FOB Logo

Welcome to Friends of
BalconesCanyonlands

National Wildlife Refuge

NewsWireNews Wire

<< First  < Prev   1   2   Next >  Last >> 
  • Wednesday, October 01, 2014 3:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written By Dan Ashe
    Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    Kenai RefugeTreelineFromTheDirectorKenaiRefugeTreeline

    The National Climate Assessment released in May puts it bluntly:

    Evidence for climate change abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans. Scientists and engineers from around the world have meticulously collected this evidence, using satellites and networks of weather balloons, thermometers, buoys, and other observing systems. Evidence of climate change is also visible in the observed and measured changes in location and behavior of species and functioning of ecosystems. Taken together, this evidence tells an unambiguous story: the planet is warming, and over the last half century, this warming has been driven primarily by human activity.

    The scientific debate about whether human-induced climate change is occurring – or whether rising average surface temperatures are disrupting the natural systems that support life on Earth – is over. But two significant questions remain to be answered: How catastrophic will the effects of this disruption be? And what can be done to avert the worst impacts and help wildlife and natural systems cope with those that occur?

    These are not easy questions to answer. Fortunately, we still have time to act to sustain the web of life that sustains human population.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with the scientific, conservation and business communities to prepare for these impacts and ensure forward-thinking and effective conservation of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats. Guided by the President’s Climate Action Plan and the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, we are leading efforts to protect natural resources.

    The scale and intensity of climate change impacts pose an enormous challenge.

    But there is hope, and we are making progress. Here are a few examples:

    • ·       At Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa, the Service and partners are finding that restoring diverse, native tall-grass prairie vegetation helps protect the soil year-round, slowing overland flow of water. It also helps recharge groundwater and provide important habitat.
    • ·       By planting trees at refuges in the Red River and Lower Mississippi River valleys of Louisiana, the Service and partners are reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and restoring habitat that feeds and shelters songbirds and other wildlife. Similarly, refuges in Texas, Hawaii and Kansas are planting trees to restore habitat and reduce greenhouse gases.
    • ·       Refuge managers in North Carolina and Virginia are helping to restore the natural hydrology of peatland ecosystems, which reduces fire potential and cuts carbon emissions.
    • ·       In California, refuge staff, Coastal Program staff and partners have been working to raise the elevation of former salt marsh areas around Humboldt Bay that have experienced significant subsidence. This project has helped offset the loss of approximately 95 percent of historic salt marsh around the bay, and builds resiliency to climate change and sea-level rise by providing areas for salt marshes to migrate to behind dikes.
    • ·       Biologists and university researchers have been monitoring the ecological impacts of climate change, such as the rising treeline in the mountains and American marten colonization of the lowlands, at Kenai Refuge in Alaska for decades.
    • ·       The Refuge System has worked to reduce its carbon footprint by purchasing hybrid vehicles, constructing low-energy “green” visitor center/headquarters buildings and installing renewable wind and photovoltaic systems.

    What happens in the next few decades will have profound implications for society. How we choose to respond here and now – or whether we respond at all – will determine the kind of world in which we and our families live for the foreseeable future, as well as the kind of world we leave to future generations. Everyone has a stake in the outcome of those efforts – and we must succeed.

    PHOTO CAPTION:
    Biologists and university researchers have been monitoring the ecological impacts of climate change, such as the rising treeline in the mountains, at Kenai Refuge in Alaska for decades. (USFWS)

  • Thursday, September 25, 2014 6:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the largest Land Trust conference ever, which took place in Providence, Rhode Island September 17th-20th.  The four day event brought 1900 dedicated attendees from all 50 states. Land trust volunteers, board members, staff members, real estate attorneys, appraisers, public agency staff, natural resource scientists, vendors and faculty converged on the Rhode Island Convention Center for learning, networking, and some great field trips that visited a wide range of conservation lands throughout the area.  From the welcoming reception on Wednesday to the end of the final breakout session on Saturday afternoon, Rally provided an amazing forum for meeting, learning, and sharing with a variety of individuals and organizations dedicated to protecting the scenic, natural areas for future generations. This was my second Rally, having attended in New Orleans 2013. This year, I decided early on that I would participate in the field trips that the hosting organizations planned around Rhode Island. I will provide more details on these field trips in another post, but it was time very well spent, and an opportunity to see some great conservation work and meet other conservation minded folks from all across the US.

    There was a sizable Texas delegation in attendance. I spent time with staffers and board members from land trusts in Central Texas, including several groups that are actively collaborating on conservation at Balcones Canyonlands. There are a surprising number of land trusts in and around Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and I realized on thing we have in common between Balcones and New England; the high cost of the land that we seek to conserve. While some land trusts protect tens of thousands of acres, it is not uncommon for some of these organizations to have less than 500 acres in their portfolios and work in very densely developed areas.

