Region 1

LaRee Brosseau

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) staff coordinated with the Sierra National Forest, Madera County, and the California Highway Patrol to protect a pair of adult bald eagles and their nestling on Bass Lake in Madera County. A local eagle expert reported to us that the adult eagles became agitated when people stopped on a county road below the nest to videotape the eagles. The Forest Service and Madera County quickly responded to our concerns and closed the forest around the nest and erected “No Parking” signs along the county road. The California Highway Patrol also pledged its support in enforcing the road restrictions. Although eagles have been seen in the Bass Lake area for several years, this is the first known nest in recent times.

Contaminants This past June, Denise Baker and Jeff Krausmann from the FWS Environmental Contaminants Program responded to a gasoline spill at Whatcom Creek in northwestern Washington. The spill began around 4:30 p.m. on June 10, 1999, when a gasoline pipeline adjacent to the City of Bellingham Water Treatment Facility ruptured. The pipeline is owned by the Olympic Pipe Line Company, the same company that is proposing the Cross Cascade Pipeline in Washington. About 277,000 gallons (1.05 million liters) of gasoline were released downstream into Whatcom Creek and ignited, burning about 1.5 miles (0.6 kilometer) of the creek and riparian habitat. We assisted with the inventory of wildlife lost in the spill and fire, along with preliminary natural resource damage assessment work. As of June 15, an estimated 10,000-15,000 fish have been collected, including steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), chinook (O. tshawytscha) and coho (O. kisutch) salmon, and cutthroat trout (O. clarki). Two river otters (Lutra canadensis) have also been recovered. Preliminary natural resource damage assessment work includes preparing an emergency restoration plan and collecting sediment core samples from the creek bottom.

Hawaiian Fires A wildfire that began on August 4 burned over 10,000 acres (4,050 hectares) of dryland forest and shrubland on Hawaii’s Big Island, threatening several ancient Hawaiian religious and habitation sites. Army and State archaeologists and biologists are assessing the full extent and damage of the fire, which was finally extinguished on August 10.

Preliminary results of a recent Army-funded study indicate that wildfires are rapidly eliminating Hawaii’s unique dry forest ecosystem. Researchers have found that the invasive alien fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum), a species native to northern Africa, is creating a fine-fuel bed that carries wildfire through native forests that otherwise would not support wildfires. Army fire management officer Gayland Enriques cites alien vegetation, careless disposal of cigarettes and matches, unusually dry conditions, and a lack of interagency wildfire fighting strategies as reasons for the unusually large and catastrophic affects of wildfires that have occurred on the Big Island over the past week. Six species of endangered plants and numerous rare Hawaiian invertebrate and mollusk species, as well as habitat used by the Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cineureus semotus), have been affected by the fire.

The Army is developing a comprehensive fire management program to address control of wildfire in Hawaiian dryland ecosystems at a landscape scale. The Army’s program includes funding the development of a state-of-the-art fire hazard detection system and an intensive fuels management program. Cooperators in this effort include Federal and State organizations and private landowners, including the FWS, Forest Service, State Department of Land and Natural Resources, State Department of Transportation, and Parker Ranch.

Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) On August 11, 1999, FWS Western Washington Office staff presented “Wolves of the West” as part of the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge’s Summer Lecture Series. Over 100 people attended the talk, which discussed the Yellowstone and Idaho wolf reintroduction effort, the recent FWS Feasibility Study on the Reintroduction of Wolves to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, and gray wolf recovery efforts in the State of Washington.

LaRee Brosseau in the FWS Portland, Oregon, Regional Office.

COPYRIGHT 1999 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group