One Busy Bird: Prairie Chicken Travels 1,165 Miles
This spring, a female Lesser Prairie Chicken, Bird No. 112, was trapped in western Nebraska, tagged with a GPS tracking collar and released in Iowa near the Missouri border on April 4. By July 29, the bird had traveled 1,165 miles in big circles around northern Missouri and southern Iowa, a journey that surprised biologists.
Biologists are not sure what spurred this grand expedition, and some are worried that this kind of travel won’t lead to any reproduction. However, traveling to breed is also important for creating diversity, and one theory is that she couldn’t find a mate. Bird No. 112 may also have simply been looking for habitat similar where she was trapped in western Nebraska.
Learn more about Bird No. 112
What RFF is Doing to Save Lesser Prairie Chicken Habitat
Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Lesser Prairie Chicken has experienced a 90% population decline and is in danger of being listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The primary cause of the species decline is thought to be habitat loss and fragmentation. Since 95% of Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat is on private land, private landowners are the key to protecting and restoring its habitat and saving the Lesser Prairie Chicken.
We are designing an educational website to provide in-depth, comprehensive information to assist landowners in improving the Lesser Prairie Chicken's habitat. This website will contain educational articles on the Lesser Prairie Chicken, technical information on habitat restoration techniques, localized resources and professionals for implementing those techniques, and a discussion forum for landowners to share their successes and ask questions.
You can help! Donate now and get involved in helping to save this species.
Catching Up with Children in the Wilderness
Photo credit: CITW. Planting trees from Toka Leya; original staff house at Mapoko; proudly planting a nursery
Most of you probably know that our goal at the Private Landowner Network is to help private landowners in the U.S. practice good land stewardship and conservation. What you might not know is that we also support private sectors solutions for conservation internationally. We partner with Children in the Wilderness and the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, the two non-profit arms of Wilderness Safaris.
The goal of Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is to educate rural African children about the importance of conservation in their communities. CITW believes that successful conservation and sustainable community development starts by educating the children who will be custodians of the land in the future.
Recent efforts include; planting over 1,000 indigenous trees near schools, on subsistence farms in reforestation areas; providing Malawi schools with Kindles preloaded with textbooks and teachers guides; providing teacher housing and much more.
See what else CITW has been up to
Is Conservation Banking the Future of Land Conservation?
Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (map does not reflect updates discussed below).
Conservation banks are lands that are permanently protected and contain rare, threatened, or endangered species or habitat. They function as a way to offset development impacts on natural resources. The process begins when a landowner permanently protects their land, generating 'credits' that are then sold to a bank. The bank then sells those credits to developers that detrimentally impact land that contains a protected species or habitat. Generally, developers can only purchase credits as a last resort and are encouraged to perform offsets on the property that is developed or as close to the property as possible.
In the last month, conservation banking in the U.S. has picked up momentum. The country's largest wetland mitigation bank was created in Minnesota
when Ecosystem Investment Partners swapped land with the state, Pennsylvania
got its first commercial bank, and Common Ground Capital partnered with Restoration Systems to preserve wildlife habitat
. However, not everyone is happy with this idea. Some environmental groups claim that offsets could equate to a "license to trash
," and take issue with commoditizing wildlife and other natural resources.
Photo credit: NRCS, Upper-Mississippi Watershed.
Private Landowners' Conservation Successes
Two reports have been released this month that showcase the conservation measures taken by private landowners and how they are conserving our country’s natural resources while also keeping working lands working.
Impacts of the Federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP): An assessment based on interviews with participating landowners
evaluated the effects of FRPP, which is a program that provides funds to purchase conservation easements that keep productive farm and ranchland in agricultural use. It reported that 34% of landowners believe that they would have had to sell their land for development had it not been enrolled in FRPP. An additional 15% said that it would have eventually been converted out of agriculture or sold to non-farmers. Approximately half of the landowners with land in FRPP applied conservation practices to curb soil erosion, protect against pollution of surface or groundwater, and protect or improve wildlife habitat. Over 20% said that they used proceeds from the sale of their easement for starting or expanding conservation practices on their land.
Professional forester working with landowner.
New Jersey Struggles with Forest Management Policy
Forest management in New Jersey has been a contentious issue for several years now, but the end of last month's debate, or what some have described as bickering, rose to a new level after Governor Chris Christie vetoed the Healthy Forests Act.
The bill instructed the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop a forest stewardship plan that included selective thinning of forests and selling the timber to cover the costs of the program and additional habitat restoration. Under the bill, all forestry practices would have to follow the guidelines set by, and under the purview of, the Forest Stewardship Council.
This requirement was the primary reason for Christie's veto, as he explained that under it the DEP would "abdicate its responsibility to serve as the state's environmental steward to a named third party."
Read more on our Keep Working Lands Working Blog
Help Preserve Vital Resources and Rural Communities Today!
Maintain your own PLN Profile
Service providers that are listed on the PLN can now update and maintain their own listings. If you are interested in creating a free listing, updating your current listing, or have questions about this important feature click here!
Congratulations Harden and Bonnie!
In August the Senate confirmed the appointment of Krysta Harden as USDA Deputy Secretary and Robert Bonnie as USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment.
RFF looks forward to working with Harden, who had invited RFF to present at a National NACD conference, and Bonnie who over sees the NRCS and USFS programs that we support on our websites.
Become a member of RFF and its PLN and show your support for farmers, forest owners, and ranchers.
To help private landowners, who are stewards of 71% of our country’s land, and learn about membership benefits click here.
News from Our Maine Conservation Center
We now have a complete list of Maine lodges and sporting camps on the site.
We are also proud to announce that you can find George Smith's Outdoor News blog on our Outdoor Recreation page.
RFF's Conservation Centers Receive Facelift
Check out the new and improved design of our state conservation websites by clicking at the links at the bottom of this column.
Have Your Business's Name and Logo Displayed Here!
Please contact Christine Force if you would like to appear in next month's issue or are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities.
How Much Do You Know About Biofuels?
Take this short quiz from National Geographic to find out.
Turns out we didn't know as much as we thought, averaging an 8/12.
Conservation Tax Center
Cooperative Conservation America
Maine Conservation Center
Houston Conservation Center
California Conservation Center
Mississippi Conservation Center
Arkansas Conservation Center