Nominations for the 2015 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award
The Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award annually recognizes a single project or action conducted by or in partnership with a Federal agency that meets the intent and spirit of Executive Order 13186 by focusing on migratory bird conservation.
Actions may involve reducing existing or potential adverse impacts to migratory birds and their habitats, restoring or enhancing migratory bird habitat, and incorporating conservation of migratory birds and their habitat into agency plans, guidance, or other activities. The action should demonstrate leadership in inspiring others to further migratory bird conservation. This could include developing and implementing best-management practices, a policy action, or research.
Raptor Nest Inventory Survey (RINS) - Bureau of Land Management
Managing Grasslands and Early Succession Habitat for Migratory Birds on the Oak Ridge Reservation – Department of Energy
Restrictions and Cancellations of Rodenticide Products - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Pesticide Programs
Preventing Migratory Seabird Mortality in U.S. West Coast Groundfish Longline Fisheries – NMFS-NOAA
Denali National Park and Preserve Golden Eagle Program - National Park Service
Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative – USDA-NRCS
Wellfleet Bay Virus Investigation - USDA-APHIS
Achieving Energy Independence While Protecting America's Wildlife – US Fish & Wildlife Service
Raptor Nest Inventory Survey (RINS) -
Bureau of Land Management
The Raptor Inventory Nest Survey (RINS) is an all-volunteer organization concerned with birds of prey that nest throughout Utah. RINS focuses on habitat protection with particular emphasis on raptor species listed as sensitive, threatened or endangered. Volunteers are asked to locate all of the raptor nests within their assigned territories throughout the State of Utah including the counties of Box Elder, Tooele, Juab, Millard, Rich, Daggett, Uintah, Duchesne, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Weber, Morgan, Summit, Wasatch, Salt Lake, and Utah counties in Utah. They regularly check the nests’ condition to see whether a raptor is using the nest, and to determine yearly productivity (how many young fledged from the nest). Observing and recording what types of human disturbance, vegetation, prey, and prey remains present at or near the nest site is also recommended. All raptor nests are protected under federal law, so the data collected by RINS volunteers provides current information regarding birds of prey and their nests. This aids in management decisions and protection, which ensures the nest sites and young are protected. RINS volunteers have discovered and documented over three hundred-ninety-three new nests. Many of these are active nests since the majority of raptors are nomadic following prey availability and structures to build nests on. RINS volunteers made 1,205 visits to various nest sites and documented 492 nests as active; 138 occupied; 10 as active, failed; 805 inactive; 394 historic nests gone; and 38 not located. RINS provides this important information to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM then uses the information to determine the potential impacts of actions it is considering and any appropriate mitigation. RINS volunteers have also assisted the BLM by monitoring project sites before and during construction when asked by the BLM. This insures that the species are protected adequately. RINS data also help BLM better fulfill its regulatory requirements mandated by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Endangered Species Act and the BLM 6840 (Sensitive Species) and helps the BLM fulfill its mission of multiple use and sustained yield. RINS data assist the BLM in managing raptor species as well as all of the other resources. With programs like RINS, the BLM is achieving its goal to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
Managing Grasslands and Early Succession Habitat for Migratory Birds on the Oak Ridge Reservation – Department of Energy.
The Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) is a 33,481 acre U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) property located in the Ridge and Valley Province of East Tennessee. Since 2002, DOE, in collaboration with others, has actively managed this property for early succession habitat to benefit birds and wildlife. Actions taken include planting native warm season grasses, conducting prescribed burns, thinning loblolly pine stands and right-of-way corridors, applying herbicides to invasive plants, and installing/maintaining nest boxes. Migratory bird protection is also enhanced by landscape committees which ensure use of native plants, support of ORR bird research and publications, and recently inventorying gates, posts, and bollards for potential entrapment of cavity-nesting birds.
Before 1942, when the government acquired the land now known as the ORR, the property was largely made up of individual farmsteads consisting of grazed woodlots, fescue fields, forests, and cropland. Since the early 2000s, considerable effort has been dedicated to eliminating remnant fescue (e.g., tall fescue, Lolium arundinaceum) because of its endophyte toxicity (mainly to insects) and its well-known tendency to diminish overall biological diversity (particularly problematic for ground-nesting birds). Fescue elimination is followed up with drilling or broadcasting of native warm season grasses or recolonization by native plants from within the existing seed bank.