    The clear message from the event was that this, the 21st century, is the era of conservation on private lands, along with the acknowledgement that the 20th century was the golden age of public land conservation.  The fiscal reality in Washington is that the levels of funding needed to  succeed in landscape-scale conservation is not attainable, and agencies are focused on partnering with land trusts and other nonprofits to achieve land conservation goals.

    I am proud to be part of collaboration between the Friends of Balcones, USFWS, the Hill Country Land Trust, the Trust for Public Land, the Hill Country Alliance, and the Hill Country Conservancy.  These groups have been meeting regularly and working to leverage resources and expertise to educate landowners on stewardship and habitat protection, the benefits of conservation easements as a financial planning tool as well as a natural resource protection tool, and seeking ways to complete the important work of protecting the beautiful lands in and around Balcones Canyonlands NWR for wildlife, recreation, and nature education.

    Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more updates from the LTA Rally as well as our land acquisition efforts at Balcones!

  • Friday, September 19, 2014 7:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    repost from HLMN Steward by Joan Mukherjee

    BALCONES HIGHLIGHTS

                 Swift Fest was celebrated on August 23rd in partnership with Jonestown.   Approximately 600 people including many children and over 400 swifts were in attendance.  You just can’t count on those birds!  While there were many more birds than the 13 last year, there were far less than the thousands observed in previous years.   Unfortunately swifts don’t use the same calendar we do.  Conditions of food and weather cause their migration dates to vary from year to year.  Wayne Moldovan, Fred Zagst and others from HLMN worked hard to make the event a success.

               HLMN Our Refuge Week celebration will be on October 4th this year at Doeskin Ranch.   It is usually the second weekend in October, but we chose the 4th to avoid conflict with Native Plant Fest on October 11th.  For the first time this will be an all-volunteer event.   We have a great list of events for both children and adults.  Our leaders include:  Spider Joe, Dianne Sherrill, Beth Wesley, Bill Hutson, Robert Lindsay, Sondra Fox, Jean Nance, Sharon Drake, John Abbott, and Karin Kilfeather.  In addition you can visit the butterfly tent, explore the pond for critters, catch monarch butterflies, if there are any, look for migrating hawks with a master birder and play children’s games.  Several people have volunteered but we can use more helpundefinedcontact Joan Mukherjee if you haven’t already volunteered and can help out.   If you can’t volunteer, come anyway, and encourage your friends and neighbors to come also.  Activities will be from 9-4.  You will receive a poster with more details via email.

                Best of all we are excited about beginning our Children’s Programs, Goin’ Buggy and Bridges to Birding.  These, too, are an all-volunteer effort with the first program on October 7th.   Ida Castillo, who is heading them up, is busy contacting local schools and setting dates.   We have decided to limit our efforts to the schools who came last season.   I will soon be calling for volunteer teachersundefinedones with past experience for this fall.   On February 19th we will have an Environmental Education program for those interested in becoming teachers in the spring programs.

                Margie Butler and her taxonomy volunteers have kept the Flying X gardens looking great and Ruth Lyon has been keeping the office gardens alive and blooming.  Their hard work is much appreciated.  The taxonomy volunteers include Teri Whaley, Marjorie Dearmont, JJ Hansen, Judy Caramonica, Minnie Eaton, Sherry Bixler, Paula D’Orsogna and Jo Ellen Cashion.


  • Tuesday, September 16, 2014 4:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FIELD NOTES by Deborah Holle, Refuge Manager

    repost from the Canyonlands Crier September 2014

    The past summer at Balcones went by quickly.  It started with the retirement of Rob Iski, the Refuge’s Outdoor Recreation Planner.  Rob and his family moved to Balcones in 1999, over 14 years ago.  Rob made an indelible mark on Balcones by establishing its environmental education program.  For a number of reason, primarily workforce planning and sequestration, Rob’s position will not be filled immediately.  Thankfully Joan Mukherjee and Ida Castillo volunteered to organize the volunteers to continue the Going Buggy and Balcones Bridges to Birding programs for area schools that local children enjoy so much.

