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Weekly Highlights

MEMORANDUM

From: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, February 6, 2014

Departmental/Bureau News - Current

Feral Hog Research Presented to TNC Staff: USGS NWRC Geographer Steve Hartley presented the latest findings from his research on feral hogs during The Nature Conservancy’s Central U.S. Division Science, Stewardship, and Conservation Conference on January 23, in New Orleans. The meeting highlighted cutting edge conservation strategies, emphasizing the best of emerging implementation practices for TNC staff from throughout the region and beyond. NWRC researchers are using the “Judas pig” system of attaching GPS-satellite telemetry collars to select feral swine, an invasive species. Once a collar has been attached to an individual, usually a large boar or sow, it is released and returns to its group. The group’s movements and locations can then be tracked through the collared individual, the “Judas pig,” allowing researchers and managers to better target removal efforts. Because of detrimental impacts of feral hogs—including rooting, damaging agricultural lands, destroying the habitats of native animals, and spreading diseases and parasites—many public lands implement control programs on an annual basis. (Steve Hartley; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8543)

GCP LCC Steering Committee Meets: The Rio Grande Joint Venture hosted the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative Steering Committee meeting in McAllen, Texas, January 7-9. Over 50 participants attended the meeting and participated in the trip to the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, including 10 officials from 6 Mexican agencies and nongovernmental organizations. The Committee accepted the list of 28 focal species that the Science Team recommended to serve as the foundation for guiding Strategic Habitat Conservation science-support activities. The Committee decided to increase engagement with private land owners in an effort to encourage discussion on incorporating priority conservation efforts into the private lands landscape. The Steering Committee also welcomed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers into the partnership. The LCCs address complex landscape conservation that no one agency or organization can address alone. Partnerships present an opportunity to collaboratively plan and efficiently leverage tax payer dollars to advance conservation. GCP LCC personnel are located at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center. (Kristen Kordecki; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8535)

LCC Coordinators Discuss Direction: LCC Coordinators and Science Coordinators from across the country met in Kansas City, Missouri, January 29-31, for a staff workshop. The goal of the workshop was to evaluate the current state of the LCCs and position them to be more successful in reaching the vision and mission of the LCC Network. Discussions led to the identification of several options to achieve this goal, with the top two priorities being the need to focus on developing a National Strategic Plan and a National Science Agenda. GCP LCC personnel are located at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center. (Kristen Kordecki; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8535)

USGS Participates in GOMA Federal Work Group Meeting: USGS NWRC Branch Chief Scott Wilson and Ecologist Kate Spear participated in the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) Federal Work Group Webinar on January 30. Presentations were given by Billy Causey, Director of the National Marine Sanctuaries Program for the Southeast, Gulf and Caribbean, and by Laura Algeo and Larry Voice from FEMA Regions IV and VI. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is a partnership of the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, with the goal of significantly increasing regional collaboration to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico. GOMA has identified priority issues that are regionally significant and can be effectively addressed through increased collaboration at local, State, and Federal levels. (Kate Spear; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8645)

CWPPRA Celebrates World Wetlands Day: USGS National Wetlands Research Center contractor and Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act Outreach Coordinator Susan Testroet-Bergeron and NWRC contractor and Media Specialist Cole Ruckstuhl participated in a World Wetlands Day celebration on February 3, at the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center in Houma, Louisiana. World Wetlands Day, which is internationally recognized, marks the signing of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971. This is the fifth year that the Wetlands Discovery Center has offered a program to teach local children about the importance of wetlands and local ecology. The staff of CWPPRA, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Bayouland RC&D participated in the event. About 230 children from Village East Elementary, Southdown Elementary and St. Francis de Sales schools attended the program. (Susan Testroet-Bergeron; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

NWRC Participates in 15th Annual Career Connections Expo: USGS NWRC staff participated in Lafayette’s annual Career Connections event on February 4. Career Connections provides tenth graders with an opportunity to explore a variety of career options while meeting the people who perform these jobs on a daily basis. Through pre- and post-event classroom exercises, students begin to become aware of the links between the realities of living expenses and choices they make regarding education, vocational, and career decisions. More than 4,400 students participated this year. NWRC scientists Janelda Biagas, Heather Birdsong, Jacoby Carter, and Ches Vervaeke, along with Information Specialist Gabrielle Bodin, educated the students about science careers while using various innovative props to pique students’ interest. NWRC participates in this event annually. The Obama Administration’s Educate to Innovate campaign strives to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and encourages efforts to help young people across America excel in science and math. (Gabrielle Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

BTNEP Holds Management Conference: USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed, Branch Chief Scott Wilson, and Ecologist Michael Osland attended the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) Management Conference in Thibodaux, Louisiana, on February 6. The meeting was held to discuss Mississippi River diversions from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the State of Louisiana’s perspectives. The BTNEP Management Conference meets quarterly to provide direction and oversight to the BTNEP Program Office. (Scott Wilson; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8644)

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