Sean Fields

Coordinator’s Corner: Keeping the Table Set

We find ourselves in a constant state of change within the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture, not only for priority species and the ongoing challenges of habitat conservation, but also in the partnership structure and opportunities. With recent turnover in PPJV Management Board co-chairs and partner representatives, and the impending transition to a new coordinator, it is timely to reflect on our origins to reaffirm our cooperative direction and goals. We are on the cusp of the fifth iteration of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) and as one of the flagship Joint Ventures established in the original plan, our strength remains in breeding waterfowl conservation while recognizing the importance of the prairies to a multitude of other species and rural communities. Indeed, we thrive on leveraging the resources available for waterfowl conservation to benefit many other wetland and grassland dependent species. Today we often hear this described as Integrated Bird Conservation.

I recall the original context of Integrated Bird Conservation as it was defined to me when I started my career in the northern prairies nearly two decades ago. The term was coined after the original NAWMP was signed, and before the subsequent conservation plans for shorebirds, landbirds, and waterbirds were written. The nascent Joint Venture partnership was still trying to grasp the varied aspects of regional waterfowl conservation and we quickly understood that integrating our efforts would accomplish more conservation compared to going it alone. Integrated Bird Conservation was each partner bringing their own perspectives and tools to the table and focusing collaborative efforts on where those perspectives overlapped with shared priorities.

We have always agreed as a partnership that protecting the remaining wetlands and grasslands and restoring lost and degraded habitats will allow the dynamic nature of the Prairie Pothole Region to persist and our priority species to thrive, including the people that live and work here. Keeping the Table Set was the adage that originally captured this paradigm; I would argue that similar to Integrated Bird Conservation, there is an alternative meaning to this phrase. We must keep our partnership table set for new ideas and perspectives. The PPJV only recently added private landowners to the Management Board to provide us with a much needed conservation view. As we collectively work to accomplish our mission and the objectives outlined in the 2017 PPJV Implementation Plan, we must continue to seek alternative perspectives to bolster our strong foundation in wetland and grassland dependent bird conservation so we can remain resilient in this era of change.

In this edition of the Pulse of the Prairies, you will read how our partners are continuing to work together to conserve habitats through the perpetual protection, restoration and enhancement of grasslands and prairie potholes to benefit waterfowl and other native wildlife.

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