Land Bird Conservation Plan Colorado  

Introduction
Overview of Colorado
Physiographic Region 36

  • Grasslands
  • Lowland Riparian
  • Shore/Bank
  • Wetlands


  • Physiographic Region 62
    Physiographic Region 87
    Implementation Strategies
    Literature Cited
    Appendices

    Physiographic Region 36: Central Shortgrass Prairie

    Grasslands - Implementation Strategies

    Bird Monitoring

    Goal: To monitor or track all breeding birds in the shortgrass prairie habitat and document distribution, population trends, and abundance in a statistically acceptable manner.

    Objective: All species with AI > 2 will be monitored with count-based methods.

    Strategy: Monitoring will be accomplished through the combined efforts of agencies with primary responsibility for managing this habitat.

    Strategy: Monitoring will continue to rely on BBS data, with data from CBO's Monitoring Colorado's Birds (MCB) program incorporated as it becomes available.

    Status: MCB implemented grassland habitat transects in 1999 and ran a total of 30 transects; trend data should be available for most species within 5-12 years.

    Objective: All species with AI 2 will be tracked through count-based methods or their presence/absence noted in the state.

    Strategy: CBO's MCB monitoring program will address this.

    Status: MCB monitoring was implemented on grassland habitat beginning in 1999.

    Objective: Population demographic monitoring will be instituted for all species in grassland habitats with PT of 4 or 5.

    Strategy: CBO's MCB will address this objective.

    Status: MCB demographic monitoring will begin in 2001.

    Habitat Monitoring

    Goal: To monitor shortgrass prairie habitat in Colorado in order to document amount, condition, and ownership.

    Objective: Develop collaborative efforts to use GIS in mapping shortgrass, documenting amount, condition, ownership. Potential collaborators include CDOW, CNHP, CBO, NRCS, and TNC.

    Strategy: CBO's Prairie Partners Registry will track amount of shortgrass and its condition on the private lands of cooperators.

    Habitat Core Areas

    Goal: To conserve unique representatives and/or large, ecologically-functioning examples of shortgrass prairie habitat in Colorado used by birds during the breeding season, during migration, or during the winter.

    Objective: Obtain special designations for core areas that will serve to protect them.

    Strategy: Identify agency- or organization-specific means of designating and conserving core areas, and work with the appropriate agency or organization to promote conservation activities.

    Status: Appropriate areas that have been identified include the U.S. Forest Service Comanche and Pawnee National Grasslands, Colorado Natural Areas Program sites (Bonny Prairie in Yuma County), the 34,800 ha (86,000 ac) Chico Basin Ranch (El Paso and Pueblo counties), TNC's 16,200 ha (40,000 ac) Bohart Ranch (El Paso County), and the Arikaree Ranch (Yuma County).

    Status: Appropriate areas that have been identified as important during migration include playa lakes in southeastern Colorado, including the Neenoshe and Neesopah complex (Kiowa County).

    Strategy: Nominate appropriate core areas as Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and promote involvement of local groups in conserving these areas once they are designated.

    Status: Pawnee National Grassland was nominated in 1999; the IBA committee will make final selections in 2000.

    Objective: To maintain or increase the quantity and quality of shortgrass habitat on private lands.

    Strategy: Encourage landowners to take advantage of funding opportunities for creating, restoring, and maintaining shortgrass habitat on their properties. Suitable opportunities include NRCS's WHIP and EQIP, USFWS's Partners for Wildlife program, and the Conservation of Private Grazing Land and Voluntary Debt-for-Nature Contract provisions of the 1996 Farm Bill.

    Strategy: Encourage landowner enrollment in CBO's Prairie Partners program.

    Objective: To maintain or increase the quantity and quality of shortgrass habitat on public lands.

    Strategy: Integrate the BCP into management plans for public lands in the physiographic area.

    Strategy: Promote collaboration/cooperation between agencies, organizations, and individuals in conserving unique representatives/core areas with multiple ownership.

    Objective: To recreate the heterogeneous landscape mosaic of prehistory so that breeding birds are always offered a patchwork of large grassland parcels in a variety of structural stages and with varying amounts of forbs and shrubs.

    Strategy: Incorporate landscape-scale habitat management into management plans for public and private lands.

    Strategy: Use livestock, prescribed burns, and other management tools to create a mosaic of habitat patches of 50 ha (125 ac) each across the shortgrass landscape.

    Strategy: Encourage managers of public and private lands to remove some grassland areas from grazing for at least 25-50 years to provide habitat for species intolerant of grazing (Bock et al. 1992). On private lands, such long-term rest could be accomplished through conservation easements.

    Site-based Conservation

    Goal: To conserve local breeding, migratory stopover, and wintering sites that are important for the conservation of shortgrass prairie priority species.

