Monday, July 12, 2010

Refuge Assistance

One of the really fun parts of my job is called “Refuge Assistance,” which means working with National Wildlife Refuges in our area on a variety of issues concerning fish and aquatic habitats. Our area covers the Washington and Oregon sides of the lower Columbia River and all of Oregon with the exception of the Klamath River basin, which is covered by Service offices managed out of California. There are over 20 individual Refuges located throughout our area. Most are located along major rivers or the coast, and their size ranges from a few hundred acres up to several thousand acres. However, there are three refuges that cover well over a hundred thousand acres. These are in eastern Oregon, and the majority of one extends into Nevada.

Electrofishing on the refuge.

Refuges were established for several different purposes. Many were formed to provide habitat for various species, whereas others were established to provide certain types of habitats or for specific species or populations, like the Columbian white-tailed deer or Aleutian cackling geese. In addition to a refuge’s purposes, management is also directed toward other priorities so long as the other priorities are compatible with the refuge’s purpose. These priorities broadly include Service trust resources—migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, interjurisdictional fish, and marine mammals; biological integrity, diversity, environmental health (also called BIDEH); and compatible public uses. Overall, BIDEH refers to the native plants, animals, and habitats of a refuge, and conditions that support them. Public uses include wildlife observation, wildlife photography, interpretation, environmental education, hunting, and fishing.

Assistance that our office provides ultimately is intended to help refuges achieve their purposes and address other priorities. Doing so can involve several types of activities. One example of an activity is inventory work, which involves determining the types of fishes and their habitats found at a refuge. Another type of activity is effectiveness monitoring, which assesses such actions as aquatic habitat restoration so that the success of a restoration project can be evaluated. Technical assistance is a broad type of activity that covers such things as conducting literature reviews, designing studies to inform management decisions, and participating on technical planning teams.

Checking a fish trap.

The wide variety of refuges, with their associated purposes and other priorities, makes working with them a great part of my job. We have an annual workshop to present findings and discuss aquatic issues. Summaries of the workshops are available at: if you are interested in learning more about Refuge Assistance.

Submitted by Sam Lohr.

1 comment:

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