“whn lan s ll ts n, an th n sll by hs lan; hn bth n up btt by asn thpatnshp, ha cnsatn.”
—Aldo Leopold, The Farmer as a Conservationist
Legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold began his career in the U.S. ForestService in the Southwest, where he learned about resource management onpublic lands. But as he returned to the Midwest where he was raised—andobserved the tragedy of the Dust Bowl and a raft of New Deal programsaiming to restore farmlands—he came to understand how conservation ofcomplete ecosystems is inextricably linked to conservation on private lands.Leopold wrote, “All the regulations in the world will not save our game un-less the farmer sees t to leave his land in a habitable condition for game.”Today Leopold’s words could be adapted more broadly to all private land-owners and all wildlife, especially for birds. Half of the more than 200 Amer-ican bird species analyzed in this report have 50% or more of their distribu-tions on private lands. About 90% of the Prairie Pothole Region our nation’smost productive waterfowl breeding grounds is in private ownership. Thestory is similar for grasslands and eastern forest lands—both 85% privatelyowned, with greater than 80% of bird distributions on private lands.This fourth State of the Birds report is the nation’s rst review of birddistribution and conservation opportunities on private lands. In this report,you’ll read about threatened bird populations supported almost entirely byprivate landowners, like the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler of centralTexas. You’ll also read about new models of win-win conservation on work-ing lands, such as the Sage Grouse Initiative, where more than 700 land-owners have joined an eort to manage ranchlands across 2 million acres inways that conserve habitat—and create more nutritious forage for livestockin the process.This report celebrates the many landowners across our nation who areexemplary stewards of habitat for birds, as well as clean air and water fortheir fellow Americans. Our report comes at a time when private landsconservation policy and funding is being considered for the future, and wehope our information and analysis will contribute to those eorts.Private lands conservation takes many forms, such as incentives from gov-ernment programs, technical assistance from university extension services,and easements brokered by nonprot groups. In all cases, though, the mostcrucial component is the eager, conservation-minded landowner. Thank-fully, private landowners are volunteering to protect and restore the habitatfunctions of their lands. The demand from landowners willing to partner inconservation eorts is so great, in fact, it far outstrips the current availabil-ity of programs and initiatives. Government budgets may be tight, but thisreport demonstrates that private lands conservation is cost-ecient. Indeed,when government resources are paired with local and private resources inpartnership with landowners, the result on the ground is often magnied—that ideal outcome where 1+1=3.This report appeals to America’s land ethic. “The landscape of any farmis the owner’s portrait of himself,” wrote Leopold. This report shows thatprivate lands have critical conservation value, and that landowners canmeasure their yield not only in bushels and head and cords, but also in bluebirds, hawks, and canvasbacks.
North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. CommitteeAmerican Bird ConservancyAssociation o Fish and Wildlie AgenciesCornell Lab o OrnithologyDucks UnlimitedKlamath Bird ObservatoryNational Audubon SocietyNational Council or Air and Stream Improvement, Inc.The Nature ConservancyRocky Mountain Bird ObservatoryUniversity o IdahoU.S. Fish and Wildlie ServiceUSDA Forest ServiceUSDA Natural Resources Conservation ServiceU.S. Geological Survey
N H M G