Fish and Aquatic Conservation - In the News
Fish and Aquatic Conservation

In The News

Staff and partners loading spring Chinook salmon during the extreme heat wave
Warm Springs NFH staff and partners started working before the sun came up to safely load and transfer 348,000 young spring Chinook salmon during the extreme heatwave that hit the Pacific Northwest in late June 2021. Photo by Katie Royer / USFWS

Fisheries Professionals, Partners Work Together to Save Salmon from Extreme Heat

July 2021 | By: Brent Lawrence, Public Affairs Officer, USFWS Columbia Pacific Northwest

Mike Clark and a team of fisheries professionals watched the weather forecast for late June and knew it meant serious problems for the more than 7 million salmon being reared in the Columbia River Gorge National Fish Hatcheries.

Each day the weather forecast for the Pacific Northwest brought increasingly dire predictions. What started as 104 degrees soon became a forecast of 108 degrees. Then 111 … 115 …. 117 degrees.

The numbers were unfathomable for the normally temperate Pacific Northwest. If they came true, they would exceed previous all-time record highs for many areas by almost 10%. Clark, manager of the Columbia River Gorge National Fish Hatchery Complex, and the staff knew it would have a pronounced impact on the water temperature and the juvenile salmon at hatcheries in the complex.

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A young child looks at a fish he is holding. A child next to him smiles and points at the camera.
Programs like the Anchorage Urban Fishing program break down barriers by helping participants overcome their fear of the outdoor.
Photo by Katrina Leibich/USFWS

The Face of Fishing: Younger, more diverse, and supporting conservation by the billions.

July 2021

Fishing is more than a hobby. For many, it represents a way of life, a connection to wildlife, and a sustainable way to support your family and community. Through fishing, we have the opportunity to connect with nature and the world around us.

People who fish have always been a driving force for conservation because they understand that fishing depends on clean water, sustainably managed resources, and protected habitat. They lead the way in protecting waterways from invasive species and promoting responsible fishing practices. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works closely with state fish and wildlife agencies, communities, and partners to ensure that the nation’s fisheries are safe, productive, and sustainable for everyone to enjoy.

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A person stands in front of a lake and holds a large goldfish up to the camera.
A 14-inch goldfish removed from the Niagara River. Photo by USFWS.

How to Break Up with Your Goldfish

July 2021

Goldfish can seem like the ideal low maintenance pet. But if you are no longer able to care for your them, it can be difficult to know what to do with your fishy friend.

Many people think that letting their goldfish loose into a local pond or river is a harmless and humane way to get rid of them. But that’s not the case. When goldfish are released in to local waterways they become an invasive species that can live for up to 25 years and do real harm to the water quality and wild fish communities.

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Icicle Creek flows down from the Cascade Mountain range to join the Wenatchee River in Leavenworth, WA.
Icicle Creek flows down from the Cascade Mountain range to join the Wenatchee River in Leavenworth, WA. Credit:

New Pilot Project at Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Thinks Outside the Raceway

July 2021

Icicle Creek is an iconic stream in central Washington State that runs through the heart of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest into the Wenatchee River, providing life-giving resources to the surrounding communities. From supporting domestic water supply and agricultural irrigation to providing habitat for wildlife and recreation for people, Icicle Creek is in high demand. This hardworking waterway also provides water for Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, ensuring the creation of millions of salmon annually.

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Nicole removing plasma separated from packed red blood cells in a lab
Nicole removing plasma separated from packed red blood cells in a lab at Abernathy Fish Technology Center. Credit: USFWS

Advice for Other Black Kids: Pursue Your Passion

June 2021

I have always been drawn to nature and outdoor spaces. My stepdad, who was White, instilled a love and appreciation for being outside and taking advantage of whatever nature had to offer.

Born and (mostly) raised in Washington State, I had access to endless green spaces. My stepdad was more likely to let me explore more remote or precarious places, while my mom was more conservative in how she interacted with outdoor spaces. For her, going to a city park or visiting a zoo were sufficient and fulfilling experiences with nature.

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Chinook smolts are sucked up from the raceways and piped directly into the stream, a method that avoids damage to or loss of fish.
Tubular! Chinook smolts are sucked up from the raceways and piped directly into the stream, a method that avoids damage to or loss of fish. Credit: Heather Love/AmeriCorps

Migrating Salmon Tackle Nature’s Obstacle Course

April 2021 | By Julia Pinnix, Visitor Services Manager, Leavenworth Fisheries Complex

April is an exciting month at the hatcheries of Leavenworth Fisheries Complex in Central Washington. This is the time for releasing the young salmon and steelhead we have nurtured for the past twenty months. Every day, regardless of weather or other events, our production staff have cared for these fish. They feed them, clean their tanks and raceways, monitor the water flow and quality, drive off predators, and examine them for signs of health. Now they will release them into the river, hoping for the best as the smolts make their way downstream, into the Columbia River and out to the Pacific Ocean.