Approximately 70% of the ORR is forested, with several hundred acres in dense stands of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). At the stem exclusion stage, these stands exhibit closed canopies, minimal growth of herbaceous understory, and extremely low wildlife value. Measurements (fixed radius plots) taken in these stands indicate a basal area of ~125 ft2/acre with an overall plant community consisting of ~47 species (~43% herbaceous plants and grasses). By comparison, a recently thinned stand exhibits a basal area of ~75 ft2/acre (additional thinning is planned) with an overall plant community consisting of ~81 species (~63% herbaceous plants and grasses) at the end of one growing season.
The establishment of diverse native understory plant communities improves food, cover, and vertical structure in these pine stands, and such plant communities are a good predictor of future avian richness comprised of early succession/grassland obligates. The paucity of savannah-type plant communities in the Ridge and Valley may also be limiting movement of short-distance migrants such as loggerhead shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus), grasshopper sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum), and Henslow’s sparrows (Ammodramus henslowii). The red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), a species believed to have been absent from the ORR from the early 1970s to the late 1990s, also benefits from these thinning operations.
DOE and partner applicants have taken a multifaceted approach to managing for early succession communities that also includes appropriate use of targeted herbicide applications and prescribed fire. Equally important is DOE’s recognition of the need for public outreach in order to maintain a sustainable program. This need has been addressed through establishment of public greenways and conservation easements, and through support for public bird walks, Earth Day activities, collaborative research, and Boy Scout/Girl Scout activities on the ORR.
Restrictions and Cancellations of Rodenticide Products - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Pesticide Programs.
EPA reached agreement with Reckitt Benckiser, the manufacturer, to cancel 12 d-CON rat and mouse poison products. Eight of these products contain second generation anticoagulants (brodifacoum, difethialone, bromadiolone, or difenacoum); pesticides that pose unacceptable risks to non-target wildlife. As a result of this action, as of January 1, 2015, all registered consumer use rat and mouse poison products meet current EPA safety standards. This action will prevent risks to migratory birds and other non-target wildlife.
EPA anticipates that this action will reduce exposure of predatory birds to second-generation rodenticides. Many migratory species will benefit including: Red-tailed Hawks, Peregrine Falcons, Bald Eagles, Cooper’s Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, American Kestrels, Red-shouldered Hawks, Barred Owls. Many of these species live and reproduce in urban settings where residential uses of the second-generation rodenticides have now been curbed. Because this action affects the sale and distribution of second-generation rodenticide products nationwide, EPA believes raptors, scavengers, and carnivorous migratory birds all over the U.S. will benefit from this action.
EPA made a determination that 12 products produced by the manufacturer did not comply with current safety standards and issued a Notice of Intent to Cancel these products in February 2013. The manufacturer exercised their right to contest the cancellation through an administrative hearing process. During this process, the manufacturers decided to voluntarily cancel the 12 d-CON products and no longer pursue registration of two other d-CON products. In choosing to issue a Notice of Intent to Cancel these products, EPA chose to use its strongest powers under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to protect birds and wildlife.
This action promotes migratory bird conservation by reducing non-target exposures of migratory birds to rodenticides, in particular raptors, to second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides nationwide. This action strengthens restrictions on how rodenticide products can be packaged, eliminates products that can be spread outdoors loosely by requiring bait stations for all outdoor, above-ground placements, and limits the use of second-generation rodenticides to trained professionals, only. In moving to cancel products that did not comply with EPA’s current standards of protection, EPA rid the market of 12 rodenticide products, eight of which contained second-generation rodenticides. Removing the use of second-generation rodenticide products from consumers also reduces the overall amount of second-generation anticoagulants used; thus, reducing the overall risk to non-target animals, including migratory birds.
Preventing Migratory Seabird Mortality in U.S. West Coast Groundfish Longline Fisheries – NMFS-NOAA.
Seabirds are an integral part of the marine environment, which is studied and managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA Fisheries (National Marine Fisheries Service), in particular, is responsible through various statutory authorities and agency actions to monitor, understand, and mitigate the effects of seabird incidental catch in fisheries, as well as to manage the coastal and marine habitats that seabirds depend on. Recent efforts off of the U.S. West Coast are benefiting seabirds, especially three North Pacific albatross species – the Laysan, Black-footed, and Short-tailed Albatross. Albatrosses, which face a variety of threats across their wide ranges, are among the most threatened bird species.
