Wrapping up the Maine and Atlantic Crew Area

Written by Mark Koneff
Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Photo of Mark Koneff.After frequent weather or equipment-related delays, we arrived in Labrador on the first of June to be greeted by a short window of forecasted favorable weather. We made the most of it, flying several long days in a row to finish off our survey area and ferry part way home prior to rain, snow, and ice shutting things down again in Labrador. Overall, conditions in Labrador were good, though phenology was a little delayed from average. Some of the higher elevation terrain (especially in the east) and the northern-most surveyed latitudes were still under snow pack and many of the larger bodies still locked in ice. That’s not all that unusual for this time of year in Labrador. As I write this, all our Branch’s crews have completed their assigned areas and returned home safely. Our colleagues in Alaska, however, were plagued by aircraft maintenance issues that at one point left them without aircraft to complete priority waterfowl surveys in the state; surveys which are critical components of our continental monitoring program and are essential to setting hunting seasons for certain species or populations. Fortunately, we were able to loan two of our Branch’s aircraft to our Alaska Region after they were no longer needed in more southern crew areas. We also were able to offer the assistance of one of our Branch’s biologist-pilots to assist in completing priority surveys in Alaska. It’s never surprising, but always gratifying, to see the dedicated and passionate staff in the Service come together to pull off another continental survey effort. I’m proud to be a small part of it.

Higher elevations, here in the Mealy Mountains east of Goose Bay-Happy Valley, Labrador, were still locked in ice and snow at the time of the survey.  Credit:  M. Koneff, USFWS

Higher elevations, here in the Mealy Mountains east of Goose Bay-Happy Valley, Labrador, were still locked in ice and snow at the time of the survey. Credit: M. Koneff, USFWS

Narrow band of turndra and barrenlands along the Labrador coast are in contrast to the heavily forested interior.  Credit: M. Koneff, USFWS

Narrow band of turndra and barrenlands along the Labrador coast are in contrast to the heavily forested interior. Credit: M. Koneff, USFWS

Labrador is the land of waterfalls... Credit: M. Koneff, USFWS

Labrador is the land of waterfalls... Credit: M. Koneff, USFWS

Forest floor in Labrador is covered by a think, uniform blanket of lichen, made more visibile in areas previously affected by fire. Credit: M. Koneff, USFWS

Forest floor in Labrador is covered by a think, uniform blanket of lichen, made more visibile in areas previously affected by fire. Credit: M. Koneff, USFWS

North coast of Newfoundland (foreground) and south coast of Labrador are separated by the Strait of Belle Isle. Credit: M. Koneff, USFWS

North coast of Newfoundland (foreground) and south coast of Labrador are separated by the Strait of Belle Isle. Credit: M. Koneff, USFWS

Many parts of interior Labrador are heavily forested. Its easy to fly 200 mile transect lines without seeing any sign of human habitation. Credit:  M. Koneff, USFWS

Many parts of interior Labrador are heavily forested. Its easy to fly 200 mile transect lines without seeing any sign of human habitation. Credit: M. Koneff, USFWS