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Fish biologist checking tag number on a salmon carcass pulled up from the depths of the Sacramento River
Curtis Brownfield, fish biologist for the Service, checks the tag number on a salmon carcass pulled up from the depths of the Sacramento River. Credit: Jake Sisco/USFWS

Counting the dead to account for the living

April 2021

The feel of the wind in your face, the sound of a boat motor roaring down a river, the spray of water, the warm sun on your back and the smell of rotting flesh. This is what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists on the Sacramento River experience when conducting winter-run Chinook salmon carcass surveys.

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Su Jewell holding a Burmese python at Loxahatchee national wildlife refuge
2021 Alison Haskell Award Winner Susan (Su) Jewell

The Alison Haskell Award for Excellence in Herpetofaunal Conservation

March 2021

The award is presented annually by Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) in memory of Alison Haskell (1956 – 2006) to recognize an individual in North America who exemplifies extraordinary commitment to herpetofaunal conservation, as did Alison.

The Joint National Steering Committee (JNSC) has selected Susan (Su) Jewell as the recipient of the 2021 Alison Haskell Award for Excellence in Herpetofaunal Conservation.

Read about Su's contributions to herpetofaunal conservation

A zebra mussel nestled inside a moss ball
A zebra mussel nestled inside a moss ball. Photo credit: USGS

Destroy! Don’t Dump!

March 8, 2021

Invasive zebra mussels have recently been found in "moss balls,” an aquarium plant product sold at aquarium and pet supply stores. Zebra mussels are regarded as one of the most destructive invasive species in North America. If you recently purchased moss balls for your aquarium, they must be properly destroyed - don't dump them! Follow the DESTROY, DISPOSE, and DRAIN instructions on our website.

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holding a brook trout up close
Brook trout are considered the bullies in trout world and have a habit of taking over habitat and spawning with other species. This is the case in the Sprague River watershed of Klamath County, Oregon. Photo courtesy of Ryan Cooper/Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Rumble in the river: brook vs. bull trout

February 25, 2021

In the fictional world of trout wrestling, one of the most uneven matchups would pit brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) against bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus). When squaring off in their aquatic ‘ring,’ the invasive and scrappy ‘brookies’ are bullies, outcompeting the native bull trout by eating all the food, hogging the best shelter and generally pushing them around. Brook trout are also opportunists, taking advantage of and spawning with bull trout.

Such a fish face-off recently occurred in the Upper Sprague River watershed north of Klamath Falls, Oregon. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Klamath Falls received reports from an angler of brook trout in tributaries of the Sprague River where none had been previously documented.

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A frosty morning overlooking a pond at a the hatchery. Steam rising from the grass and the sun peeking through the trees.
A chilly morning at Neosho National Fish Hatchery, Missouri. Photo credit: USFWS

Enjoy a Winter Visit to a National Fish Hatchery

January 18, 2021 | By Denise Wagner, Headquarters - Fish and Aquatic Conservation

Don’t let the cold weather keep you indoors. Visit a National Fish Hatchery and enjoy the winter activities they have to offer. From peaceful and scenic to fun and strenuous, there is a little something for everyone, all while social distancing.

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Close up view of a Burbot fish
Up close with a Burbot. Photo credit: USFWS

Burbot: The Singsong Gadoid

January 12, 2021 | U.S. Fish and Wildlife - Alaska

Burbot (Lota lota) are the only freshwater gadoid (cod) in North America (check out that chin whisker!). And with a circumpolar range, they’re one of the most widely distributed freshwater fishes in the world.

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Photo of an aerial view of Winthrop National Fish Hatchery
Photo: Winthrop NFH, seen from a nearby height. Photo credit, Julia Pinnix/USFWS

What I Learned by Listening to Wintertime at the Leavenworth Fisheries Complex

January 5, 2021 | By Julia Pinnix, Visitor Services Manager, Leavenworth Fisheries Complex

Fish hatcheries sound like running water. Even in winter, the sound permeates the atmosphere. But the sound palette changes from one season to the next.

