forb seeds and continue to enhance the already rich grassland ecosystem.

Why is the Westport Drumlin special?
Wisconsin’s ice age left many small ridges or “drumlins”. Drumlins were usually too steep-sided for farmers to plow, though they were often good for grazing cattle. The ancient prairie of Westport Drumlin survived in much of its original, pre-settlement state because it was just far enough away from the milking barn to avoid being heavily grazed by cattle.

The Westport Drumlin is home to the prairie bush clover (Lespedeza leptostachya), a federally threatened prairie plant found only in the tallgrass prairie region of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa. Discovering the presence of this plant helped to secure federal funding to buy the surrounding land. Some prairie plants are extremely sensitive to herbicide drift and buying nearby lands helped to keep agricultural herbicides off the remnant prairie.

Other special inhabitants include the Red-tailed leafhopper (Aflexia rubranura), a state endangered insect that subsists on the host plant Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis). Developing grassland bird habitat is part of the next phase of restoration, where managers plan to remove tree lines that fragment habitat and create perch areas for predator birds.

Want to help? Contact Jim Welsh, executive director of the Natural Heritage Land Trust

Want to have your Registry project highlighted in Funding Favorites? Email Kassandra Kelly.

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