Prairie Partners: Conserving Great Plains Birds and Their Habitats
Prairie Partners is a program designed by the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory to conserve prairie birds and the habitat they depend upon. Over 70% of the Great Plains is privately owned. Therefore, private landowners are the key to prairie bird conservation. Our goal is to build a coalition of landowners and land managers who are actively involved in the conservation of lands important to prairie birds. We do this by monitoring prairie birds and their habitats, conducting outreach to increase awareness and understanding of prairie birds and their habitat requirements, providing technical assistance to landowners and land managers on how to incorporate birds into their management, and working with interested landowners and other Federal, State, and private partners to design projects to enhance bird habitat on private lands. Prairie Partners works within the western Great Plains from Montana to Texas, and in northern Mexico. The following is a brief summary of how Prairie Partners is accomplishing its goals.
Monitoring is a necessary and valuable part of prairie conservation. Monitoring of prairie birds helps Prairie Partners determine trends in population and distribution, and determine local densities of birds which will ultimately help us identify priority areas for conservation, and provide data that tells us how management can be used or changed to positively influence habitat. Currently, Prairie Partners Monitoring includes four major project focus areas.
- All-bird surveys in eastern Colorado, western Nebraska, western Kansas, and western Oklahoma
- Monitoring of five U.S. Forest Service National Grasslands
- Ranch inventories in five Great Plains states
- Great Plains Ferruginous Hawk status assessment
The goal of the outreach element of Prairie Partners is to increase awareness of birds with landowners and managers, thank good land stewards for their ongoing efforts, create an understanding of how to incorporate birds into private and public land management, and increase private landowners' involvement in habitat enhancement projects on private lands.
Prairie Partners outreach efforts are accomplished by working closely with partners, such as Texas Prairie Rivers Region, Inc., The Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Cattlemen's Association, Colorado Soil Conservation Districts, Natural Resources Conservation Service Districts, and other local and regional landowner groups. Presentations and informational booths are given at local grazing association meetings, county fairs, Resource Conservation and Development meetings, local Audubon Chapter meetings, and various other group gatherings and seminars. We also conduct workshops to increase landowners' awareness of the birds their lands support, and to provide information to them on the variety of technical and financial services available for habitat enhancement and land management. In addition to the above, we are working on the following special outreach projects:
- Landowner Workshops: Integrating Wildlife, Ranching, and Economics
- USDA Sustainable Agriculture, Research and Education - Integrating Bird Conservation into Range Management
- Mountain Plover Study
- Ranch Inventory
- Birding Trails
Since our ultimate goal is to build a coalition of landowners who are actively involved in the conservation of lands important to prairie birds, it is essential that we provide the means by which interested landowners can become more involved. Prairie Partners works with landowners and partners, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state wildlife agencies, and private groups to design and implement habitat enhancement projects that provide benefit to prairie birds and that are integrated with the landowner's range management goals. There are two habitat projects underway.
Contact Tammy VerCauteren
Contact Tammy VerCauteren