As the cold bites down harder at the bottom of the year, Entiat National Fish Hatchery switches to drawing river water into its system, weaning young fish off well water. This “naturalizes the growth cycle,” said hatchery manager Craig Chisam, putting the fish on the same conditions they would experience if they were in the wild. Challenges arise with keeping ice from clogging the water intake, but a new alarm system installed in December should help staff track conditions.

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An illustration of two fish seeming to look into each other’s eyes. Text over the fish says “Hope your holidays aren’t crappie.”

Last Minute Fishing Gifts for the Fish Aficionado in Your Life!

December 2020 | Holly Richards and Gwen Bausmith - Headquarters Fish and Aquatic Conservation

It happens to all of us. You get busy mulling the cider and frying latkes, and before you know it you’re out of time with a boat load of gifts to give. Never fear! We’ve got some gift giving fin-spiration for any fish aficionados in your life!  

Send your best fishes with a lovely electronic (or printable) holiday card!

Sometimes the best present of all is sharing our thoughts and a laugh with the people who matter most. Send one of our free holiday e-cards to the fish aficionado in your life and tag us @USFWSFisheries with your cards on social.

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photo of channel spanning culverts
Channel-spanning culverts let fish and floods pass freely. Photo credit: Katrina Liebich/USFWS

USFWS Habitat Restoration Staff Part of Team to Receive National Chief's and Under Secretary's Honors Award for Customer Experience

December 2020

Congratulations to all twenty members of the Copper River Watershed Enhancement Partnership on this well-deserved award! Staff from the U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Department of Transportation, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Copper River Watershed Project, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) jointly received the National Chief's and Under Secretary's Honors Award for Customer Experience.

USFWS staff recognized from the Anchorage Fish and Wildlife Office's Habitat Branch included Franklin Dekker, Heather Hanson, and Trent Liebich who are part of a larger restoration team: Libby Benolkin, Jess Straub and Jake Gottschalk also contributed to the project's success. 

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photo of Kylee Butler holding a steelhead at Makah National Fish Hatchery
AmeriCorps member Kylee Butler shows off a big smile and an even bigger steelhead at Makah National Fish Hatchery, Credit: USFWS

We are #Grateful For Awesome AmeriCorps Members!

November 25, 2020 | by USFWS Columbia Pacific Northwest Region

People power the conservation work we do. We are #GratefulFor their service to America’s fish, wildlife, and habitat. Today we shine a spotlight on Kylee Butler, an awesome AmeriCorps intern serving through American Conservation Experience.

baɫu·ɫšiƛ (Welcome)! My home is the Makah Indian Reservation of which I am a proud tribal member. I am serving as an Americorps intern stationed at the Makah National Fish Hatchery (MNFH) in Neah Bay, Washington. I’m excited about this opportunity to both serve and gain experience, whether that is assisting in the spawning and rearing of fish or supporting education and outreach at the hatchery and in the community.

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Learn More about Makah National Fish Hatchery

photo of fisherman searching for steelhead in Clear Creek
Local fishermen search for steelhead in Clear Creek, where restoration has created diverse conditions and habitats for fish. Credit: Brandon Honig/USFWS

Restoration brings salmon, people back to Clear Creek

November 12, 2020 | Brandon Honig

Clear Creek has been transformed multiple times in the past two centuries, but the transformation of the past few decades was designed to last. Ravaged first by gold-seekers and then by gravel-miners, the Sacramento River tributary is today a haven for fish and people alike.

“You get to see big male salmon chasing each other away from females and see females digging redds, or nests. It’s exciting,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Charlie Chamberlain. “It’s something a lot of people would not expect to see in California except on National Geographic.”

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photo of spawning salmon eggs
Once inside, the salmon are spawned; the females drained of eggs then fertilized with milt from the males. Photo credit: KRCR

Coleman National Fish Hatchery: salmon spawning season

November 6, 2020 | by Mike Mangas

ANDERSON, Calif. — There are still salmon in Battle Creek at the gate to Coleman National Fish Hatchery.

They wait there before going up the fish ladder. Once in, they're spawned, the females drained of eggs, then fertilized with milt from the males.

Project Leader Bret Galyean says they've reached their goal of 12-million eggs—a bit of a surprise. Mature salmon return from the ocean as, mostly, three-year-olds. And, these salmon were released during the drought.

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Learn More about Coleman National Fish Hatchery

photo of Endangered razorback sucker
Fisheries officials will monitor the movements of the invasive fish to learn its preferred habitats and guide future netting and removal efforts. Photo credit: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Four silver carp tagged and released on Mississippi River near La Crosse

October 24, 2020 | Paul A. Smith - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Four silver carp were captured this month in Pool 8 of the Mississippi River near La Crosse.

