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State of the Birds Report

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Conservation Programs

A variety of government and nongovernmental organizations work to conserve private lands or offer incentive and assistance programs to private landowners to foster bird conservation on their lands. This is a sampling of programs mentioned in this report, but even more programs are available in state and local communities.


Ownbey easement of the Palouse Land Trust in Latah County, Idaho, by Justin Trujillo.


Nonprofit Organizations

Several nonprofit organizations offer landowners assistance with funding, technical
advice, and equipment to restore and maintain habitat on private lands.

The Nature Conservancy works to balance growing development needs with those of nature; build relationships with communities, companies and governments; and increase funding for large-scale conservation projects. The Nature Conservancy works with partners around the world to support policies that protect our lands and waters so that next generations can build secure and rewarding lives.

The National Audubon Society and its more than 500 local chapters and centers work to conserve bird habitat on private lands. Audubon staff often partner with landowners who own property inside Important Bird Areas on habitat enhancement projects, conservation easements, or even just to put up a birdhouse.

Ducks Unlimited works with landowners to protect and restore the value of their land for waterfowl while also improving the recreational value and compatible
agriculture. DU accomplishes continental-scale conservation through partnerships with private and public landowners and public policy focused on conservation provisions of the Farm Bill, the North American Wetlands Conservation
Act, tax incentives associated with easements, and Duck Stamps.

The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative is the unified strategic effort of 25 state wildlife agencies and various conservation organizations—all under the umbrella of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee—to restore wild populations of quail. NBCI works with state and federal agencies, research institutes, and nongovernment organizations on policy, planning, and evaluation to implement habitat-based conservation of bobwhites and complementary species.

The Ruffed Grouse Society employs a team of wildlife biologists who work with private landowners throughout the United States to improve their land for Ruffed Grouse, American Woodcock, and other wildlife with similar habitat requirements. RGS seminars aid private landowners and land managers in managing forests for wildlife.

Pheasants Forever works through its local and county chapters, and its quail division Quail Forever, to partner with farmers, ranchers, and other landowners
on grassland habitat conservation projects, such as technical assistance from biologists and prescribed burns on private lands. Pheasants Forever also assists landowners with enrolling in federal and state habitat conservation programs.

The National Wild Turkey Federation teams with the federal, state, and corporate partners to deliver private lands conservation efforts that benefit game birds and many other wildlife species. They provide landowner assistance through planning, cost-share, technical assistance, and contract services. Their primary focus is on enhancing forested habitats such as longleaf pine/wiregrass, Ponderosa pine, central Appalachian hardwoods, and western riparian corridors.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology develops science-driven conservation plans and land management guidelines, giving private landowners the tools and information
necessary to enhance and create habitat for birds and other wildlife. Cornell
Lab scientists often partner with national game and nongame conservation groups to implement these plans and protect and grow wildlife populations.

Klamath Bird Observatory works with partners in the Pacific Northwest to guide restoration on private lands. By incorporating habitat components that directly benefit birds into restoration planning, the observatory applies an ecological approach that builds on traditional vegetation management. Bird and vegetation monitoring are incorporated into private lands restoration projects to evaluate and demonstrate the return of ecological integrity and to inform future restorations.

The PRBO Conservation Science Working Lands Program extends research and monitoring findings to conservation applications on the ground. Through a partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, PRBO Conservation Science assists with using Farm Bill programs to plan, design, implement, and further monitor conservation management and restoration on private lands in California.

The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory works with private landowners in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Chihuahua, Mexico, to provide technical and financial assistance to enhance and create bird habitat while maintaining economically viable agricultural operations. RMBO promotes a collaborative approach with landowners and partnerships with federal and state agencies, as well as joint ventures and private foundations, to make these efforts possible.

The Conservation Fund has protected more than 7 million acres of land and water across America, including the forests, grasslands, waterways, and other natural areas birds need to thrive. The Conservation Fund works with public and private partners to advance conservation by providing financing, planning, and strategies necessary to protect special places swiftly and sustainably.

The Wildlife Habitat Council is a nonprofit group that works with corporations and other landowners to create tailored voluntary wildlife habitat enhancement and conservation education programs on corporate facilities and in the communities
where they operate.

The National Wildlife Federation provides resources to help landowners create
and certify habitat for wildlife in residential and commercial areas through its Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program.

Forest Certification Programs

Sustainable forest certification programs require forest managers to include biological diversity conservation in their silvicultural practices.

• The Sustainable Forestry Initiative is an independent, nonprofit organization responsible for maintaining, overseeing, and improving a sustainable forestry certification program based on principles and measures that promote sustainable
forest management and consider all forest values.

• The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent, nonprofit organization with membership in three chambers (environmental, economic, and social) that sets certification standards to ensure forests are being managed to the highest environmental and social standards.

• The American Tree Farm System offers affordable forest certification for family forest landowners. The certification program works to sustain forests, watersheds,
and healthy wildlife habitats through the power of private stewardship by giving forest owners the tools they need to keep forests healthy and productive.

