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Bureau of Land Management’s National Conservation Partnership Award 2021

Oak Restoration Tour (c) Jamie Stephens

The Medford District BLM is pleased to nominate the Klamath Bird Observatory (KBO) for the BLM Conservation Partner Award. KBO has been our partner for over 20 years in which they have run a network of southwestern Oregon bird banding/monitoring stations including two stations for BLM (Medford and Lakeview Districts). However, we want to especially highlight their more recent activities that have directly improved the Medford District’s on-the-ground conservation actions.

“Public lands management requires collaboration and science-based strategies to address pressing natural resource issues,” said Elizabeth Burghard, District Manager for the BLM Medford District. “I’m honored to celebrate the work of the Klamath Bird Observatory in advancing bird conservation on public lands.”

KBO has been instrumental in applying avian science to inform oak conservation, a locally imperiled vegetation habitat in southwest OR. The 2016 Southwest OR Resource Management Plan identified oak systems as a unique plant habitat with specific management direction and support a high diversity of birds and other wildlife species. Oak systems are prominently represented on Medford BLM lands but are threatened by conifer encroachment, invasive species, and fragmentation. KBO has continued to coordinate the Klamath-Siskiyou Oak Network, which recently completed a Strategic Conservation Action Plan (SAP) and Companion Summary that serves as a roadmap for achieving continued and accelerated oak woodland conservation across the Bioregion. The SAP identifies a gradient of oak habitats in southwest OR that have unique threats and conservation strategies. One of these unique habitat gradients is southwest OR oak/chapparal. KBO continues to conduct avian monitoring to inform ecologically functioning habitat structure and arrangement to support bird biodiversity and has recently incorporated results from a 2019 field study examining chaparral-associated bird density in retention patches into an existing chaparral Decision Support Tool and into the Southern Oregon and Northern California Oak Landowner Guide (KBO and LRP 2014).

KBO has been banding birds and training banding interns for more than 20 years across the BLM Medford District. (c) Julia Rodrigues

KBO also works closely with the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, located in the Medford District. In 2020, they worked with the Monument ecologist to install 20 long-term permanent breeding bird transects that are designed to track population trends in the oak woodland community. This is a collaborative regional program between the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and KBO that will provide valuable information on bird population trends within the Monument and in the surrounding region. The Monument also works closely with KBO studying the Oregon Vesper Sparrow, a species of concern that has been petitioned for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. KBO is working to produce a series of products to inform conservation actions for this BLM Special Status Species. Specifically, they are identifying breeding ground limitations to nest success and productivity, as well as habitat relationships. This information will highlight potential management conservation actions. KBO is actively providing valuable education through social media, blogs, and web content that promotes the importance of BLM lands for this imperiled species.

Additionally, KBO is involved in several local partnerships, including the Rogue Forest Partners, comprised of ten partners, including non-profit organizations and federal and state forest land managers, who are engaging with private landowners and diverse communities to implement a Rogue Basin Cohesive Forest Restoration Strategy. Currently the partnership is implementing restoration across public and private lands in southwest Oregon with support of Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) funding. This partnership is already leveraging additional dollars to contribute toward fuel reduction and forest restoration across all-lands. KBO serves a critical role in the partnership, continuing to bring and emphasize the importance of science and the role of birds as indicators to inform and improve natural resource management actions.

Finally, KBO has been a state and national BLM partner in developing the Avian Knowledge Network, analyzing years of monitoring data, as well as helping to lead Partners In Flight (PIF) and the PIF Western Working Group. Most recently KBO has played an important role as we develop a strategy to establish Motus towers throughout Oregon and Washington. KBO has been our key partner in developing PIF bird conservation plans for the northwest. They are our go-to partner for bird conservation in Oregon!

The Bureau of Land Management manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 11 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $111 billion in economic output across the country in fiscal year 2020—more than any other agency in the Department of the Interior. These activities supported more than 498,000 jobs.

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