Rather than kill the destructive invaders, staff with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fitted the fish with acoustic tags and released them back to the river.

On its face, it seems counter to every guidance on aquatic invasive species. 

But the action was part of a multi-agency project to monitor the movements of the fish and learn their preferred habitats in the expansive pool.

Ultimately, it is hoped the "Judas" fish will reveal the location of other silver carp and guide netting efforts to remove the undesirable fish before they can strengthen their foothold in the Mississippi River along Wisconsin's western border.

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photo of Endangered razorback sucker
Comparison photo of bullfrog (left) and Columbia spotted frog (right). Photos courtesy of Spencer Neuharth/USFWS and U.S. Forest Service.

Drought-Stressed Fish in the Colorado River to Benefit from XTO Energy and Other Water Donors

October 2020

PALISADE, CO - Endangered fish relying on flow in the Colorado River near Grand Junction, Colorado, will soon get a welcome boost when additional water in Ruedi Reservoir near Basalt, Colorado, is made available to enhance streamflows during this increasingly concerning drought year.

The Bureau of Reclamation, which owns and manages Ruedi Reservoir, announced the good news on September 19, 2020 that additional water will be made available for endangered fish. This water is the result of collaboration among multiple partners. Foremost among these is XTO Energy (a subsidiary of ExxonMobil), who generously donated 5,000 acre-feet* of water in Ruedi to which they have rights, enabling its release for this purpose. In addition, the Ute Water Conservancy District in Grand Junction, the Colorado River District, and the Town of Palisade have stepped forward and collectively made 3,685 acre-feet of additional Ruedi Reservoir water available for the same need.

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photo of bull frog and spotted frog
Comparison photo of bullfrog (left) and Columbia spotted frog (right). Photos courtesy of Spencer Neuharth/USFWS and U.S. Forest Service.

Invasive or not?

California/Nevada edition

September 2020

Many invasive species look similar to the local plants and animals that belong in our backyards, deserts, forests and streams. Despite their ability to blend in, invasive species can be destructive to both native plants and animals, and humans.

They are often great adapters, and can outcompete important native species, disrupting ecosystems or causing native or rare species to decline. Conversely, native species help keep our ecosystems healthy and in balance.

Disclaimer: Invasive and non-native species are different concepts. A plant or animal can be non-native in an ecosystem, but not necessarily harmful or invasive. Yet, an invasive species is a non-native that always has a severe impact on the ecosystem it is “invading.”

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photo of Crossroads Anglers Fly Fishing Club members holding their brook trout that they caught
Crossroads Anglers Fly Fishing Club members, George P. Forte and Mike Cree pose with two of the brook trout they caught this May. Photo by George P. Forte

Casting for Community Connections

How one national fish hatchery became a lifeline during a challenging time.

September 2020

Right now, it is easy to get caught up in everything we can’t do. With safety restrictions in place, many of us miss the yearly milestones that define our summer and autumn months. From fireworks and fairs to concerts and fishing tournaments, we can’t help but yearn for these moments that bring us together.

Communities are rising to the challenge, finding creative and safe ways to connect with one another whether through social media or social distancing. Our national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries have stepped up, as well, providing virtual programming like this live series from John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia or this butterfly walk recorded by staff at Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge in Connecticut. We’ve reached out to visitors through crafts and scavenger hunts, with mindfulness-minute videos and photography contests.

While these creative alternatives have been met with enthusiasm (and we have been more than happy to provide environmental interpretation), we are a fish and wildlife organization. If we can inspire visitors to do only one thing, it’s to head outdoors.

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photo of Baker Holden III Deputy Project leader at Lodi FWO
Baker Holden, Deputy Project Leader. Photo credit: USFWS

Baker Holden III, deputy project leader, Lodi FWO

September 2020

You’ve worked for the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management, and this is your second stint with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Why did you come back?

I like the mission, and I found the culture was welcoming and one I could thrive in. I saw opportunities here because it’s all about what you do and what you can bring as a person. They’re making a big effort to support diversity, talk about it openly and take concrete steps to move forward. 

What is special to you about the Service's mission?

People know the Service lists endangered and threatened species, but we also do oil spill response, we manage invasive species, and this is where the national fish hatcheries are held. There’s variety to the mission, and all of it converges around protecting natural resources for future generations.

How did you get interested in becoming a biologist?