Land Trusts

The Land Trust Alliance is a network of more than 1,700 national, regional, and local land trusts that work in local communities to foster land conservation. Land trusts plan, coordinate, and execute conservation easements with private landowners and acquisitions from willing sellers to protect private lands from development. The alliance can connect landowners with a land trust in their community.

Cooperative Extension System

The Cooperative Extension System is a nationwide educational network offered by land-grant universities in most states. A partnership between federal, state, and county governments, Cooperative Extension services are delivered through Extension specialists at land-grant universities and Extension educators at local or regional offices. Extension offices often work closely with private landowners
in their community on improved agricultural practices that utilize the latest, research-based information, such as forestry advice on thinning to spur timber growth and consulting on no-till farming to reduce soil erosion. Because Extension practices can be friendlier for the environment (such as non-chemical integrated pest management for apple orchards), they can benefit bird habitat. Many Extension offices consult on planting to provide cover and food resources for birds.

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation protects and restores fish and wildlife species and their habitats by working with public and private partners. NFWF programs include grants to provide staff and technical assistance to private landowners in regions where crucial conservation issues can be addressed through Farm Bill programs.

Federal Government Programs

Many different entities within the federal government work with landowners to restore, protect, and conserve wildlife habitat on private lands.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture implements the Farm Bill, one of the largest sources of federal conservation funding. Several Farm Bill voluntary conservation programs are delivered through state and local offices of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency.

• The Conservation Reserve Program offers landowners the opportunity to receive financial and technical assistance for placing highly erodible and other environmentally sensitive cropland in conservation covers such as grass, trees, wetlands, and buffers. Participants receive annual payments for the length of their 10- or 15-year contract. National enrollment in CRP is authorized for up to 32 million acres.

• The Wetlands Reserve Program purchases long-term (30-year or perpetual) easements to protect and restore formerly degraded wetlands. The program also provides technical advice and financial assistance for wetland restoration on easement lands.

• The Grassland Reserve Program emphasizes support for working grazing operations, enhancement of biodiversity, and protection of grassland under threat of conversion to other uses. Participants voluntarily enroll their land in 10-, 15-, or 20-year rental contracts or in permanent easements.

• The Healthy Forests Reserve Program provides assistance to landowners, on a voluntary basis, in restoring, enhancing, and protecting forest resources on private lands through easements, 30-year contracts, and 1-year cost-share agreements.

• The Environmental Quality Incentives Program provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural or forest producers to help them plan and implement conservation practices.

• The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program provides technical and financial assistance to conservation-minded landowners who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat on their agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land, or tribal land.

Working Lands for Wildlife is a new partnership between NRCS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that uses technical and financial assistance from NRCS-administered Farm Bill programs to combat the decline of seven wildlife species. Focus species in Working Lands for Wildlife include Greater Sage-Grouse and Golden-winged Warbler.

• The Conservation Stewardship Program offers annual payments for installing new conservation activities and maintaining existing practices. Additionally, a supplemental payment is available to participants who adopt a resource-conserving crop rotation.

U.S. Forest Service

In addition to managing our nation’s federal forests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service works with private landowners to promote healthy forests and communities through its state and private forestry programs.

• The Forest Legacy Program partners with state programs to protect working forests from development, primarily through conservation easements.

• The Forest Stewardship Program provides technical assistance, through state forestry agency partners, to nonindustrial private forest owners to encourage and enable active, long-term forest management.

• The Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program provides financial assistance grants to local governments, tribes, and nonprofit organizations working to establish community forests.

• The Urban and Community Forestry Program provides technical, financial, educational, and research services to communities so they can maximize social, economic, and environmental benefits from community trees and forests.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service works directly with private landowners to partner on projects that expand habitat conservation beyond public lands.

• More than 20 Migratory Bird Joint Ventures have been organized to implement national or international bird conservation plans for a specific species or within a specific geographic area. Though they receive funding through the USFWS, joint ventures are self-directed partnerships of agencies, organizations, corporations, tribes, and individuals. Examples include the Intermountain West Joint Venture and the Black Duck Joint Venture.

• The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners who are willing to partner on habitat improvement projects for migratory birds, as well as other wildlife such as threatened and endangered species. Field biologists work one-on-one with private landowners on conservation projects on their land.

• The State & Tribal Wildlife Grants Program provides federal dollars to every state and territory to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered and to keep common species common. The funds are used to implement each state’s Wildlife
Action Plan. A non-federal match requirement assures local ownership, and leverages state and private funds to support conservation.

• The North American Wetlands Conservation Act provides matching grants to organizations and individuals who carry out wetlands conservation projects to benefit migratory birds associated with wetlands.

• Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as Federal Duck Stamps, serve as federal hunting licenses produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Federal Duck Stamps are vital tools for wetland conservation, with 98 cents of every dollar generated by sales going directly to purchase or lease wetland habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

• The National Coastal Wetlands Grant Program provides matching grants to states for acquisition (including conservation easements), restoration, management, and enhancement of coastal wetlands.

• The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act is a matching grants program to fund projects (including conservation easements) that promote the conservation of Neotropical migratory birds.


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