Bring Back the Natives - Conservation of Native Fishes
What is Bring Back the Natives?
Bring Back the Natives is a national effort by the Department
of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, and the National
Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore the health of entire
riverine systems and their native species. National, State,
and local partners and volunteers are matching our commitment
to Bring Back the Natives! Together, we are undertaking the
following vital public land management initiatives that target
key habitats and animal and plant species, as well as water
Fish and Wildlife 2000: A plan to improve management of fish,
wildlife, and their habitats on BLM's public lands between now
and the year 2000.
Riparian-Wetland Initiative for the 1990's: BLM's initiative
to restore 75 percent of riparian and wetland habitats on public
lands by 1977.
Rise to the Future: A program to enhance fisheries and aquatic
resources on national forests and grasslands.
Every Species Counts: The Forest Service program to conserve
sensitive flora and fauna and to recover threatened and endangered
fish, wildlife, invertebrates, and plants.
Get Wild!: A Forest Service program that includes protection
and improvement of riparian and wetland habitats, and conservation
of the associated animals and plants.
What Do We need to Bring Back the Natives?
The health of our Nation's aquatic habitats seems to be delining
at an alarming rate. The 1982 Nationwide Rivers Inventory found
that fewer than 2 percent of our streams in the contiguous 48
States remained at "high natural quality." Many of
our native fish and aquatic species such as mussels, snails,
and aquatic insects are sensitive indicators of water quality
and have declined as aquatic habitats have deteriorated. At
least 40 species and subspecies of freshwater fish have become
extinct because of habitat alteration, introduction of exotic
species, pollution, or overfishing. During the past decade,
there has been a 45-percent increase in the number of freshwater
North American fishes at the risk of extinction. For many of
these aquatic species, public lands are the last remaining stronghold
of suitable habitats. This awareness must lead to constructive
actions to restore these vital aquatic ecosystems.
For some streams, restoration is complex and time-consuming.
For others, nature needs only a little help - such as planting
trees and modifying grazing or logging practices - to restore
degraded quality. However, success can only come from an effective
team effort by Federal and State agencies and the private sector.
It takes concerted effort, commitment, and the support of partners
to get the job done and Bring Back the Natives.
Status of Aquatic Resources on Public Lands
Restoration is needed for many aquatic habitats and native
fish communities. Historic impacts from improper mining techniques
and livestock management, poor timber practices, and faulty
road construction have degraded many habitats that are critical
for conservation of biodiversity and water quality. Waters on
public lands offer tremendous opportunities to improve degraded
sites, recover threatened and endangered species, and conserve
other rare aquatic species. The BLM and the Forest Service are
committed to making the most of these opportunities, including
efforts to enhance the experiences of public land visitors.
The more than 461 million acres of multiple-use lands managed
by the BLM and Forest Service contain many threatened or endangered
status. BLM and the National Forest System lands harbor almost
69 percent of the threatened and endangered fish species in
the United States and more than one-half of those fish that
are candidates for Federal listing. Conservation efforts on
public lands can make a critical difference to the survival
of these vulnerable species.
Who Benefits from Bring Back the Natives?
Endangered and Threatened Species: Habitat restoration, species
reintroduction, and sound land management will aid the recovery
of vulnerable species.
Other Sensitive Species: Conservation of entire aquatic communities
will provide protection to the growing number of candidate and
sensitive species that might otherwise decline further and require
formal protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Recreational Anglers: Restoration and careful management of
habitat for native gamefish species, such as Bonneville cutthroat
trout and bull trout, will expand and diversify quality recreational
All Those Who Live Downstream: Healthy riparian vegetation
along streams purifies waters by trapping silt and other pollutants,
slows river flow to increase groundwater recharge, dissipates
flood energy, and cools water by shading. The results are better
water quality and more consistent flows.
Others: Quality riparian and wetland habitats provide the wildland
setting sought by many public and land visitors wishing to simply
relax and experience nature.