     

    Drought 2014 continues, but we did have more rain than last year or at least it seems we are a little greener, albeit August was really dry.  The Refuge dove fields on tract #120 produced many native sunflowers, dove weed and other species beneficial to wildlife and birds.  Eighty six hunters bagged an average of 5.4 birds over the 4 day hunt. The Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo nested in their traditional areas and fledged young successfully. Refuge volunteers helped refuge biologists with bird and deer surveys.  We hired Chad Ediger as our Maintenance Worker in June.  Chad is retired from the Air Force.  Cixto Saucedo transferred from the Southwest Arizona Refuge Complex in Yuma to Balcones as our Heavy Equipment Operator in July. Efforts to control invasive plants, especially China berry trees, Johnson grass, and spotted knapp weed were priorities for the 2 student interns from the Student Conservation Association.  We plan to burn the 2 front fields at HQ before fall and then plant them with some native wildflowers and grasses.  The 3rd Swift Fest went well with more Chimney Swifts “dropping” into the cistern in Jonestown.  Over 250 people stayed to witness the Swifts going to roost. 

     

    The success of the programs at Balcones couldn't occur without the Refuge Volunteers and Friends of Balcones help.  You may be aware the President Obama will create a Federal Strategy to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators this year.  One of the other pollinators is the monarch butterfly.  Monarchs are in steep decline and Texas is the second highest priority for improving their habitat.  Don’t be surprised if many of our Volunteers and Friends are called upon to help with some monarch projects in the upcoming months.

  • Friday, March 21, 2014 3:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Re-post from Dan Ashe, Director, U.S.Fish & Wildlife Service

    Dan AsheHalf a century ago, I was 8 years old, but fortunately, some smart and passionate folks were thinking about my future. And yours. They decided that “wild life” is more than individual plants and animals. Places should be set aside and allowed to stay wild and undisturbed by man.

    Their work and passion culminated in the Wilderness Act of 1964. Signed by President Lyndon Johnson, the Wilderness Act created the National Wilderness Preservation System, and established a formal mechanism for designating future wilderness. President Johnson stated, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”

    This year, we are celebrating the act’s 50th anniversary, and with less than 3 percent of the contiguous United States still considered wild, we have a lot of work to do. As human population grows, and humanity consumes more and more to meet its growing needs, wild will become increasingly rare.

    I’ve had the good fortune to visit many of our wildest places. One of them is not where you’d expect. Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham, MA, is a wilderness that exists amid a crush of humanity. Have you ever tried to cross the Bourne Bridge onto Cape Cod on a summer weekend? The refuge includes the Monomoy Wilderness. When Congress created the Monomoy Wilderness in 1970, Monomoy was not the kind of pristine wilderness many imagine when they read the Wilderness Act – places where “the imprint of man’s work [is] substantially unnoticeable.” People had left their mark (structures, foundations, roads and more) on the Monomoy Wilderness, some arestill evident today.

    But it is worth the effort to reach the pristine, which is what refuge manager Dave Brownlie and the National Wildlife Refuge System are doing. Essentially, they are re-wilding this dynamic coastal barrier system and its biodiversity of birds, marine wildlife and coastal habitats.

    As important as wilderness areas are to wildlife, they are also essential to us – to clear our heads, to experience what it means to be really outdoors, and to connect with the earth and our natural heritage.

    They preserve what Brownlie calls the “Monomoy magic,” the feeling he gets when he visits Monomoy’s southernmost tip. There, amid the wildlife, he says: “Yeah, I’m really in a wilderness now.” You can almost hear the tension fade from his voice as he says it, too.

    To ensure that wilderness is not lost to short-term gain or for the latest tourist trap, it’s up to us to convey the value of wilderness – not to the nation in the abstract, but concretely to each and every one of us.

    Only then, when everyone can, and does, fully appreciate wilderness, will we be confident that the wild lands and “wild life” we love will be there for our children and grandchildren. So, like those pioneers of wilderness protection, who acted for you and me 50 years ago, you and I now have our date with destiny. We are leading today’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and today’s conservation community. So let’s get out there and make our own version of the Monomoy magic.

  • Tuesday, January 29, 2013 1:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    NWRAA new Web site -- RefugeFriendsConnect.org – is a one-stop shop for information that Refuge Friends organizations so often seek:  directory of all Friends organizations; forum to pose questions or give advice; a range of resources from information on grants and fundraising to the status of the Refuge System Conserving the Future implementation; and news of what’s happening around the Refuge System.

    All Friends and those working with Friends to support the Refuge System are welcome to join.

    To become a member go to RefugeFriendsConnect.org and click on “Apply for Membership”. You will receive your password within one business day, which will also allow you to update information about your Friends organizations and upload events on the calendar as well as provide more information from your group. 

    For questions and more information, contact Joan Patterson, National Wildlife Refuge Association, at 202.290.5594 or jpatterson@refugeassociation.org.