I used to go fishing and hunting with my father and uncle when I was growing up in Arkansas, and I’d get a comparative anatomy lesson from my father on the fish and squirrel and rabbit, and also learn the importance of balance: Only take what we need. When I got to college, I had a temporary job with the U.S. Forest Service in Gasquet, California, which was a great experience. I learned something new every day and experienced new things. It was the first time I’d snorkeled and learned how to identify fish and salamanders, the first time I went camping. It had me hooked.

How has your career path influenced your approach as the Lodi FWO’s deputy project leader? 

The job I have now was not in my perspective of life opportunities as a teenager. So I’m developing a program to reach out to people about opportunities working in natural resources. We do events locally, where we try to provide individuals a first-time positive experience with natural resource activities, particularly individuals who might not have thought of it as a career option before. One example was a program earlier this year, when our biologists worked with Riverview Middle School students to help them sample river water and conduct measurements and experiments. 

What advice do you have for young people starting out in the Service?

Be nice to everyone and treat everyone with respect and dignity. That’s a goal I strive for personally. But the federal service is also more connected than you know, and it comes around. If you have a long career in the federal service, you never know who’s going to be your boss.

Baker Holden III grew up in West Helena, Arkansas, a small town in the heart of Delta Blues country. While earning a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, he worked summers for the U.S. Forest Service on what is now Smith River National Recreation Area. He has since worked in natural resource management at several California sites as well as in New Mexico, Oregon and Washington state. He and his wife, Laura, married in 2002 and have two children, 11-year-old Samara and 6-year-old Graham. Baker is also a singer and “very so-so guitar player” who collects video games and comic books, and enjoys fishing, nature watching and knitting.  

Perkinsville Culvert Replacement

August 2020

This time lapse video shows a crew from the US Fish and Wildlife Service installing a pre-fabricated bridge in Perkinsville, VT to restore the free flow of a tributary to the Mill Brook in the Upper Connecticut River basin. The bridge replaces an undersized culvert that blocked fish passage and created an erosion issue. The project also involved the removal of a small dam approximately 200 ft upstream of the bridge site. The project reopens access for brook trout to high quality habitat in cooler tributary streams for spawning and rearing.

Time lapse video compiled by Dave Sagan (NWRS)

Learn more about the National Fish Passage Program

photo of field staff in West Virginia with the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service
Learning the benefits of dam removal along the West Fork River. Photo credit: USFWS

West Fork River Restoration visited by Director Skipwith

August 2020

Service field staff in West Virginia had a chance to show U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Director Aurelia Skipwith some of the great conservation work being accomplished in the state. On August 20, Director Skipwith met with local officials from the Clarksburg Water Board, American Rivers, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, and Service staff from the Appalachian Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office and the West Virginia Ecological Services Office to witness the states’ largest river restoration project on the West Fork River. Three dams have been removed and a fourth modified to allow the river to flow freely, returning safe passage to fish and paddlers moving up and down the river. Indeed, fish now have access to 491 miles of mainstem river and its tributaries. More than 61,000 pounds of trash were also removed during the restoration of the river - including 1,212 tires, several televisions, and even a car. And river banks were restored. Put it all together, water quality has improved with reduced water treatment costs, and recreation has increased along the river. Clarksburg Water Board reports a savings of at least $50,000 dollars a year in water treatment costs.

Learn more about the National Fish Passage Program

photo of the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife  Service at White Sulphus Springs National Fish Hatchery
Director Skipwith learns about the great work taking place while visiting White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery. Photo credit: USFWS

Director Skipwith visits White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery

August 2020

White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery, West Virginia, welcomed a special guest on Saturday, August 22 – Director Aurelia Skipwith, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The Director stopped at the hatchery during her tour of Service facilities in the state. She learned about the important roles that the hatchery and the Service’s National Broodstock Program play in providing disease-free rainbow trout to state and tribal recreational fishing programs across the country. And then she got in the water, assisting staff with spawning some trophy-sized rainbow trout broodstock. She toured the hatchery’s Aquatic Resource and Recovery Center where she saw and heard about our efforts to restore native, threatened, and endangered species of freshwater mussels, candy darters, and crayfish. She also learned about the exciting outdoor activities that the hatchery has to offer to the public. We hope Director Skipwith had as much fun as we did during her visit! 

Learn more about White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery

photo of a lake sturgeon's barbels
Lake sturgeon barbels. Lower Great Lakes Office/USFWS

Undaunted: Lake Sturgeon of the Niagara

A multi-perspective account of one of New York’s most resilient fish.

August 4, 2020

Two hundred years ago, when the Tuscarora Nation settled near the Niagara River, lake sturgeon were plentiful.

