Land Bird Conservation Plan Colorado  

Executive Summary
Overview of Colorado
Physiographic Region 36
Physiographic Region 62

  • Alpine Tundra
  • Aspen
  • Cliff/Rock
  • High Elevation Riparian
  • Lowland Riparian
  • Mixed Conifer
  • Mountain Shrubland
  • Ponderosa Pine
  • Sagebrush Shrubland
  • Spruce Fir
  • Wetlands
  • Physiographic Region 87
    Implementation Strategies
    Literature Cited
    Appendices

    Physiographic Region 62: Southern Rocky Mountains

    Wetlands - Implementation Strategies

    Bird Monitoring

    Goal: To monitor or track all breeding birds in wetlands habitat to 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 efforts will continue to rely on BBS data, with CBO's Monitoring Colorado's Birds (MCB) data incorporated as it becomes available.

    Status: MCB implemented wetlands transects in 1999 and ran a total of nine 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: The MCB monitoring program will address this.

    Status: MCB was implemented in wetlands habitat in 1999.

    Objective: All species with PT of 4 or 5 will be tracked with demographic monitoring.

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

    Status: MCB demographic monitoring will begin in 2001.

    Objective: Establish monitoring protocols that precisely monitor specific populations of Willets and Short-eared Owls.

    Strategy: The MCB monitoring program will address this.

    Status: Beginning in 1998, MCB has conducted a thorough annual census of all known Willet breeding sites in Colorado (several North Park sites and smaller populations on the Yampa River and at Fruitgrower's Reservoir). Short-eared Owl protocols are in the planning stage.

    Habitat Monitoring

    Goal: To document the amount, condition, and ownership of wetlands habitat in Colorado.

    Objective: Develop collaborative efforts to use GIS in mapping wetlands habitat, documenting amount, condition, and ownership. (Mapping of important examples of wetlands is needed as a first step in a monitoring program. Subsequent monitoring of the areas should include size, ecological composition, and landscape context.)

    Status: This effort has not been initiated to date. Potential collaborators include CDOW, CNHP, CBO, USGS, USFS, and TNC.

    Strategy: Support the wetlands programs of the Colorado Natural Heritage Program and the Colorado Division of Wildlife and their initiatives to identify high priority wetlands that support native natural communities or high priority species.

    Objective: Identify and protect the ecological processes that support specific wetlands and their associated bird communities. This is particularly important where wetlands are supported by groundwater.

    Habitat Core Areas

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

    Objective: Identify such areas, use agency- or organization-specific means of designating and conserving them, and work with the appropriate agency or organization to promote conservation activities.

    Objective: Identify any of these areas that are appropriate for designation as Important Bird Areas (IBAs), nominate them, and promote involvement of local groups in conserving these areas once they are designated.

    Status: Sites with wetlands habitat were nominated in 1999 (including Walden Reservoir), and the IBA committee will make final selections in 2000.

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

    Strategy: Encourage landowners to take advantage of funding opportunities and expertise for creating, restoring, and maintaining wetlands habitat on their properties.

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

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

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

    Site-based Conservation

    Goal: To conserve local breeding sites, migratory stopover sites, and wintering sites in wetlands that are important for the conservation of 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. Work with the State Wetlands Initiative to ensure that funded conservation projects support the goals of this plan.

    Strategy: Work with waterfowl management interests to conserve regionally significant areas, insuring that non-game interests are maintained.

    Strategy: Identify areas with high numbers of breeding priority bird and determine if they are appropriate as site-based conservation projects

    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 with wetlands habitat were nominated in 1999, and the IBA committee will make final selections in 2000.

    Management Practices

    Goal: To promote management practices that benefit birds in wetlands habitats.

    Objective: A Best Management Practices (BMP) manual specific to wetlands birds will be produced and distributed. (A more general wetlands BMP manual is available: Peale 1996.) The manual should include the following topics and recommendations:

    1. Conservation activities in wetlands should enhance the current legal protection of wetland functions by emphasizing the protection of natural wetland structure, composition, and the ecological processes that support them and their bird residents. The current focus on protecting jurisdictional wetlands is insufficient to conserve many wetlands associated species, particularly the more sensitive bird species (Buhlmann et al. 1996).

    2. Include bird conservationists in the process of planning and approving new reservoirs to produce more bird-friendly projects.

    3. Develop grazing plans for wetlands that support wetlands bird conservation. Grazing is a natural, perhaps even essential, ecological process. However, large numbers of livestock (cattle) permitted to graze in wetlands during the breeding season may accidentally trample nests or young and significantly alter habitat.

    4. Impose limits on free-ranging dogs.

    5. Guidance on landscape context, particularly with respect to buffers against incompatible land uses (e.g., some urbanization).

    6. Man-made wetlands (e.g., reservoirs surrounded by extensive marshes, return flows from ditches and canals, agricultural return flows, etc.) that provide habitat for birds, including high priority species, should be managed to protect the supported bird communities. This includes BMPs centered on water level management, recreation, maintenance.

    Status: Not yet initiated.

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

    Objective: Integrate wetlands bird BMPs into waterfowl management plans as appropriate, insuring conservation of the entire avian community.

    Interstate/International Wintering Grounds

    Goal: To conserve the wintering ground habitat used by birds of wetlands habitats.

    Objective: Track the amount of habitat available 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: Protect key tracts of wintering habitat.

    Strategy: Identify the wintering distribution and key habitat associations 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 of birds of wetlands habitats as they migrate outside of the state.

    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 wetlands birds (conservation, habitat needs, ecological processes, natural history, etc.) to children, teachers, naturalists, landowners, natural resource professionals, and other interested parties.

    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 and USFS staff).

    Strategy: Present information at Teacher Association meetings, conferences, 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 wetlands habitats for Colorado's birds.

    Objective: To identify the top ten research needs in wetlands 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 research needs have been identified:

    1. The habitat requirements, including landscape context, of wetlands birds. This is particularly important where wetland area is small and surrounded by dissimilar vegetation types.

    2. The actual locations of nesting habitat for Willets and Short-eared Owls.

    3. The criteria for successful reserve design. Some examples exist relative to human disturbance (Klein et al. 1995), but little is known about the more comprehensive needs of wetland avian communities.

    Strategy: Facilitate investigations to answer these questions by providing information about priority needs to universities, public and private research entities, identifying funding sources, and promoting collaboration between management and research agencies.


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