ACJV Boosts Staff Capacity with USFWS Fellows

Over the summer of 2016, the ACJV took advantage of the relatively new “Directorate Fellows Program” (DFP), which offers students a paid internship with the USFWS for eleven weeks to work on specific projects. Melissa Althouse, a graduate student at SUNY-ESF who was about to finish her MS research on Roseate Terns at Cape Cod, was hired in the summer of 2016. Melissa pulled together GIS layers to prioritize saltmarsh habitat in the Northeast Region, and compiled parcel-level data for coastal New England to develop a tool for evaluating which landscapes would be the best fit for NRCS programs to protect, buffer, and restore saltmarsh habitat. In August, Melissa and ACJV staff met with NRCS state conservationists and biologists from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut to discuss the importance of saltmarsh habitat and to demonstrate how we could map focus areas where NRCS programs would be most effective, i.e., areas with large parcels of private land and current agricultural fields next to important saltmarshes. NRCS staff from all three states were very enthusiastic about working with ACJV partners on saltmarsh conservation, and have followed up regularly to move this effort forward. An additional DFP intern has been hired for the upcoming summer to finalize the NRCS maps that Melissa started in the Northeast (using new data layers that just came out);

Two other DFPs will be working on additional JV projects this summer, including mapping out managed impoundments in North Carolina that could provide important Black Rail habitat; and gathering energetics data on waterfowl, shorebirds and waterbirds to evaluate the tradeoffs of managing wetlands to meet the migration and wintering habitat needs of these three guilds of birds.