“Our word for sturgeon is the same word for dandelion,” said Neil Patterson Jr., citizen of the Tuscarora Nation, founder of the Tuscarora Environmental Program (TEP), and assistant director of the Center for Native Peoples & the Environment at SUNY-ESF located on Onondaga Territory (Syracuse, NY). “Dandelion bloom at the same time that sturgeon are present in the river.”

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Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office

image of Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers Alaska Invasive species sign

Alaska Invasive Species

July 2020 | by Aaron Martin

Alaska is rich with globally renowned freshwater and marine resources that are sought after for a host of cultural, commercial, and recreational purposes. These resources are one of the primary drivers of the state’s economy. For example, watercraft use generates a $587M annual economic impact and one in every nine residents owns a registered watercraft.  Furthermore, hydropower delivers over 21% of the energy to urban and remote corners of the state.

Unfortunately, the threat to these native and wild resources from invasive species entering Alaska is persistent, and includes highly invasive species such as quagga and zebra mussels. Alaska is one of only five western states not infested by invasive mussels and an invasion could have significant economic, ecological, and cultural impacts to Alaska’s vibrant salmon and trout fisheries. Recognizing the threat to uninfested western states and provinces, state and federal agencies, tribes, and partners have made unprecedented efforts to contain the spread of invasive mussels in the West. Although the challenge is substantial, it is not insurmountable.

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Fairbanks Fish and Wildlife Field Office

photo of people fishing at a hatchery
Fishing is popular these days. Photo by USFWS

Despite Pandemic, National Fish Hatcheries Get the Job Done

July 14, 2020

As the country begins to reopen, responsible outdoor recreation is needed to support our nation’s social and economic recoveries. Fishing is one activity that may be enjoyed alone or with others while keeping a responsible social distance apart. It also supports local businesses such as tackle shops, boat rentals, guide services, motels, and local diners and restaurants.

Visiting a National Fish Hatchery System (NFHS) facility is an ideal way to spend quality time outdoors because many offer picnic tables, on-site fishing opportunities, walking paths, walking tours, and more. And don’t be surprised if you hear the joyous sounds of small children as they throw fish food into the water and see the fish swim to the surface for their own picnic.

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photo of a Niangua darter
The Niangua darter is a rare freshwater fish found only in central Missouri. Image courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Rare fish brings safe bridges to rural Missouri residents

July 2020 | by Jeff Finley

We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service work to conserve some of the rarest plants and animals in the country. The conservation effort to restore the Niangua darter, an endangered fish found only in central Missouri, has brought safer bridges to rural communities. The story of the Niangua darter demonstrates how the work of the Service’s National Fish Passage Program directly benefits the American public we serve.

The Niangua River winds northward through central Missouri, due south of the Lake of the Ozarks. Swimming along the bottom of the river lives a small fish, aptly named the Niangua darter.  Native to the north- flowing tributaries to the Osage River and found nowhere else in the world, the fish is listed as a federally threatened species and as state endangered by Missouri.

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Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office

National Fish Passage Program

photo of the director GLATOS holding a lake sturgeon
Chris Vandergoot, director of the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System, shows off a lake sturgeon that was fitted with a high-tech transmitter. (Submitted photo)

Scientists work to repopulate lake sturgeons

July 9, 2020

A fish whose ancestors date back at least 200 million years — possibly 300 million — came close to extinction 100 years ago. Lake Erie was once home to more of those fish than all of the other Great Lakes combined.

Today, the lake sturgeon is still listed as a threatened species in Ohio, which means anglers lucky enough to catch one must snap a photo and release it — quick. But a group of scientists plan to spend the next few decades replenishing populations of this ancient fish, particularly in the lake where they were once so plentiful.

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Ready to Rock Out

June 30, 2020

The musically talented staff at Makah National Fish Hatchery (WA) performed and recorded a soulful serenade to salmon and steelhead in this must-see music video! 

photo of D.C. Booth National Fish Hatchery
Located between Spearfish City Park and the Spearfish Campground, the grounds are open year-round and are free to the public.

Get Schooled on Fish Culture | The D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery & Archives

June 30, 2020

Whether patrons are seeking out a piece of American history, or they’re interested in getting up close and personal with Rainbow Trout, the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery & Archives in Spearfish has a wide variety of attractions for all.

The hatchery was established in 1896, making it one of the oldest operating hatcheries in the country. “It is a fun, family-friendly learning environment that is free, which is always nice when you’re traveling as a family,” said April Gregory, curator of collections and exhibits.

