Are you guys ready to accomplish something bigger than what we did in the late Habitat Stamp Bill? Read on if you will. Again I thank you all for taking the time to read and respond.
Well guys here we go again laying some foundation for future discussion about increased waterfowl habitat and increased waterfowl hunting opportunity State Wide. Many Federal related issues will certainly play out next year that will Ultimately Negatively Impact the future of waterfowl habitat conservation and waterfowl hunting opportunities in the state of Iowa. You may learn about them in coming months but you will certainly recognize them by 2013.
We ask that you take some time to ask our IDNR director about the Federal Duck Stamp issue and how that issue alone will negatively impact waterfowl habitat conservation and waterfowl hunting in Iowa. What you will learn will blow you away.
With that said we will be working on a very specific conservation initiative to counter said potential negative impacts. At the same time work across the lines to gain the support that is needed to achieve success and opportunity that provides tangibles that not only can be seen but used by all. We ask that you read about the (Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI)
I wrote about this form of habitat Management or program 2 years before / prior to a national disaster. I did so from a perspective as alternative Habitat Management where Traditional Conservation measures or practices have largely been unobtainable due to present and future land use policies, that have increased pressures out on the working landscape, that have limited the success of protecting native wetland habitat and that have limited habitat conservation programs. 95% of the Iowa landscape is managed by the private individual and rightly so as we are highly an AG state. How can we reach a greater % of the Iowa landscape / private owners, farmers really, in helping us achieve a level of habitat success many in Iowa today feel or think simply cannot be achieved through Traditional Habitat Conservation Practices? You / We need to seriously think about that!
Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI)
Under a new Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative, USDA will work with farmers, ranchers and
other landowners to manage portions of their land to enhance habitat for migrating birds.
The initiative includes portions of eight States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. USDA will use conservation programs
administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which is coordinating
with State and private organizations. NRCS will assist producers in developing, enhancing
and managing habitat for the migratory birds expected to pass through two major North
American flyways to the Gulf in the coming months. In cooperation with its conservation
partners, NRCS has identified priority areas in each state that offer the greatest habitat
potential for migrating bird populations. NRCS anticipates improving habitat on up to
100,000 to 150,000 acres based on projected producer participation. The signup will run
from June 28 to August 1. Interested producers should contact their local USDA Service
Center for additional information.
Migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds in response to
changes in food availability, habitat, or weather. Successful migration often depends on the
availability of key food resources at points along the migration route. During migration,
stop-over and staging areas are important for migratory birds to “fuel up” for the longdistance
journey. Most shorebirds travel north each year to historical breeding areas in the
arctic and subarctic where disturbance is low and food availability is high. Later in the year,
they travel from these arctic breeding grounds to winter in areas as far south as the tip of
South America. In the coming months, they will instinctively be looking to stop for food and
rest in the marshes and coastlands of the northern Gulf of Mexico. These migratory birds are
expected to pass through major North American flyways, including the Central and
Mississippi, in the coming months. The Central Flyway merges with the Mississippi Flyway
between Missouri and the Gulf of Mexico. About 40% of all North American migrating
waterfowl and shorebirds use these major flyways
. Breeding ducks from central Canada
arrive in the region surrounding the Gulf of Mexico in late fall (November) and usually
spend the winter on flooded crop fields, reservoirs and refuges.
The NRCS Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative will focus on maximizing and enhancing habitat
on private lands for the migratory birds most immediately affected by the loss of habitat as a
result of the oil spill. Emphasis will be placed on shorebirds, Neotropicals and waterfowl
species that use shallow water and mudflat/sandflat habitats.
Where does the Initiative apply?
The Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative will maximize migratory bird habitat and food
resources on private lands in portions of eight States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas.
These States are in major North American flyways, the primary routes shorebirds and
waterfowl follow in their annual migration to and through the Gulf region. Each of these
States has identified priority counties in the flyways where agricultural lands and
conservation easements could be enhanced to maximize habitat and food resources for
migrating bird populations. These states, due to their more southerly latitudes, provide
critical wintering habitat for a significant number of waterfowl, wading birds, sparrows and
other birds considered short distance migrants who are escaping cold temperatures farther
north. These areas are also important agricultural regions for grain crops such as rice, corn,
soybean, wheat, and milo. These same areas are "seed bank rich" with native annual grasses
(wild millets) and forbs (duck potato, yellow nutsedge, smartweeds) that will quickly respond
to properly managed soil and water enhancements.
When does the Initiative begin?
Because some species arrive in the Gulf as early as mid-July, the need for enhanced habitat
and food resources is urgent. NRCS will begin working with applicants to develop or
enhance habitat conditions starting as early as mid-July. The signup will run from June 28 to
August 1, 2010.
How will the Initiative work?
NRCS will use its technical expertise and the financial assistance from existing Farm Bill
programs to enhance wetlands, maximizing habitat and available food resources. NRCS has
thousands of wetland conservation easements enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program
(WRP) in the initiative states. Through the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative, NRCS will
help farmers, ranchers, and other landowners implement additional management strategies on
these easements to optimize habitat on coastal and inland wetlands for migratory birds and
other species. Using the technical expertise of two other programs—the Environmental
Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)—
NRCS will work with producers to enhance available habitat. Eligible lands include
wetlands farmed under natural conditions, existing farmed wetlands and prior converted
croplands. Rice fields are particularly suited for this initiative, as are aquaculture farms
(catfish and crayfish) no longer in production, since they can easily be flooded to provide
these immediate habitat conditions. Shallow water, ranging from mudflats to less than one
foot, is key to creating suitable habitat. Most shorebirds forage in water less than 4 inches
deep; most other water birds, including waterfowl, forage in water less than 12 inches deep.
NRCS will provide financial and technical resources to agricultural producers to install
practices which control water levels and enhance habitat to attract migratory birds. NRCS
has identified three essential practices (along with supporting practices) to achieve this.
NRCS anticipates improving habitat on up to 100,000 to 150,000 acres based on expected