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Ecology Units & Centers

National Stream & Aquatic Ecology Center

   Wildlife Ecology Unit

Fish & Aquatic Ecology Unit

Stream Systems Technology Center


Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air & Rare Plants

Program Leader:
Acting - Cam Thomas

Cameron Thomas is Acting Program Leader through February 2015

Assistant Program Leader:
Nat Gillespie

Regional Program Leaders
(Includes other Watershed staffs)
(PDF 66.8 KB)

Program Initiatives:
Bring Back the Natives
Fish Facts
Rise to the Future
FishWatch (official)
FishWatch (program description)
National Fishing Week
Recreational Fishing

National Stream and Aquatic Ecology Center:
Dave Levinson
Brett Roper
Dan Merritt
Dan Cenderelli

Related Topic Area:

Threatened, Endangered & Sensitive Species Program (TES)

Ecosystem Services

Downloadable Documents:

Publications & Reports

Rise To The Future 2004 Task Force Report (pdf) 642KB

Benchmarking Study (172 KB) of USDA Forest Service Fisheries and Aquatic Ecology Programs


Critical Watershed for Freshwater Species

Salmon Cam (Alaska)

Fish includes the National Fisheries Program and the National Fish & Aquatic Ecology Unit.

The National Fisheries Program assists field biologists in attaining the Chief's aquatic priorities and manage aquatic resources from a healthy ecosystem perspective.

Program Initiatives include "Bring Back the Natives" and "Rise to the Future". "Initiatives" are special topics to which we give added emphasis through projects, events, literature and funding. The intent of our varied Initiatives is to help us and our partners move forward to accomplish specific management goals for certain key issues.

The focus of the National Stream and Aquatic Ecology Center is on developing tools and science applications for the more effective management and conservation of watersheds, streams, riparian ecosystems, fisheries and aquatic ecosystems on National Forests and Grasslands.

NRIS Water Module

Issue Updates

2014 Rise to the Future and other natural resource awards - Call for Nominations

Reply Due: December 19, 2014

2013 Jack Adams Award

Bobby Grinstead (retired), Forest Fisheries Biologist, National Forests in Florida.

Rise to the Future 2013

    Award Winners - Details: PDF 180 KB

    Aquatic Recreational Accomplishment
    The Happy Meadows Team, including the South Park Ranger District on the Pike and San Isabel National Forests and Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands

    Collaborative/Integrated Aquatic Stewardship
    The Allegheny Watershed Improvement Needs (WINS) Coalition is recognized for their collaborative and aquatic stewardship on the Allegheny National Forest. Formed in 2007 by representatives of 28 municipal, county, state, federal government agencies, non-profit organizations such as the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, and local watershed organizations, the WINs partners have completed over 50 watershed restoration projects and over 20 river and reservoir cleanups on the Allegheny National Forest. The WINs partners have brought $4.8 million in external funding to the Forest, provided more than 5,000 volunteer days to Forest projects and reached over 10,000 students through 60 environmental education and outreach events.

    Friend of the Fish/Watershed
    Mike Karr of the Diamond Lake Ranger District on the Umpqua National Forest is recognized for his leadership in road decommissioning, aquatic organism passage crossings, and road maintenance on the Umpqua National Forest. Mike has dedicated his entire twenty-five year career to the Umpqua NF, and as the road maintenance and project team leader he has developed many innovative approaches to road decommissioning, fisheries restoration and biochar creation. He is also sought after for his knowledge and high quality work in neighboring National Forests and collaborative approach.

    Line Officer
    Lynn Burditt on the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area earned the Line Office Award for her sustained support and outstanding leadership for watershed stewardship programs. As the Scenic Area Manager for the CRGNSA and Deputy Forest Supervisor on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Lynn helped guide two large-scale, complex dam removals: the Hemlock dam removal in the Wind River watershed in 2009 and the East Channel Dam removal on the Lower Sandy River in 2013. Lynn’s commitment to process and diplomacy and collaboration skill were key to completing these intricate projects, which will benefit a host of important fish species in the Lower Columbia River basin.

    The Big Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited is recognized for their dedication to restoring the Blackfoot River in partnership with the Seeley Lake Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest and the on the Lincoln Ranger District of the Helena National Forest. Since 1987 this diverse group of stakeholders used a voluntary approach to achieve an impressive range of habitat restoration projects, particularly on private lands adjacent to the Forest boundary, and is a key partner in the Southwest Crown of the Continent CFLRP. Some of the Chapter’s accomplishments include over 100 miles of instream habitat restored, over 600 miles of spawning habitat opened to aquatic organism passage and 26 fish screen systems installed on irrigation diversions within the Blackfoot River watershed.