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photo of Albert Spells holding an Atlantic sturgeon
Albert Spells with an Atlantic sturgeon in the Cheapeake Bay. Credit: USFWS.

Albert Spells: Man of faith, champion of fish

June 30, 2020

Albert Spells tells a story about a small stream in Barnwell, South Carolina, that flows through a culvert under Route 278. His brother Carnell and friend Thomas dubbed it The Little Stream. The Little Stream was their favorite fishing hole as young teenagers.

“It wasn’t much of a stream, but it was ‘our stream,’” he said. “We could always catch fish at The Little Stream, and we thoroughly enjoyed fishing there.”

During spring break of his freshman year at South Carolina State College, they went to fish at The Little Stream. They found the stream and its banks filled with trash.

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photo of accepting award for John Heinz NWR 2019 USA Project of the Year award
John Heinz at Tinicum National Wildlife Refuge earned the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance 2019 Project of the Year Award. Pictured accepting the award with USA members are Refuge Manager Lamar Gore, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith and Counselor to the Interior Secretary Margaret Everson. Credit: USFWS. (This photograph was taken in August 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Join Forces to Increase Public Access for Outdoor Recreation

June 30, 2020

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) have reaffirmed an existing relationship that promises to benefit hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts for generations to come. A recently signed agreement builds on past successes between the Service and the USA by creating new volunteer opportunities for skilled union trades workers to engage in infrastructure and access projects on national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries.

The agreement will facilitate volunteer public service opportunities for USA members that will support outdoor recreation, environmental and recreational education and other opportunities on Service-managed lands. It also aligns with the administration’s commitment to maintain and expand recreational access on America’s public lands. Union volunteers will bring on the ground expertise and practical help needed to deliver our promise of access to all Americans.

News Release

photo of Megan Bradley holding an endangered Higgins Eye mussel
Megan Bradley at Endangered Higgins Eye release. Credit: USFWS.

Genoa NFH Mussel Biologist Earns Region's 2020 Science Excellence Award


Megan Bradley of the Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) recently received high honors for her achievements in furthering Aquatic Species Recovery through her work in freshwater mussel and fisheries science. She recently received the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Interior Region 3 2020 Award for Science Excellence. USFWS Interior Region 3 administers it's programs in the eight Midwestern states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.

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photo of a biologist stirs a mixture of pallid sturgeon eggs and milt
A biologist stirs a mixture of pallid sturgeon eggs and milt (sperm) during the fertilization process while wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in April 2020. Credit: Sam Stukel/USFWS.

Continuing aquatic conservation amid coronavirus

June 2020

Caring for millions of fish during the pandemic

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents unprecedented challenges to people’s work and daily life across the United States. As we ensure continued safety at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service facilities and public lands across the county, we also have millions of fish to care for across the National Fish Hatchery System!

Caring for fish is a 24/7 responsibility. Our hardworking staff and partners are rising to the challenge. Together, we are safely carrying out work needed to give anglers fish to catch, support local economies, and continue conservation and restoration efforts.

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Dream job

Kayak surveys provide important data for fish habitat on Clear Creek

June 5, 2020 | By John Heil

Imagine taking a kayak out on the water all day as a full-time job. Well, that’s exactly what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees from the Red Bluff office do for a portion of the year.

The work is critical for surveying Clear Creek for the presence of steelhead, rainbow trout and late-fall Chinook salmon nests known as redds.

“We primarily use this information to try and evaluate the effectiveness of our ongoing restoration projects on the creek,” said Ryan Schaefer, fish biologist for the Red Bluff office. “These surveys give us a good idea where the fish are spawning and if they are using the gravel that we’re putting in the creek to increase the available spawning area and hopefully help bolster salmonid populations.

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photo of biologist and machine for making fish food
Photo: Ann Gannam, supervisory fish biologist at Abernathy Fish Technology Center shows the science and machinery behind making nutritious food for fish, Credit: USFWS

Fish Food for Thought: Scientific Sustenance for Salmon

June 2020

Every day that I walk through the grounds of Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery (NFH), I see our production staff at work, tossing pellets of fish food into the raceways while young fish make the water’s surface boil with action. At other times, I see them pushing brooms slowly down the length of the enclosures, pushing waste to the drain without stirring it up into the water column. Fish production work has, in some ways, remained the same for decades. Fish need to be fed, ponds and raceways cleaned, water temperatures and flow checked and maintained.

But one aspect of hatchery work has changed a lot: fish food!