NOAA Fisheries, in collaboration with many partners, is succeeding in keeping seabirds off the hooks of vessels using bottom longline gear in fisheries off of the U.S. West Coast (i.e. Washington, Oregon, California). Nearly 300 vessels operate within this fishery, targeting species such as sablefish and halibut. The stage for the action was set by the successful seabird conservation efforts in the Alaska fisheries that began in the 1990s and effectively used streamer lines during gear setting to deter seabirds from accessing baited hooks. Spurred in part by efforts by Washington Sea Grant on the issue of seabird interactions in longline gear, NOAA Fisheries undertook outreach to develop partnerships and collaborate with the fishing industry and other entities. The collaboration made possible synergies among applied research, science-based assessments, and policy development for preventing seabird mortality in West Coast groundfish fisheries. Subsequently, the fishing industry voluntarily implemented measures to reduce seabird interactions, while NOAA Fisheries refined regulations and policies based on data and science. The resulting partnerships (e.g. state and federal agencies, fishermen associations, Native tribes, fishing gear suppliers, fishery management council) brought about institutional changes to protect seabirds from fishery impacts and make the topic of seabird conservation a fixture in the fishery management process along the U.S. West Coast. As a result, fewer seabirds are dying and that number is expected to continue to decline as the efforts of the partnerships continue to bear fruit.
Denali National Park and Preserve Golden Eagle Program - National Park Service.
At least 75% of the bird species nesting on lands administered by the National Park Service (NPS) in Alaska are migratory and spend much of their lives outside the boundaries of these protected areas, often crossing multiple international and even continental boundaries during the year. Alaska’s National Parklands provide nesting habitat for a greater abundance and diversity of long-distance migratory birds than nearly all the other NPS areas in the United States. Conserving these highly mobile species requires fundamental information about their ecology, year round movements, and threats. For nearly three decades the NPS Denali National Park and Preserve (Denali) Golden Eagle Program has collaborated with federal, state and non-governmental agencies to study the ecology of Golden Eagles that nest in Denali. Denali contains one of North America’s largest nesting populations of migratory Golden Eagles and in cooperation with the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program, supports one of the longest ecological studies of this species in the world. In combination with monitoring activities, a series of collaborative research studies with US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Oregon State University, and West Virginia University have provided, and continue to provide essential information on how migratory Golden Eagles respond to environmental change, including increasing anthropogenic activities. Results of these collaborative studies, published in over a dozen scientific journals and book chapters, have led to science-based management of Golden Eagles in Denali, promoted public understanding of critical park resources, and identified threats to migratory populations of this species. Both the long-term monitoring activities and ongoing collaborative studies of the Denali Golden Eagle Program are essential for developing cross-boundary conservation strategies for this species, particularly given the increased concern over this species’ conservation status as threats are becoming better understood.
Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative – USDA-NRCS.
As oil spewed from the damaged Deepwater Horizon well in June 2010, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service launched an unprecedented proactive effort to benefit migratory birds headed toward Gulf Coastal wetland habitats. Called the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI), the effort literally mobilized thousands of private landowners to help create and enhance habitats for numerous species of waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds. Although the spill was the impetus for the MBHI, for years resources managers had envisioned similar activities could be used to address the numerous threats to wintering habitats. Eight states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas) enrolled over 471,000 acres by August 1, 2010. Louisiana enrolled 193,000 acres most of which was multi-year agreements on working rice and crawfish farms in the southwestern part of the State. Immediately after shallow water and early successional habitat practices were implemented, anecdotal evidence seemed to indicate high bird use by a variety of species. In order to accurately assess the Initiative’s impact, partnership formed between NRCS, Ducks Unlimited, Inc. USGS-NWRC, and Mississippi State University. Based on the results of this assessment, MBHI was very successful in providing wintering habitat benefits to a variety of migratory waterbirds. The Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative is a present day wildlife management success efficiently tapping into the infra-structure of working agricultural lands to provide landscape scale wintering habitat needs for migratory birds.
Wellfleet Bay Virus Investigation - USDA-APHIS.
