Linking the Americas Through Migratory Bird Conservation
by Craig Watson, Atlantic Coast Joint Venture
and Jack Capp, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service
The Office of International Programs (OIP), a division of the U.S. Department
of Agriculture's Forest Service, is helping to conserve migratory birds
throughout the Americas. The program is growing, new partnerships are
forming, and dollars are being spent to conserve migratory birds from
the Western Boreal Forests of Canada and Alaska to the Pantanal of Brazil,
the world's largest wetland.
The OIP has three major programs: Policy, Disaster Assistance, and Technical
Cooperation, all of which are helping to conserve birds migrating from
North America to the Caribbean and Latin America. Birds are important
to Americans - millions of us hunt, feed, and/or watch birds. Substantial
amounts of money have been and continue to be spent in the United States
on bird and habitat conservation, but what is happening where these birds
spend the rest of the year?
Approximately 300 species found in the United States winter in the Caribbean
and Latin America; others nest in Canada and then come to the United States.
Many of these species, from all bird groups, are threatened or endangered
or have declined over the past 25 years. It is clear that migratory bird
habitat conservation outside the United States is critically needed. This
is where OIP plays an important role.
Technical Cooperation Program
This program provides training and assistance in a number of areas: management
of protected areas, inventory and monitoring of migratory birds, low-impact
logging, fire ecology and management, reforestation, watershed restoration,
invasive species prevention, and landscape-level planning. It also encourages
the planting of shade-grown coffee and cacao. Under this program, the OIP
and Ducks Unlimited are conducting studies in the Pantanal and Western Boreal
Forest - both threatened habitats - as well as helping Trinidad and Tobago
restore their wetlands.
Disaster Assistance Program
The Disaster Assistance Program provides funding, technical guidance, and
training to respond to natural disasters and civil unrest. It supports emergency
watershed protection and rehabilitation, fire suppression, and community
assistance in support of bird conservation. For example, this program helped
with watershed stabilization and wetland restoration following Hurricane
Mitch in Hondurus.
This program helps to integrate bird conservation needs into the international
treaties, policies, and agreements that the United States enters. Examples
are the inclusion of the forestry component in the Kyoto Protocol and the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Many birds found in North American Waterfowl Management Plan joint ventures
winter in Latin America. The endangered Kirtland's warbler (Upper Mississippi
River & Great Lakes Region Joint Venture) and Bicknell's thrush (Atlantic
Coast Joint Venture) winter in the Bahamas and Hispaniola, respectively.
The swallow-tailed kite (Atlantic Coast, Gulf Coast, and Lower Mississippi
Valley Joint Ventures) winters just outside the Pantanal. Approximately
40 percent of waterfowl inventoried in North America's traditionally surveyed
areas use the Western Boreal Forest. Yet, little is known about the Patanal
or Western Boreal Forest. The OIP is working with partners, such as Ducks
Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy, to help sustain these critical habitats.
For more information contact, Jack Capp, U.S.Department of Agriculture,
Forest Service, Office of International Programs, 1099 14th Street, NW,
Suite 5500W, Washington, D.C. 20090, (202) 273-4725, email@example.com,
or Craig Watson, Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, 176 Croghan Spur Road, Suite 200, Charleston, South Carolina
29407, (843) 727-4707, extension 16, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kankakee Project Partner Receives Award
by Jeff Kiefer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Annually, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recognizes outstanding
wetland conservation efforts by nongovernmental partners through its National
Wetland Conservation Award to the Private Sector. Recognized for his dedicated
leadership in the conservation of wetlands and waterfowl, Dick Blythe
of Merrillville, Indiana, is the year 2000 co-winner in the individual
category. Having served as chair of the Indiana Grand Kankakee Marsh Restoration
Project (Kankakee Project) since its inception in 1994, Dick has presided
over one of the largest wetland restoration efforts in Indiana's history.
The North American Waterfowl Management Plan Upper Mississippi River
& Great Lakes Region Joint Venture project, now in its third phase, has
resulted in the acquisition of more than 4,500 acres of wetlands, drained
wetlands, and wetland-associated uplands; the restoration of more than
3,000 acres; and the enhancement of nearly 3,000 acres. Partnership contributions
through phase three have totaled more than $9 million, with North American
Wetland Conservation Act grant awards totaling $3.5 million.
At the awards ceremony on June 30, 2000, at the National Postal Museum
in Washington, D.C., Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark noted the
importance of private sector partners such as Dick to the wetland conservation
effort. "These folks have made remarkable efforts - often using their
own time and money - to help wetlands."
However, Dick gave credit to the Kankakee Project partnership. "There
are 27 partners who sit on this committee and do most of the work," he
said at the ceremony. "I just try to provide some support and motivation."
Making Connections in Ontario's Lake St. Clair
by Melodie Richard, Ducks Unlimited Canada
Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and Ontario Power Generation (formerly Ontario
Hydro) have connected in a conservation effort to restore some of the
most important and threatened wetland habitat in North America. Ontario
Power Generation recently donated $100,000 - one of the largest corporate
sponsorships in the history of DUC in Ontario - to help enhance and restore
Pigeon Marsh in eastern Lake St. Clair.
Pigeon Marsh is an area of continental and global significance. It is
adjacent to a DUC project in the St. Clair National Wildlife Area, a designated
Ramsar site. The marsh supports 700 different plants, 220 species of birds,
and a variety of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. More than 80 of these
species are threatened or endangered.
Unfortunately, human impact on the Lake St. Clair region ranks among
the continent's highest. Agricultural and shoreline development continue
to pose the greatest threats. Particular culprits are agricultural dikes
along the shoreline that create a physical barrier to inland migration
of wetland plants during high water levels. This results in a severe reduction
of wetland diversity.
Wildlife populations have also been severely affected by area development.
Peak waterfowl concentrations once added up to 750,000 birds but now total
360,000 in spring and 150,000 in fall. The area is most critical for migratory
waterfowl, particularly canvasbacks, swans, and geese.
In 1998, the 159-acre Pigeon Marsh site was purchased with generous financial
support from the provincial government and the Canadian Wildlife Service.
This purchase was key to preserving other land in the area for permanent
wetland restoration. Ontario Power's sponsorship, its third with DUC,
will be used to construct dikes and a pumping station.
"We're pleased Ontario Power is on board with us," says Tod Wright, president
of DUC. "It's a tremendous opportunity to make a real impact on the landscape."
In Ontario Power, DUC has found a like-minded partner. It is one of
the first electric companies in North America to develop and implement
a biodiversity conservation policy. Broad-scale management plans at each
of the award-winning company's major sites include habitat management,
educational programs, and volunteer activities.
"Ontario Power has a strong commitment to the environment," says the
company's President and Chief Executive Officer Ron Osborne. "As our Lambton
plant is situated in the Lake St. Clair watershed, working with DUC to
protect this significant ecosystem was a beneficial, natural partnership."
The contribution was based on the merit of the proposal and DUC's strength
at delivering project goals, according to Ontario Power's Director of
Corporate Environment Helen Howes. "We are pleased to partner and sponsor
groups such as DUC who share similar values and aspirations," she said.
Lisa Verhagen, regional development manager for DUC, said plans are underway
to include Ontario Power staff in ongoing activities at Pigeon Marsh,
beginning with an Employee Day once restoration work is completed. In
working with DUC, Ontario Power is helping to set an example for electric
companies to follow.
For more information, contact Heather Jackson, Ducks Unlimited Canada,,