Multi-partner Integrated Conservation Planning in Montana

Partners within the PPJV are developing an integrated system to prioritize landscape-scale habitats that have the highest biological value for priority bird species in the Montana portion of the PPJV. This effort is designed to achieve two goals:

  1. Showcase the biological value of the MT-PPJV area to the entire Joint Venture and conservation community.
  2. Strengthen existing conservation efforts in the MT-PPJV by helping to integrate efforts among state and federal agencies and conservation organizations towards a common vision and goals.

Initial conservation planning efforts indicate that partners of the MT-PPJV can conserve a large segment of identified priority species within a smaller, focused portion of the landscape (20 – 27% of the total MT-PPJV). Further, partners can target their protection efforts on only ~11% of the entire MT-PPJV area by focusing on surrogate species and by removing already protected areas from consideration.

Targeted habitat conservation is a fundamental component of Strategic Habitat Conservation (SHC). Our rapid prototype analyses are the first phase of an adaptive process. The next phase includes testing assumptions. To do so, the results of our preliminary modeling efforts are being vetted with local scale biologists who are very familiar with the modeled landscapes. Additionally, the University of Montana will apply new analytical methods to a subset of our priority species.

This project will rigorously test the utility of using surrogate species for landscape level conservation planning and habitat protection, as well as the robustness of landscape level species distribution models. Results we obtain from testing all our assumptions will ultimately form the basis on which we develop a full conservation plan.

Partners in this effort include NGO’s (The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited), universities (University of Montana), state agencies (Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks, Montana Natural Heritage Program, Montana Department of Environmental Quality) and federal agencies (BLM, NRCS,USFWS). For more information contact: Kevin Doherty, PPJV Science Coordinator

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