The newly released conservation plan, Population and Habitat Objectives for Landbirds in Prairies, Oak, and Riparian Habitats of Western Oregon and Washington (Rockwell et al 2022), provides quantitative and multi-scaled population and habitat objectives for 26 focal and seven imperiled bird species. As the title suggests, the plan focuses on prairie, oak, and riparian habitats in the Puget Lowlands, Willamette Valley, and Klamath Mountains ecoregions of western Oregon and Washington. This document was prepared for the Oregon-Washington Chapter of Partners in Flight (PIF), Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Forest Service.
This document is an updated version of the Conservation Strategy for Landbirds in the Lowlands and Valleys of Western Oregon and Washington (Altman 2000). Among PIF bird conservation plans, this plan like its predecessor has quantitative and prescriptive objectives that were established for habitat attributes important to landbird species.
“This important document provides both land managers and bird conservationists answers to the essential questions of how much, where, and by when,” says Bob Altman of the American Bird Conservancy “it sets a new threshold for conservation standards in regional planning.”
Recommendations included are intended to guide planning efforts and management actions of land managers, direct expenditures of government and non-government organizations, and stimulate monitoring and research to support landbird conservation. The recommendations are also expected to be the biological foundation for developing and implementing integrated conservation strategies for multiple species at multiple geographic scales to ensure functional ecosystems with healthy bird populations.
“Partnerships are the backbone of Joint Ventures. A primary role of Migratory Bird Joint Ventures is to step-down continental habitat priorities for waterfowl, waterbirds, landbirds, and shorebirds to each Joint Venture region. This plan and the unique partnership between Pacific Birds, Klamath Bird Observatory, and PIF fills this gap; it frames conservation delivery strategies, sets the stage for working towards collective goals, and helps us meet our federal mandate,“ says Sara Evans-Peters U.S. Assistant Coordinator, Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture.
The section on imperiled species is unique to this Oregon-Washington PIF plan. Imperiled species were selected based on a population estimate of <2,000 individuals in any of the three ecoregions; a high degree of association with prairie, oak, and riparian habitats; and a historic anecdotal baseline as a relatively common species. The focal species approach assumes that the suite of focal species will cover the habitat requirements of imperiled bird species, but this may not hold true for imperiled species that are ecological specialists. In this region, we are fortunate to have uniquely detailed data regarding the population status and conservation needs of many of our imperiled species. To ensure their conservation, imperiled species were recognized and given their own biological objectives and habitat attributes, as well as integrated where appropriate as species to benefit from conservation actions directed towards focal species. Highlighted below is the Oregon Vesper Sparrow.
This document is intended to complement the goals, objectives, and strategies in several other planning and conservation processes and initiatives by filling a niche that is usually absent in those efforts: quantitative, prescriptive recommendations for habitat conditions most suitable for individual and suites of landbird species at several geographic scales (e.g., regional, subregional, site). The use and implementation of these recommendations can be done independently for landbird-specific conservation, or complementarily within the context of broader conservation goals to support and strengthen other plans.