Optimizing Retention and Placement of Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands in the Northern Great Plains for Grassland Birds

Optimizing Retention and Placement of Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands in the Northern Great Plains for Grassland Birds

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has provided important nesting habitat in the Northern Great Plains for grassland birds, one of the fastest declining groups of birds in North America. However, the amount of land enrolled in the CRP has been declining due to retired contracts coupled with lower nation-wide enrollment caps. To maximize the benefits of CRP for grassland birds, the PPJV and HAPET office developed decision-support tools to guide retention and enrollment. They used stop-level data from The North American Breeding Bird Survey with environmental data to create density and distribution models for eight species of grassland birds across the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture and Northern Great Plains Joint Venture administrative areas. Species were selected based on joint venture priorities and included Baird’s Sparrow, Bobolink, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow, Lark Bunting, Ring-necked Pheasant, and Sprague’s Pipit. Targeting areas for CRP enrollment based on density models, and encouraging CRP management through grazing or haying would be most beneficial for grassland birds in this region.

Partners: Prairie Pothole Joint Venture, Northern Great Plains Joint Venture, USDA Farm Service Agency, HAPET office