Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
$3.7 Million for Neotropical Migratory Birds and Habitat Conservation

April 11, 2012


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced today more than $3.7 million in Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation grants for 28 collaborative projects that will support bird conservation throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Matched by more than $14 million in contributions from partners, the projects will support habitat restoration, environmental education, population monitoring, and other priority activities within the ranges of neotropical migratory birds in the United States, Canada, Mexico and 23 Latin American and Caribbean countries.

“Migratory birds play so many roles in our lives and on the landscape – ecologically, culturally and economically – and they enhance our connection with our natural world,” said Service Director Dan Ashe.  “The grant funds we provide under the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, matched at least three-to-one by partner dollars, help to bring bird conservation to where it’s most needed, ensuring birds continue to enrich our lives.”

The more than 340 species of neotropical migratory birds -- which breed in Canada and the United States during summer and spend the winter in Mexico, Central America, South America or the Caribbean islands -- include warblers, plovers, sandpipers, terns, hawks, flycatchers and sparrows, among others. The populations of many of these birds are presently in decline, and several species are currently protected as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 2000 established a matching grants program to fund projects promoting the conservation of neotropical migratory birds in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Funds may be used to protect, research, monitor, and manage bird populations and habitat as well as to conduct law enforcement and community outreach and education. By law, at least 75 percent of the money goes to projects in Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada, while the remaining 25 percent may go to projects in the United States.

Beginning in 2012, the NMBCA grant program initiated a pilot program to focus a portion of available funds on a group of particularly threatened neotropical migratory birds.  This new strategic direction emphasizes the need to attain measurable population gains in the highest priority migratory species. Long-term success will be measured as an increase in the abundance, distribution and viability of those populations.

The pilot program targets several species that are of high conservation priority; have an existing or soon to be completed conservation action plan; and are reasonably expected to respond in a measurable way to conservation activities within 5 to 6 years. The program seeks to fund projects that will help improve a species’ population status or significantly and measurably contribute -- through research, monitoring or assessment -- to understanding the factors limiting a species’ population.

“We must continue to improve our ability to target conservation funds to gain the most leverage and impact on species of concern,” said U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.  “The aim of this new pilot effort is to direct funding where it can be of maximum value to species that are already of conservation concern.”

Examples of projects receiving 2012 Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act grants include:

Protecting Critical Stopover Habitat for Buff-breasted Sandpiper II (Bolivia) Grantee: Asociación Armonía Funded under the new NMBCA Pilot Program, Asociación Armonía will conserve a large area of ideal foraging habitat for the buff-breasted sandpiper and other migrant shorebird species in the Beni Savanna. Specific actions include expansion of protected savanna, improved savanna management to provide foraging habitat for this species, outreach to private cattle ranches through an education program, and monitoring of buff-breasted sandpiper population, movements and habitat usage in the Beni Savannas.

The Arctic Shorebird Demographics Network II (U.S. and Canada) Grantee: Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences The overall goal of the Arctic Shorebird Demographics Network, now in its third of five years, is to determine what limits populations of nine high-priority target species by developing demographic models that can guide conservation action. Network partners, spread across the entire breeding range of these species in the Alaskan and Canadian arctic, will measure demographic rates such as adult survival, productivity, and other demographic parameters.

Targeted Grazing Management to Conserve the Sprague’s Pipit (U.S. and Canada) Grantee: Wildlife Conservation Society Funded under the new Pilot Program, the Wildlife Conservation Society and its partners will maintain and restore critical habitat for the Sprague’s pipit in northern Montana, North Dakota, and southern Saskatchewan. Specific activities include habitat improvement through grazing deferment, reseeding of croplands to native grasses and targeted outreach to ranchers and agencies on the conservation and management options for this grassland species. The partnership’s goal over the next 5 to 6 years is to increase the habitat for the Sprague’s pipit population in this landscape by at least 1 percent.

Conservation of Cerulean Warbler in Eastern Ecuador Grantee:  Jocotoco Foundation The Jocotoco Foundation and its partners will strengthen protection and management of a key wintering site for the cerulean warbler, the Jocotoco Foundation’s Narupa Reserve in Eastern Ecuador, which covers nearly 600 hectares of forest. Public outreach and ecotourism will be used to increase public support for the conservation of migratory species and their habitats in eastern Ecuador.

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