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photo of an adult silver carp
Adult silver carp. Photo by USFWS

Taking Back our Waters

May 22, 2020

The Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) is on the front line of the battle to protect the Great Lakes from invasion by Asian carp, a non-native fish with great potential to harm any ecosystem it invades.  The Columbia FWCO serves a pivotal role in implementing the national Control and Management Plan for Asian carps.  Bringing the latest science and technology to bear on challenging fisheries management problems is an important part of what FWCOs do.  The Columbia FWCO is developing new and innovative approaches to removing Asian carp from the major river systems connected to the Great Lakes.  They have developed new tools, such as the “electrified dozer trawl” that is being used to combat infestations of Asian carp in rivers and streams, backwaters and impoundments throughout the Midwest.  Situated along the Missouri River in central Missouri, the Columbia FWCO uses these new technologies to find and track Asian carp populations in the Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio and Great Lakes basins.

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Learn more about the Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office

photo of an Ontario lake trout
A face only a fish enthusiast could love — Lake Ontario lake trout. USFWS

Keeping fish stocking on schedule

May 15, 2020

Americans are getting used to things being in short supply. When it comes to fish, however, no need to worry. Our dedicated employees have you covered.

Fishing is one of America’s favorite outdoor activities, ranking near the top in terms of the number of people who participate. One in 7 Americans takes to the water with a rod and a reel to fish, adding $150 billion to local and regional economies every year.

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photo of spring run Chinook salmon
A spring-run Chinook salmon reaches the end of its migration below Lewiston Dam on the Trinity River, Sept. 23, 2019. Credit: John Heil/USFWS

The natural portfolio

Spring-run Chinook salmon - essential to life history diversity

By John Heil/USFWS | May 8, 2020

In northern California, springtime is marked by wildflower blooms, bird migrations, swollen rivers, and the return of the first salmon of the year to the Klamath River – spring-run Chinook salmon.

This genetically-based life history strategy of Chinook salmon is not only critical to the genetic diversity of the species and the economy for fishing, but also provides a vital source of food and other cultural value for indigenous people of the Klamath Basin.

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photo of staff stocking fish
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) employee Nick Bloomfield stocks rainbow trout , in Stillwell Lake on South Post at Fort McCoy, Wis. Photo Credit: Scott Sturkol/USFWS

Thousands of rainbow trout stocked at Fort McCoy in time for 2020 fishing season

By Scott Sturkol | May 11, 2020

Approximately 15,000 rainbow trout were stocked at several lakes and ponds April 27-29 at Fort McCoy by workers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Genoa National Fish Hatchery of Genoa, Wis.

USFWS personnel delivered the trout which averaged at least 10 inches, said Fisheries Biologist John Noble with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch. Trout were stocked in Suukjak Sep, Sandy, Stillwell, and Big Sandy lakes and Sparta and Swamp ponds.

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photo of staff cleaning raceway at a hatchery
Staff cleans raceways at the Hatchery, Credit: USFWS

Fish Tales: Fish and Humans Aim for Health at Hatcheries

By Julia Pinnix, Visitors Services Manager, Leavenworth National Fisheries Complex | May 2020

Every now and then, Andy Goodwin, the Pacific Region Fish Health Program Manager for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, sends out a newsletter packed with photos and detailed descriptions about fish diseases.. I spent some time recently going back over some of those newsletters, and was struck by the parallels between how we approach fish health and the precautions we are taking with human health at this time.

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Paddlefish Restoration

May 2020

Restoring paddlefish back to their historical range is a team effort between the Oklahoma Department Department of Wildlife Conservation, Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery, and researchers at Oklahoma State University.


Jordan River National Fish Hatchery - Hunt/Fish Rule

May 2020

Hunting on Hatchery Lands

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing new hunting opportunities. Jordan River National Fish Hatchery (MI) will be opening 79 acres of hatchery land to hunting. The land is suited for big game, upland game, and game bird hunting. Hunters will need to comply with state of Michigan hunting seasons and regulations.


photo of a Pacific salmon
Photo credit: USFWS

Creature Comforts – Home School with Us! Learn How to Give Salmon a Home from the Comfort of Yours

USFWS Columbia Pacific Northwest | April 16, 2020

Howdy humans! Does all this time at home have you going a bit stir crazy? Well we Pacific salmon are envious. We spend our entire lives just trying to make it home and we are pretty exhausted by the time we get there. Just like you, we like a nice place to come home to, especially when things are tough out there. And just like you, we need others to help us along the way. Which means this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship! You can help make our migratory mission a bit easier and we can teach you a little bit about going with the flow.

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