Recent efforts spotlighting the crisis of grassland loss and grassland bird population declines have energized partnership-based conservation work across the Great Plains. Over the past year, several new international grassland conservation initiatives were launched including the JV8 Central Grasslands Initiative, the Central Grasslands Roadmap, and the Road to Recovery, an initiative to bring back 3 billion birds. Together, these initiatives seek to leverage and strengthen partnerships to bolster resources needed for filling information gaps and increasing on-the-ground grassland conservation to reverse the continuing declines.
In November 2020, Audubon Dakota and partners initiated the North Dakota Conservation Forage Program (CFP) with a $6.9 million grant award from the North Dakota Industrial Commission Outdoor Heritage Fund. This grant is the largest investment in the fund’s history. The CFP will support private landowners in converting up to 25,000 acres of cropland back to native grass, while facilitating the adoption of adaptive land management to improve grassland and soil health through livestock integration.
As an “all bird” Joint Venture, the PPJV is committed to addressing the conservation needs of all avian species that use the region. This is a daunting task given the diversity of bird species, landscapes, and variability in our understanding of limiting factors for many species. However, grassland and wetland habitat loss are generally recognized as the primary causes of declining breeding bird populations in the PPR and serve as common denominators for conservation among the four bird groups: waterfowl, shorebirds, waterbirds, and landbirds.
With 2020 retreating further in the rearview, it becomes easier to look forward with anticipation at the promise and unknown potential of a new year. Here at the PPJV we are ushering in 2021 with a heightened commitment to the integration of communications with our collaborative conservation efforts. As we do so, it’s important to think beyond the communications activities we will be delivering, considering what we hope to accomplish in doing so.