  • Tuesday, January 29, 2013 12:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Re-post from Friends NewsWire

    Bike & Bird Cow Creek with Shelia & Laurie 2012

    Bike n Bird Cow Creek-S. HargisParticipation in wildlife-associated recreation increased in 28 states since 2006, according to the findings of the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation State Overview Report, released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Sept. 12. 

    The National Survey, conducted since 1955, measures participation in these activities and related spending on trips and equipment across the nation and in individual states. The 2011 National Survey data show that hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers spent $145 billion last year on related gear, trips and other purchases such as licenses, tags and land leasing or ownership.

    “Hunting, fishing and wildlife watching are part of our national heritage, and the trip and equipment-related spending of participants’ forms significant support for local economies across the country,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “These survey results are good news for the small businesses and rural communities who depend on wildlife-related tourism, and it shows an encouraging increase in personal investment of citizens in the future of wildlife and wild places.”

    Public lands managed by federal and state agencies support much of the fishing, hunting, and wildlife-associated recreation that Americans enjoy. The State Overview, released today provides national survey data on wildlife-related recreation at the state level, which helps state natural resource agencies to plan and provide wildlife-related recreation opportunities.

    “The State by State data from the National Survey is where the rubber meets the road for state fish and wildlife agencies,” said Dr. Jonathan Gassett, Commissioner of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “These results help each state set the course for future fish and wildlife conservation and they help quantify the results of investments that each state has made in its wildlife-related recreation programs, especially hunter and angler recruitment and retention programs.”

    Highlights from this overview include the following information:

    ·       Of the 28 states with increases in the number of wildlife-related recreation participants from 2006 to 2011, the largest percentage increases were seen in Alaska (47 percent) and Louisiana (40 percent).

    ·       South Dakota had the highest proportion of state residents who hunted– 21 percent.

    ·       Alaska had the highest proportion of state residents who fished– 40 percent.

    ·       Vermont had the highest proportion of state residents who wildlife watched– 53 percent. 

    Overall, the 2011 Survey found that 38 percent of all Americans 16 years of age and older participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. Participation in recreational fishing increased by 11 percent and hunting was up 9 percent.  This increase reverses a trend over previous Surveys showing a 10% decline in hunting participation between 1996 and 2006.  The 2011 Survey reports a corresponding increase in hunting equipment expenditures, which are up 29 percent from 2006. 

    Through landmark conservation laws supported by American sportsmen and women, funds collected by states through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses are combined with federal funds from excise tax on sport weapons and ammunition and on angling equipment to pay for fish and wildlife conservation and associated recreational opportunities. Together, these laws support the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs, first established 75 years ago.  Since then, hunters and anglers have paid more than $11 billion in excise taxes on purchases of firearms, ammunition, archery, fishing and boating equipment toward thousands of conservation projects, wildlife-associated recreational opportunities and access, and sport shooting ranges around the nation.

    The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, conducted every five years since 1955, has become one of the most important sources of information on fish and wildlife recreation in the United States. Federal, State, and private organizations use the rigorously-compiled and detailed information to manage wildlife and wildlife-related recreation programs, market products, and forecast trends in participation and economic impacts.

    The 2011 report was requested by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Survey Branch of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, and administered by the U.S. Census Bureau.  The Census Bureau conducted detailed interviews from individuals at 48,627 households across the country to obtain samples of sportspersons and wildlife watchers. Information was collected through computer-assisted telephone and in-person interviews. 

  • Saturday, November 12, 2011 12:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by Shelia Hargis, FRIENDS Government Relations Director

    Our Hill Country is a treasure worth preserving, and at its heart is the 23,000-acre Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Tens of thousands of Texans depend upon the Refuge as a safe, affordable, and convenient place to enjoy the great outdoors. But this refuge and others like it are at risk of closing their doors unless our state’s congressional delegation stands up for public land conservation.

    As a volunteer with the Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, I’ve met many Central Texans who visit the Refuge for recreation and relaxation. They come to experience the Refuge’s remarkable views, hiking trails, and plentiful wildlife. Its prime location on a migratory bird flyway as well as breeding Golden-cheeked Warblers and Black-capped Vireos make the Refuge a premiere destination for birders from around the nation. The endangered Golden-cheeked Warblers and Black-capped Vireos are among the Refuge’s 270 bird species that rely on the Refuge, and protection of their breeding habitat inspired the creation of the Refuge nearly twenty years ago. The unique geologic features of the Hill Country also make it ideal habitat for a broad range of unusual subterranean wildlife, and these critters have their own dedicated enthusiasts as well.