    Objective: Identify agency- or organization-specific means of designating and conserving key local sites. Work with appropriate agencies and organizations to designate such sites, and promote conservation activities.

    Strategy: Within the historical breeding range of Greater and Lesser Prairie-Chicken, protect and/or recreate suitable lek site habitat.

    Objective: Identify key local sites that are appropriate for designation as IBAs, nominate them, and promote involvement of local groups in conserving these areas once they are designated.

    Status: Sites within the shortgrass prairie ecosystem were nominated in 1999, and the IBA committee will make final selections in 2000.

    Management Practices

    Goal: To promote management practices that benefit birds on shortgrass prairie.

    Objective: Best Management Practices (BMPs) manuals will be produced and distributed.

    Status: In 1999, CBO completed BMPs for four species (Long-billed Curlew, Loggerhead Shrike, Cassin's Sparrow, and Grasshopper Sparrow) for use by land managers at the Comanche National Grassland. An additional set of BMPs for 13 species is under development by CBO; these will be presented in nontechnical language (with landowners as the target audience) as part of the Prairie Partners program and will be available from CBO in early 2000.

    Objective: Identify key landowners and land managers and encourage them to incorporate best management practices to conserve shortgrass species and their habitat.

    Status: CBO's Prairie Partners program contacted more than 125 landowners in 1999 to invite them to join the program. Interested landowners will be provided copies of the shortgrass BMP manual in 2000.

    Interstate/International Wintering Grounds

    Goal: To conserve the wintering ground habitat used by Colorado's migratory shortgrass prairie birds outside of the state.

    Objective: Identify the wintering distribution and key habitat associations of priority species.

    Status: Currently being addressed by field work in northern Mexico by CBO (see Leukering and Bradley 1997), and in southeastern Arizona by the Biological Resources Division of USGS.

    Objective: Track amount of available habitat on the wintering grounds.

    Strategy: Utilize GIS (state GAP projects, Heritage Program, and/or CBO).

    Strategy: Coordinate with appropriate state PIFs, domestic and foreign government agencies, and NGOs to obtain data.

    Objective: To protect wintering habitat of priority species.

    Strategy: Coordinate with appropriate state PIFs, domestic and foreign government agencies, and NGOs to protect wintering habitat through Habitat Core Areas and Site-based Conservation goals and objectives.

    Migration Concerns

    Goal: To protect migratory stopover habitat used by priority species that breed in Colorado shortgrass prairie.

    Objective: Identify important migratory stopover areas for priority species that breed in Colorado, and key sites for priority species that breed elsewhere.

    Objective: Track amount, condition, and ownership of key migratory stopover sites.

    Strategy: Coordinate with appropriate state PIFs, domestic and foreign government agencies, and NGOs to protect migratory habitat through Habitat Core Areas and Site-based Conservation goals and objectives.

    Outreach and Education

    Goal: To provide information on shortgrass birds (conservation, habitat needs, natural history, etc.) to children, teachers, naturalists, landowners, natural resource professionals, and other interested parties.

    Strategy: CBO will produce a booklet for distribution in elementary schools as part of its Prairie Partners program.

    Status: The booklet ("The Shortgrass Prairie: Activities for Learning about North America's Grassland Ecosystems") was completed in 1999 and is available from CBO.

    Strategy: Produce an agricultural extension bulletin on conservation of shortgrass prairie and its birds.

    Strategy: Make educational materials available at local nature centers and natural resource agency offices.

    Strategy: Hold workshops and field programs for teachers.

    Strategy: Hold workshops and field programs for natural resource professionals (CDOW, BLM, and USFS staff).

    Strategy: Present information at Teacher Association meetings, conferences, and other annual meetings.

    Strategy: Submit manuscripts to popular magazines for children and adults.

    Research Priorities

    Goal: To identify and facilitate research that will aid in understanding and managing grassland habitats for Colorado's birds.

    Objective: To identify the top ten research needs in shortgrass prairie habitat in Colorado.

    Strategy: Update the list of research needs annually to reflect shifting conservation priorities and to remove research needs from the list as they are investigated.

    Strategy: Solicit input from researchers and managers on research needs and accomplishments.

    Status: The following needs have been identified:

    1. The interplay of precipitation, habitat condition, and population distributions at the landscape level, especially of species that exhibit nomadism and shift their breeding grounds each year (e.g., Cassin's Sparrow and Lark Bunting).

    2. The effects on bird populations of prescribed burning in shortgrass.

    3. The effects on bird populations of different grazing regimes.

    4. Identification of key migratory stopover and wintering areas and habitats.

    5. Effects of prairie dog control operations and sport hunting on bird populations.

    6. Patch size effects--are shortgrass birds area-sensitive?

    Objective: Facilitate investigations to answer these questions.

    Strategy: Provide information about priority needs to universities, public and private research entities, identify funding sources, and promote collaboration between management and research agencies.




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