In support of the One Health concept, and in accordance with Homeland Security Presidential Directives 8 and 9, USDA-APHIS (Wildlife Services) created the National Wildlife Disease Program (NWDP). The NWDP, administered through the National Wildlife Research Center, is the only comprehensive, nationally coordinated system in the United States capable of conducting disease surveillance and emergency response for diseases of concern in wildlife. Over the last 12 years, the NWDP has conducted surveillance for more than 100 pathogens, toxins, and syndromes across the country and the world. Given the unique capabilities of the NWDP, the expertise of its staff, and the extensive collaborations established with the USFWS and other State and Federal Agencies, the Homeland Security Council directed USDA-APHIS to work with the DOI to develop an interagency early detection system for HPAI in wild birds. This system was incorporated into the U.S. National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. In 2006, USDA-APHIS, DOI, and State wildlife agencies implemented a nationwide surveillance system for HPAI in wild birds, and by 2011, more than 500,000 samples from approximately 260 species were collected and tested. This effort was coordinated with Canada and Mexico through a trilateral working group. Collectively, the North American HPAI surveillance effort represents the largest coordinated wildlife disease surveillance program ever implemented. As a direct result of the collaborations established by the HPAI early detection system, USFWS and APHIS worked together to investigate a seasonally recurring die-off of common eider sea ducks (Somateria mollissima) on Cape Cod, MA beginning in 2008. Occurring in close proximity to a major sea duck over-wintering and migratory staging area in Nantucket Sound, the die-off caused concern about population-level impacts to migratory waterfowl. Additionally, there was concern whether this newly discovered virus could become a threat to poultry and the nation’s food supply. Information gained from the many facets of this multi-agency disease investigation contributes to overall management discussions for this crucial species. Information learned from this project may lead to a greater understanding of the disease and development of management methods concerning the transmission of this disease. In addition, information gained from this investigation can be applied to other potential diseases that may appear to be isolated in particular migratory bird or other wildlife species. This investigation provided, and will continue to provide, USDA-APHIS and USFWS with new insights to better protect staging and over-wintering areas for migratory birds.
Achieving Energy Independence While Protecting America’s Wildlife – US Fish & Wildlife Service.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act has traditionally protected birds from direct “take.” Executive Order (E.O.) 13186 and the associated Memoranda of Understanding between federal agencies and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), created the potential to mitigate for loss of migratory bird habitat where a federal nexus is involved. USFWS Region 3 Ecological Services has taken this farther by achieving mitigation for unavoidable loss of migratory bird habitat for projects without a federal nexus. Working with linear energy projects, the primary objective is “No net loss of remaining habitat.” The first five linear projects using Region 3’s ‘blueprint for mitigation’ have resulted in more than $34 million for restoration of migratory bird and listed species habitat.
Region 3 has promoted the blueprint for mitigation by providing examples, templates and webinars for other Service Regions and field offices. USFWS Regions 4, 5, and 6 currently have linear projects that will apply this strategy.
The Region 3 blueprint begins by informing the developer during initial contacts that USFWS will seek compensatory mitigation for loss of migratory bird habitat (under E.O. 13186) or for listed species habitat under the Endangered Species Act. Habitat requirements and land values are calculated, and the developer is informed how they can reduce costs by avoiding high ratio habitat and by co-locating with existing rights-of-way. Working with their Field Offices, Region 3 identifies areas likely to contain Birds of Conservation Concern or listed species that will need special consideration and protection.
Region 3 has used The Conservation Fund (TCF) as its third party fiduciary. TCF specializes in securing matching funds to expand the benefits of compensatory mitigation from energy developers. Developers of projects that are not federally regulated have been willing to mitigate for threatened and endangered species and migratory birds when we work cooperatively to help them stay on schedule.
Examples of successful projects include the Rockies Express Project (2008), a 638-mile gas pipeline from Missouri to Ohio that resulted in $4.15 million to mitigate for loss of upland forests and forest fragmentation with five projects protecting more than 19,000 acres of migratory bird habitats; the Enbridge Flanagan South Pipeline (2012), a 590-mile oil pipeline through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma that resulted in $22 million for listed species and migratory bird habitat, with four projects protecting 1,131 acres; and the NIPSCO Reynolds Topeka Transmission Line Project (2014), a 100-mile electric transmission line project in Indiana that resulted in $4.3 million for migratory birds in an area recognized by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) as a globally significant conservation area and by the National Audubon Society as a globally significant Important Bird Area.
R3 projects have provided important habitat for Cerulean, Worm-eating, Blue-winged and Kentucky Warblers, Wood Thrush, Black-billed Cuckoo, Whip-poor-will and Red-headed Woodpecker. Future mitigation in North Dakota will protect or restore native prairie habitat for Piping Plover and Sprague’s Pipit. Pipeline mitigation in Wisconsin and Michigan may contribute to restoration of jack pine forests for Kirtland’s Warbler.
The United State Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) Managing Raptor-Human Conflicts to Promote Safety and Migratory Bird Conservation project is 2014 recipient of the Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award.
The Department of Defense 2013 recipient of the Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award Migratory Linkages of Burrowing Owls on Department of Defense Installations and Adjacent Lands project
Burrowing Owl on Kirtland AFB.
Photo by Envirological Services
Bureau of Land Management Receives 2012 Presidential Migratory
Bird Federal Stewardship Award Restore New Mexico
Mike J Johnson presents Presidential Award to Mike Pool (Deputy Director BLM) photo credit Raymond King
2011 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award presented to Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement for their leadership in forming the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative.