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State of the Birds 2013

The fourth State of the Birds report highlights the enormous contributions private landowners make to bird and habitat conservation, and state-of-the-birds-report-coveropportunities for increased contributions. Roughly 60% of the land area in the United States (1.43 billion acres) is privately owned by millions of individuals, families, organizations, and corporations, including 2 million ranchers and farmers and about 10 million woodland owners. More than 100 species have 50% or more of their U.S. breeding distributions on private lands.

Birds are important indicators of the health of our environment. To assess bird populations and conservation opportunities on private lands across the nation, the State of the Birds report combined the latest eBird distribution data with land ownership data from the Protected Areas Database of the U.S. As in past reports, the report focused on species dependent on a single primary habitat, or habitat obligates.

The results emphasize the high dependence on private lands among grassland, wetland, and eastern forest birds, with important conservation opportunities existing in all habitats. Many conservation programs available to private landowners offer win-win opportunities to implement land management practices that benefit birds and landowners. The success stories highlighted in the report demonstrate that voluntary private landowner efforts can yield real and meaningful bird conservation results.

Working cooperatively with private landowners is a central theme of ISC-Audubon. That is why ISC-Audubon has created the John James Audubon Conservation Network and the Audubon Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary Program for landowners. ISC-Audubon is looking to greatly expand its network of certified bird sanctuaries over the next year.

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Johnny Appleseed Natural Area Conversion and Native Habitat Demonstration at Urbana University

Campus ShotISC Charter Member, Urbana University has launched an effort to establish the Johnny Appleseed Natural Area on campus.  The major goals associated with the project include:

  • Protect and enhance upper basin watershed represented by our 128 acre campus.
  • Restores natural features that contribute to quality of life and natural heritage.
  • Enhances educational opportunities.
  • Reduces and eliminates nonnative, invasive species of plants.
  • Enhance habitat for rare wildlife (Indiana bat).
  • Enhances recreation- and ecotourism-based economic development in an economically depressed region.

The University is proposing to enhance the natural area features of the Urbana University campus for intense educational purposes; convert significant portions the campus to native Ohio plant communities; enhance upland watershed landscape features; demonstrate best management practices for created wetlands and wetland vegetation; and maximize the educational efficacy of the campus’ sustainability features. The University intends to “walk the walk” of sustainability and aggressively showcase those converted and enhanced landscape features to our own faculty, staff, and students, as well as school groups, businesses, organizations, and other community members.

  • 11.3 acres of previously mowed grass converted to Ohio prairie vegetation, established from a 24-species seed mix sowed spring 2009 (hereinafter referred to as “the prairie”)
  • 1.3 acre natural vegetation in Chinese Memorial woodlot (hereinafter known as “the woodlot”) north of McConnell. Current vegetation will be herbicide treated October 2009; native seed mix will be sown before winter 2009.
  • 1.7 acres at north entrance to campus will be herbicide treated and sowed with appropriate native seed mix in fall 2009. The area is designated as the “entrance prairie/savanna.”
  • 1.0 acre in storm water catchment basin (hereinafter referred to as the “basin”) at northwest corner of prairie is converting naturally to native wetland species. We will continue to monitor the area and will cooperate with the USF&WS to supplement conversion by planting if deemed necessary to complete the conversion.

The aggregate of the natural areas accounts for 36.3 acres of the University’s 128 acre campus, a significant addition to Champaign County’s natural and protected acreage. The 36.3 acres encompassed by this proposal will be among the more intensively interpreted, most readily accessible, and innovatively presented set of native habitats in the region.

Urbana University embraces the tenets of natural resources stewardship and sustainability as cornerstones of our academic programs, extra- and co-curricular endeavors, facilities and grounds management, community engagement, and institutional ethic. We are the nation’s first university chartered by the International Sustainability Council; the country’s first Bird Campus USA under the auspices of Audubon Lifestyles; and we have achieved numerous other sustainability related milestones detailed within UU’s ISC Charter. This proposal seeks funding to further enhance UU’s campus to capitalize on the educational potential offered by “walking the walk” of sustainability in a manner that clearly meets the following objectives:

  • Protecting and enhancing the headwater drainage (upper basin watershed) served by our 128 acre campus, including the catchment basin and the rainwater garden.
  • Increasing habitat protection
  • Reducing/eliminating exotic invasive plant species
  • Restoring high quality, viable habitat for plant and animal species
  • Benefitting the Federally Endangered Indiana Bat by controlling invasive species in the understory of The Forest and The Grove, favoring shagbark hickory individuals, and girdling selected trees to create snags for bat roosting.
  • Restoring and preserving aquatic communities and wetlands
  • Restoring natural habitats in a very visible and easily accessible near-urban setting at an educational institution, contributing to quality of life and natural heritage
  • Planting vegetation for filtration
  • Incorporating aesthetically pleasing and ecologically informed design in a highly visible learning environment
  • Enhancing educational opportunities in a perfect location with diverse elements
  • Supporting comprehensive open space planning in a county rich in natural areas and demonstrating centuries-long sound and highly productive agricultural land management and stewardship; our campus is connected by bike path (Simon Kenton Trail) to Cedar Bog just four miles south
  • Providing multiple recreational, economic, and aesthetic preservation benefits
  • Enhancing economic development regionally by establishing a major natural attraction at a university already responsible for considerable economic activity

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References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles
www.audubonlifestyles.com
 
The International Sustainability Council
www.thesustainabilitycouncil.org 

General Motors
www.gm.com

Toyota
www.toyota.com

Fisker Automotive
www.fiskerautomotive.com

Golfpreserves
www.golfcourseproject.com 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership
www.cmhp.org

Chesapeake Bay Foundation
www.cbf.org 

University of Alaska Fairbanks
www.uaf.edu 

Taylor Properties Group
www.taylorpropertiesgrp.com  

Urbana University
www.urbana.edu 

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA)
www.gcsaa.org 

American Society of Golf Course Architects
www.asgca.org

The United States Golf Association (USGA)
www.usga.org

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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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