    Professional Excellence - Fish Management
    Dr. Nick Schmal of the Eastern Regional Office is recognized for his outstanding leadership and service in aquatic resource conservation for 34 years. As the fisheries program leader for Region 9, he has helped developed strong programs in aquatic organism passage, watershed restoration and aquatic nuisance species prevention by effectively working across a range of FS staff areas and by collaborating with a host of partners. He is esteemed by his peers as a networker, mentor and consistent supporter of fisheries and watershed programs in the field. Prior to working in Region 9, Nick worked as a district fish biologist (R6), a forest fish biologist (R2), a fish-habitat relationships program leader (R2), and a regional fisheries program leader (R3), making important contributions in each of these roles to the agency and to his peers.

    Richard Standage from the Ouachita National Forest is recognized for his excellence in fisheries and aquatic resource management with the Forest Service over his 35 year career. As the first fisheries biologist on the Sequoia National Forest, Richard authored the Interagency Environmental Assessment for the recovery of the threatened Little Kern Golden Trout. He served on the George Washington National Forest where he was instrumental in funding groundbreaking acid rain research with partners and signing the first national level Cooperative

    Agreement in the nation with the Forest, the state of Virginia and Trout Unlimited. Serving the Ouachita NF since 1990, Richard has been a leading force in fish passage restoration and in research and restoration for a host of Threatened & Endangered aquatic species such as the Leopard Darter, Dusky Darter, Ouachita Madtom and Kiamichi Crayfish.

    Public Awareness
    Peter Schneider of the Tongass National Forest’s Juneau Ranger District is recognized his innovative accomplishments and outstanding public relations efforts with the Steep Creek Salmon Cam at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center outside of Juneau, Alaska. Started 19 years ago, Peter’s dedication saw this project through many technological and administrative hurdles. This underwater camera provides visitors with real-time footage of spawning sockeye salmon at the Visitor Center, and is streamed to the internet as an extremely popular Nature Watch experience for public consumption. Of all Forest Service related videos, the Salmon Cam had the most viewed time at 10,300 hours, the second most total views at 27,600, the greatest number of “likes” and the most comments. Peter has collaborated with other Forest Service, state and US Fish & Wildlife Service biologists to develop and apply this technology to various video fish tracking projects across the state.

    Tribal Accomplishment
    The Nez Perce Tribe Department of Fisheries Management is recognized for their commitment to aquatic habitat restoration and their outstanding partnership with the Nez Perce-Clearwater, Payette and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests in Regions 1, 4 and 6. Since 1996 the Tribe and these National Forests have partnered on an impressive array of projects totaling more than $40 million, including 150 aquatic barriers replaced or removed, over 1000 miles of road decommissioned, and 108 instream habitat improvement structures installed. The Tribe’s Research Division has collected important fish population data on over 200 miles of river, and the Production Division has undertaken important hatchery production and has spearheaded various education efforts incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge in strategies to restore Pacific Lamprey, Chinook Salmon, Bull Trout and Steelhead Trout.

    Jim Sedell Research Achievement
    Dr. Wendell Haag of the Southern Research Station is recognized for his sustained and cohesive research program on the ecology of freshwater mussels. This research has led to fundamental advances in the understanding of mussel ecology and their complex life histories, growth and life span, and reproductive traits. For example, his research has identified a number of remarkable adaptations that mussels have developed to attract specific fish hosts which transport larval mussels to new habitats. In collaboration with partners, Wendell has produced nearly 40 peer-reviewed papers and a seminal book, North American Freshwater Mussels: Ecology, Natural History, and Conservation that have advanced the understanding and conservation of these highly-imperiled aquatic species.

    Special Category for “Lifetime Achievement”
    Dr. Gordon Reeves of the Pacific Northwest Research Station, among his many contributions to the agency, is recognized for his research to understand the potential impacts of climate change on the structure and function of aquatic and riparian ecosystems and how they influence the distribution, population and life-histories of Pacific salmon in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Gordie has published over 50 papers on the freshwater ecology of Pacific salmon and trout. His breadth of knowledge and experience derived from applied, field-based research to large-scale ecosystems conceptualizations and modeling efforts has impacted a wide array of internal and external partners and stakeholders. Gordie has used a holistic perspective and deep commitment to the resource to connect with and inform decision-makers, successfully collaborate with numerous university faculty, and mentor the next generation of fisheries scientists.

    Special Category for “Mentoring”
    Terry Kaplan-Henry of the Sequoia National Forest is recognized for her exceptional dedication to mentoring in the field in forest hydrology. Known as a leader in meadow restoration, burned area restoration and collaboration in Sierra Nevada Mountains, Terry has excelled in her service as a teacher, mentor and trainer to a new generation of scientists for over 20 years. She has invested countless hours training a diverse group of students ranging from high school to post graduate studies, many of whom have chosen careers in hydrology, natural resources and the Forest Service.

Disclaimers | Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) | Privacy Notice

Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air & Rare Plants (WFW)
Washington, D.C. Office
Author: Shelly Witt, National Continuing Education Coordinator, WFW staff
Phone: 435-881-4203
Expires: none

Photo Credits

USDA Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C. 20090-6090
(202) 205-8333