    Conserving the qualities that make this place so special is tremendously important for all of us who need a place to get outdoors. And, the ecotourism dollars that visiting nature lovers spend at the businesses in the area help support these businesses even in hard economic times.

    I recently traveled to Washington,D.C.to bring that message to our congressional delegation and urge their support for a little-known program that has brought enormous benefits to Texas, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Since the fund was established in 1965, LWCF has protected more than seven million acres across the United Statesundefinedfrom neighborhood playgrounds and ball fields to the grandest national parks.

    What’s especially impressive is that all this has been accomplished without using taxpayer dollars. Instead, a small portion of the royalties paid by oil and gas companies to drill in public waters offshore are set aside each year to purchase conservation lands.

    LWCF has conserved many of our state’s jewels in the national park and refuge system, such as Balcones Canyonlands, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and Padre Island National Seashore. Although LWCF is essential to preserving these national treasures, cuts proposed by some in Washington would decimate the program. Zeroing out funding for land acquisition would threaten public access to recreation and strand landowners who want to convey natural areas for public use.

    During my trip to the nation’s capital, I also reminded our delegation that cutting LWCF means cutting local tourism revenue and jobs. Nationwide, outdoor recreation supports one in every 15 jobs, and brings in more than a trillion dollars in revenue to local economies. In our state, 2.9 million sportspersons and 4.2 million wildlife watchers combine to spend $9.2 billion on wildlife-associated recreation.

    As Congress looks for ways to reduce spending, LWCF might seem like an easy target. But as I told our delegation, now is not the time to cut a program that provides so many jobs and provides so much economic benefit to our communities.

    I hope that Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, and Representative Lamar Smith will defend LWCF. The places we protect today become tomorrow’s recreation jobs and tourist dollars, and they are part of the legacy of clean air and water that we’ll leave our children and grandchildren. That’s not something any of us should be willing to risk.

  • Friday, October 21, 2011 1:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The VisionThe renewed vision for the growth and management of the National Wildlife Refuge System, entitled Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation, is now available online at www.americaswildlife.org.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s vision was developed with extensive input from stakeholders through a transparent public process over the past 18 months.

    “For more than 100 years, the National Wildlife Refuge System has conserved America’s great wildlife heritage and working lands for current and future generations, and this blueprint will ensure that a new era of conservation – one rooted in strong partnerships with the community – remains vibrant for the next 100 years,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “I applaud the Fish and Wildlife Service for its commitment to increasing the public’s access to open spaces and to inspiring a new generation to enjoy America’s great outdoors and get involved in conserving our nation’s wild things and wild places.”

    Conserving the Future underscores the importance of building and expanding partnerships – working with other federal agencies, states, tribes, conservation organizations and citizens.

    “The conservation challenges of the 21st century demand that the Service renews its commitment to our important relationship with state fish and wildlife agencies and with traditional partners such as anglers and hunters,” said Dan Ashe, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. “At the same time, we need to be creative and bold in forging new partnerships.”

    Among the Conserving the Future’s recommendations, the Refuge System will:
    • launch an urban refuge initiative to increase the American people’s connection with their natural heritage, including wildlife refuges;
    • work with state fish and wildlife agencies to prepare a strategy for increasing quality hunting and fishing opportunities – especially for youth and people with disabilities – on wildlife refuges;
    • collaborate more with private and regional groups to conserve wildlife habitat;
    • undertake an inventory and monitoring of the Refuge System’s land and water resources to better protect against future threats;
    • develop a plan to guide refuges in assessing potential climate change impacts to refuge habitats and species; and  
    • plan for strategic growth by prioritizing potential acquisition sites and assessing the status of current habitat protection efforts.
    In describing the Refuge System’s role in addressing America’s conservation challenges, the vision document states: “Human demands on the environment combined with environmental stressors are creating an urgent need for conservation choices. The scale of issues and challenges we face is unprecedented and impacts us all; no single entity has the resources necessary to address these challenges on its own.

    “Conserving the Future acknowledges that strategic, collaborative, science-based landscape conservation -- along with effective public outreach, education and environmental awareness -- is the only path forward to conserve America's wildlife and wild places.
  • Wednesday, September 28, 2011 10:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Fall 2011 Crier

    I know, in the Spring we announced the end of a paper newsletter...due to raising costs and going green.yada,yada,yada...BUT the outcry from subscribers caused us to re-think the distribution and the benefits to reaching out to the public with multiple media tools. Yes, we LIKE facebook, twitter, emails,...but there is something to be said for those left behind AND we don't want to leave anyone behind! We actually expanded our distribution on the Canyonlands Crier!

    We hope that you enjoy this issue.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   Next >  Last >> 

2014 © Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software