Integrating Birds in Range Management across the Sagebrush Steppe

Project Overview

EW12-009
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2012: $60,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
Laura Quattrini
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (dba Bird Conservancy of the Rockies)

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: general hay and forage crops

Practices

  • Animal Production: grazing - continuous, grazing management, pasture renovation, range improvement, grazing - rotational, stocking rate
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, agritourism
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, riparian buffers, wetlands, wildlife
  • Production Systems: holistic management

    Abstract:

    Bird Conservancy of the Rockies objectives involve raising awareness for at-risk species bird species and their habitat needs so that conservation efforts are incorporated into land management decisions ultimately stabilizing or increasing the population trends of these species. To do this Bird Conservancy organized and developed a number of outreach events as well as dispersed educational materials to raise awareness. We held four “Sagebrush Dependent Birds and Management Actions” workshops in spring 2014 presenting to nearly 130 resource professionals from Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Forest Service, Conservation Districts, Extension agents, non-profits, state wildlife agencies and a handful of landowners. We held one webinar on sagebrush bird identification and ecology in which 57 resource professionals attended. BCR had 500 “Voices of Sagebrush Birds” CD created and dispersed roughly 350 to date. We continually fulfill requests for the “Pocket Guide to Sagebrush Birds” and have given out approximately 5,700 over the course of the grant cycle. The “Integrating Bird Conservation into Sagebrush Management” manual has Version 1 complete. Due to the linkage of the manual with the creation of our Decision Support Tool being complete we do need to wait for printing the manual so we can incorporate instructions for the DST tool. Bird Conservancy staff have attended national, regional, and local partner meetings so to continue sharing our project results and tools to assist with management planning decisions. We also have Private Lands Biologists who work with other resource professionals and private landowners to raise awareness for bird habitat needs to incorporate those needs into on-the-ground management projects. It is our intention that the information we provide to other resource professionals be used in a similar manner – to implement habitat conservation across the landscape.

    Project objectives:

    This SARE proposal is part of a larger Bird Conservancy sagebrush ecosystem conservation strategy. Bird Conservancy of the Rockies (Bird Conservancy) recognizes that agricultural producers play a critical role in providing habitat for wildlife as well as food and fiber for people. We strive to find win-win solutions for both producer and wildlife. In cooperation with Point Blue, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV), state universities, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), non-profits, and private landowners and others, Bird Conservancy has proposed to incorporate increased awareness and improved management into habitat projects for sage-grouse to better meet the needs of sagebrush bird species while achieving objectives of agricultural producers. Ultimately better informed land management decisions will be made and create seamless conservation across private and public lands.

    Short-term:

    The critical first step toward conservation of sagebrush obligate birds is raising awareness of resource managers and private landowners about the birds and their habitat requirements. In the short-term this will be indicated by the number of resource professionals and landowners we reach, how they evaluate the training sessions, sagebrush manual, and Decision Support Tool (DST). The number of additional pocket guides, CDs, and training manuals we distribute, and the number of ‘hits’ our DST receives online will also be metrics of success. Awareness can also be measured by the number of landowners enrolling in sagebrush habitat enhancement projects – the more landowners enrolling, the more landowners whose awareness is being focused on wildlife on their properties.

     Long-term:

    Integrating birds into range management and monitoring prescriptions will help improve range and sagebrush health and the economic base of private lands. After the trainings, with time and experience, land managers and landowners will become increasingly proficient at identification of bird species and understanding of what their presence means. There will be better appreciation and understanding of the diversity of habitat needs of birds in the sagebrush system. This will lead to a positive shift in land managers’ behavior and the right practices will be put in the right places to benefit agricultural producers and to forward sagebrush conservation and ultimately reverse declining population trends avoiding the need for USFWS regulation. Avian population trends will continually be tracked through time by Bird Conservancy’s avian monitoring team and other partners.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.