November is Manatee Awareness Month; but no matter what time of year it is, manatees deserve to be celebrated. These amazing creatures fulfill a unique niche by serving as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because of their reliance on the health of their habitat, manatees often act as a signal of their environment’s well-being. NOAA photo by Michael Buchanan.
Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), passed by Congress in 1980, mandates that rural residents of Alaska be given a priority for subsistence uses of fish and wildlife. In 1989, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that ANILCA's rural priority violated the Alaska Constitution. As a result, the Federal government manages subsistence uses on Federal public lands and waters in Alaska-about 230 million acres or 60 percent of the land within the state. To help carry out the responsibility for subsistence management, the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture established the Federal Subsistence Management Program.
Board and Councils
The program provides for public participation through the Federal Subsistence Board and 10 Regional Advisory Councils. The Board is the decision-making body that oversees the program. It is made up of the regional directors of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and U.S. Forest Service. Three public members (one of whom serves as chair) are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior with concurrence of the Secretary of Agriculture. The Regional Advisory Councils provide recommendations and information to the Board; review proposed regulations, policies and management plans; and provide a public forum for subsistence issues. Each Council consists of residents who are knowledgeable about subsistence and other uses of fish and wildlife resources in their region. The chairs of the Regional Advisory Councils and a representative of the State of Alaska are liaisons to the Federal Subsistence Board.
Another important element of the Federal subsistence program is fisheries research and monitoring. The Fisheries Resource Monitoring Program supports and funds research and monitoring projects that provide information needed for subsistence fisheries management and to ensure that regulatory decisions are based upon sound science. The Federal Subsistence Board, Regional Advisory Councils and fishery managers use this information when making regulatory decisions. Projects funded by the program are carried out by numerous organizations, including the State and Federal government agencies, universities, Alaska Native and rural organizations, and private contractors.