Daily Archives: March 26, 2015

Common goldeneye

Common Goldeneye

by Ted Beringer

Male Common goldeneye

Male Common goldeneye

 

 

In North America the Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) is a diving duck that winters across the United States but breeds in the boreal forests of Canada. For this reason, mining of tar sands that requires scouring the boreal forest is destroying critical habitat for these birds and many others that breed there. Construction of the XL pipeline intended to transport these tar sands across the United States for export will hasten this loss of habitat.

 

Description: The female has a milk chocolate brown head above a white neck ring.

Female Common goldeneye

Female Common goldeneye

Its eyes are pale yellow to white. It has a short, triangular black bill sometimes with a yellow to white tip. Its back, wings, and tail are slate gray. Its flanks, belly, and breast are white.

The male Common goldeneye has a greenish-black head with a dramatic golden-yellow eye as well as a conspicuous round white spot in front of each eye immediately behind its short black triangular bill. Its black back, tail and secondaries plus white flanks are easily apparent on the water.

Habitat: Their breeding habitat in North America is the boreal coniferous forest in North America with nearby lakes, rivers and bogs that have enough irregular shoreline to provide protective brood shelter. They nest in cavities in large trees especially in open-top or “bucket” cavities. They also use natural tree cavities created by broken limbs or tree cavities created by pileated woodpeckers and black woodpeckers.

            Diet: In the summer they prefer ponds without fish that compete for insects or even prey on their ducklings as in the case of Northern pike. The Common goldeneye forages underwater consuming mostly crustaceans (crayfish, crabs, shrimps & amphipods) and aquatic insects (naiads of dragonflies & damselflies) as well as some mollusks (especially blue mussel). They will also consume small fishes and their eggs, marine worms, and frogs. They enjoy aquatic plants like pondweeds, spatterdock, bulrush, and wild celery.

The common goldeneye is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies. However, both breeding and winter habitat of these birds has been degraded by clearance and pollution. For further information about the Common goldeneye, visit the following excellent websites:

 

http://www.nwf.org/~/media/PDFs/Global-Warming/2014/Tar-Sands-Fact-Sheet_Pelly-Amendment-UPDATE.pdf

http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/common-goldeneye

http://www.borealbirds.org/bird/common-goldeneye

NWF celebrates a new national monument: Colorado’s Brown Canyon

 

By Judith Kohler

Ourpubliclands.org

 

President Barack Obama’s plan to declare Colorado’s Browns Canyon a national monument means sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts will be able to enjoy its spectacular landscapes, world-class whitewater rafting and hunting and fishing for generations to come.

The White House announced in late February that Obama will designate use his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate Browns Canyon as a national monument.

“Browns Canyon is widely revered for its rafting, fishing, hunting, hiking, wildlife watching, and rugged backcountry,” said Collin O’Mara, the National Wildlife Federation’s CEO and president, “This is why folks from all walks of life, lawmakers from both parties, and conservation leaders across Colorado, including our state affiliate the Colorado Wildlife Federation, have worked for more than two decades to protect it.  On behalf of the entire National Wildlife Federation, we are grateful to the president for supporting wildlife and amazing outdoor experiences by permanently protecting this conservation jewel.”

Browns Canyon, about 140 miles southwest of Denver, is known nationwide for whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River. The Colorado River Outfitters Association said recreation on the river generated nearly $56 million in economic benefits in 2013. The area’s gulches, rocky cliffs, forests and meadows provide habitat for mule deer, elk, black bears, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, eagles and falcons. A 102-mile stretch of the Arkansas is classified as Gold Medal trout waters, based on the quality and quantity of fish. Hikers in Browns have great views of some of Colorado’s most dramatic Fourteeners – mountains more than 14,000 feet in elevation.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this. Making Browns Canyon a national monument has overwhelming support from the public, especially from people who live the closest to it. We know what we have and we don’t want to lose it,” said Bill Dvorak, NWF’s public lands organizer in Colorado and a longtime rafting and fishing guide on the Arkansas River.

News that Obama will proclaim Browns Canyon a national monument this week follows a recent public meeting in Salida that drew about 700 people. Former Sen. Mark Udall hosted the meeting in December so federal officials could gauge support for protecting Browns. Udall, Sen. Michael Bennet and Gov. John Hickenlooper asked Obama to use his executive authority after Udall’s bill to establish a monument stalled in Congress.

“Presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have used the Antiquities Act to conserve some of our country’s most stunning landscapes and important ecosystems. The Grand Canyon, Chaco Canyon and Muir Woods are just a few of the places set aside by presidents. We can add Browns Canyon to the list of American treasures that showcase the best of the natural resources that make us the envy of other countries around the world,” said Kent Ingram, Colorado Wildlife Federation president.

Join NWF in thanking President Obama for continuing to protect America’s outdoor heritage. Tweet: @WhiteHouse Thank you for protecting America’outdoor heritage. #BrownsCanyon #AntiquitiesAct @NWF

Majority of Roan Plateau leases canceled

 

17 of 19 leases on the Roan Plateau officially canceled.

By Meghan Cornwall

Ourpubliclands.org

 

On January 16th, 2015, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officially cancelled 17 of the 19 oil and gas leases that are on top of the Roan Plateau. This is in accordance to the settlement agreement reached in November 2014, stating that the leases had to be canceled within 60 days of the agreement. There are still 12 No Surface Occupancy leases at the base of the plateau. The BLM is working on a plan to allow the two remaining leases on top of the plateau and the 12 others near the base to be developed using directional drilling techniques.

Multiple stakeholders such as local, state, industry and conservation organizations, wanted to see a viable, balanced solution to support the wildlife, outdoor recreation, and energy development opportunities the Roan Plateau offers. The varied habitat and vegetation of the plateau make the area one of the most diverse places in Colorado. There are plants that are only found around the Roan Plateau, rare populations of native genetically pure Colorado River cutthroat trout (which are inhabiting only 10% of their historic range now) and many other species that depend on the plateau for their habitat. Because of these special species, the BLM has identified areas that are eligible as areas of critical environmental concern for protection.

“The Roan Plateau is a key part of the area economy and helps sustain the hunting, fishing, wildlife watching and other recreation. We appreciate a balanced settlement that will help to protect this important habitat,” said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation.

Additionally, the public lands on top and at the base of the plateau provide crucial winter and summer habitat, as well as migration corridors for big game such as mule deer and elk. Sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts come to the Roan to hunt, fish and watch wildlife. The area is at the heart of what had been nicknamed by sportsmen as the “mule deer factory of Colorado”, due to the abundant mule deer. Muley numbers, however, have plummeted in recent years. Western Colorado’s overall estimated deer population of about 300,000 in 2012 was more than 110,000 short of the state’s objective. While there are likely many causes for the drop in numbers, one looms large: habitat loss. Oil and gas drilling and new roads and buildings have fragmented and covered over habitat. Reducing the footprint of oil and gas development on the Roan will help address those habitat losses.             While the cancelation of these 17 leases is a great step forward, there is still work to be done. Sportsmen groups, conservation organizations, state, local and industry leaders will still need to collaborate during the drafting of the new Resource Management Plan. The BLM is currently writing the new management plan for the plateau and will consider a settlement alternative. It will hopefully include undisturbed big game winter ranges at the base of the plateau, intact big game migration corridors, state of the art drilling practices and no development in Colorado River Cutthroat Trout drainages to protect this iconic species.

Walleye tagging study at Milford Reservoir

 

Walleye will be tagged this spring at Milford Reservoir and tags returned by anglers will provide fisheries biologists with valuable information needed to manage the fishery. On April 1, biologists will begin tagging 500 walleye with numbered, blue plastic tags that will be inserted into fish near the dorsal fin. Anglers who catch a tagged fish and intend to keep it are asked to return the tag along with a completed tag reporting card, which can be obtained from the Milford State Park office, local businesses, and at www.ksoutdoors.com.

Because the success of this study depends on angler participation, those who return a tag will receive a limited-edition Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) “Walleye Research Team” hat. Awards will be mailed to anglers after staff receives the completed tag reporting card.

Returned tags will provide staff with information about a variety of population characteristics and trends in angling exploitation. The information obtained will also be used to guide walleye management at other Kansas reservoirs.

For more information on this study, contact the Emporia Research and Survey Office at (620) 342-0658.