Awakening to the spirit and beauty of the northern Great Plains
Thursday, February 4, 2010
worth a look
Here is a miscellany of some items on bird conservation and grassland that have come to my attention recently:
If you have yet to read Margaret Atwood's article on bird conservation in the Manchester Guardian, you should take a minute and do so. A wonderful and cogent essay worth reading no matter how much you think you know about the issues. Here is a link.
Here is a recent articlefrom The Minot Daily News, quoting local bird people on the state of birds in their part of the plains.
The University of Wisconsin Extension (why is it that much of the most advanced stuff on grassland preservation and restoration comes from Wisonsin--could it be the influence of Leopold?) has a posted an attractive and helpful document that outlines the benefits of rotational grazing for grassland birds.
A study in Kansas shows that the military does a decent job of looking after native grassland as far as bird diversity goes. A recent item in Mother Jones online, entitled, "No More Bison? Try Tanks" explains.
Of course on the Canadian Plains, we've always known that the military has been conserving some of the wildest remnants of native grassland. Canadian Forces Base Suffield is a vital link in our tenuous chain back to the original biodiversity of the northern Great Plains. However, as this paper shows, the recent increase in natural gas infill drilling at Suffield is harming both Sprague's pipit and Baird's sparrow--two northern plains endemics. The number of wells at Suffield doubled and in some spots quadrupled between the 1990s and 2003 and the study, led by Canadian Wildlife Service's Brenda Dale, shows that these two declining species decrease sharply when well density goes up.
Finally, here is a publication from the American agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, demonstrating that conserving grassland and grazing it sustainably is important not merely for biodiversity but for the health of the entire planet. One of the best ways to capture carbon from the air and lock it into the soil is to maintain what they call "high producing vegetative forages in a grazing system."