State of Birds 2013 Report Highlights Successes of Protecting Bird Habitat on Private Lands

Thursday, July 25 2013


MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho Gap Analysis Program – or UI-GAP – is going to the birds with a new report that shows the significant contribution that private landowners make to birds and habitat conservation.

UI-GAP joined federal and state wildlife agencies, along with scientific and conservation organizations, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and The Nature Conservancy, to study the conservation value of private lands to birds in The State of the Birds 2013 Report on Private Lands (www.stateofthebirds.org).

“This report quantifies the critical conservation value of private lands in the U.S and that their value can be measured not only in bushels, but also in bluebirds,” said Jocelyn Aycrigg, conservation biologist at the UI-GAP.

The report, released in early July by Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Department of Interior, and Tom Vilsack, Agricultural Secretary, highlights the individuals, families, organizations and corporations, including two million ranchers and farmers, and 10 million woodland owners who own and manage 1.43 billion acres, roughly 60 percent of the land area of the United States. Private lands are used by virtually all of the terrestrial and coastal birds of the US and more than 100 bird species have more than 50 percent of their distribution on private lands.

The report shows that important breeding, migratory and wintering bird habitat is located on private working lands that produce food, fiber and energy for the U.S. The result of the report emphasizes the high dependence on private lands among grassland, wetland and eastern forest birds, with important conservation opportunities existing in all habitats.

“The state of the birds in the U.S. is an indicator of our effectiveness as stewards of our natural resources, such as habitats for birds, as well as clean air and water. For example the report includes new models of win-win conservation on working lands, such as the Sage Grouse Initiative, where more than 700 land owners have joined an effort to manage ranchlands across 2 million acres to conserve sagebrush habitat and create more nutritious forage for livestock,“ said Aycrigg.

To assess bird populations and conservation opportunities on private lands, the Science Team for this report, of which Aycrigg was a member, combined the latest eBird distribution data with land ownership data from the Protected Areas Database of the U.S. (PAD-US). UI-GAP provided the expertise and analyzed PAD-US by ownership and bird habitat types and produced maps of PAD-US for the report. Aycrigg was an author of the report in which she coordinated the writing for the ‘Our Approach’ chapter. Furthermore, UI-GAP provided the data summary for Alaska bird species for the report.

“UI-GAP works to develop, maintain and apply spatial databases to conservation issues. The State of the Birds report is a great example of how these data can help inform national conservation issues,” said Aycrigg.

UI-GAP has been involved with the State of the Birds Report in 2011 and 2013.
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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho inspires students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Big Sky Conference. Through the university’s $225 million Inspiring Futures capital campaign, private giving will enhance student learning, faculty research and innovation, and a spirit of enterprise. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.



About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.