Big News in Avian Private Land Conservation
A pair of lesser prairie chickens. Photo Credit: NRCS
This month, two major events affecting private landowners occurred in the world of avian conservation:
The State of the Birds 2013: Report on Private Lands was released stating that roughly 60% of the land in the U.S. is privately owned by millions of private landowners, including 2 million ranchers and farmers and 10 million woodland owners. The report also found that at least half of the bird species analyzed have 50% or more of their distributions on private lands. As such, participation of private landowners is critical when attempting to conserve avian species and valuable bird habitat.
Read the State of the Birds Report PDF(4.6 MB)
As noted in Houma Today
, this report concludes that “voluntary land conservation programs have had a positive impact on the nation’s avian species.” Additionally, according to U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, “our nation’s most effective conservation efforts are partnerships in which federal, state, and local governments work hand-in-hand with private landowners.”
Additionally, on July 8, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that a final decision on whether to protect the lesser prairie chicken, which resides almost entirely on private lands in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, under the Endangered Species Act has been delayed until March 2014. Efforts by private landowners have been vital to the recent rehabilitation of the struggling lesser prairie chicken populations, and contributed to FWS's decision to delay listing species as threatened.
Read More about the Lesser Prairie Chicken
The Private Landowner Network plays an integral role in facilitating a wide variety of partnerships by providing private landowners with information on voluntary land conservation programs and free market tools. Through the PLN you can find programs and funding opportunities that work best for preserving your land and the species it contains, while keeping your working landscape working!
House Passes an Updated Farm Bill
On Thursday the House passed an updated version of the Farm Bill that failed two weeks ago, this time without a provision for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. In the coming weeks the House and Senate will convene to craft a compromise bill before the month-long August recess.
Read More on the Farm Bill
U.S. Supreme Court Case: A change in how landowners mitigate development impacts
Wetlands. Photo Credit: NRCS.
In Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, a landowner and water district could not agree on appropriate permit conditions to mitigate environmental impacts if the landowner was issued a permit to develop wetlands on his property. The landowner sued the district saying that the subsequent denial of his permit was an unconstitutional ‘taking’ of his property and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed.
This decision will have far reaching impacts on how landowners and governments negotiate development projects. While it gives landowners better footing to challenge the way a government issues development permits, it also may deter governments from negotiating with private landowners, resulting in flat out approval or denial of permit applications.
This decision could also be problematic for mitigation banking (a condition often used to off-set development impacts). While the court states that requiring a landowner to pay for off-site mitigation is still a valid condition, the reason why it was a ‘taking’ in this case was because the mitigation land was too far away and the ratio of preserved land to developed land was too high. Without more guidance on what will be acceptable, mitigation banks and governments could struggle with the proper parameters for compensatory land conservation in the future.
Read More on Koontz
NRCS Approves Funding for Floodplain Protection in Areas Affected by Hurricane Sandy
Floodplain easement in Stanislaus County, CA. Photo Credit: NRCS.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), through its Emergency Watershed Protection Program, is providing up to $124.8 million in funding for Floodplain Easements in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The NRCS purchases floodplain easements to restore lands around water bodies to their natural conditions and prevent development in the area. Floodplains are vital to the health of water bodies and landowners by protecting them will enhance the environmental, economic, and social benefits they provide.
The deadline for applications is September 2, 2013. Apply to your local NRCS office today!
Read the Conservation Exchange update
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It's Summer! Time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
Check out the newly redesigned Recreation.gov for some great trip ideas.
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PLN will be developing a webpage devoted to discussing the successes and challenges of farmers, forest owners and ranchers. Click here to share your story on PLN.
Become a member of RFF and its PLN and show your support for farmers, forest landowners, and ranchers.
To help private landowners, who are stewards of 71% of our country’s land, and learn about membership benefits click here.
J.R. Simplot Helps Fund RFF's Conservation Initiative in Idaho
RFF is pleased to welcome our first corporate conservation leader for Idaho. The J. R. Simplot Company Foundation has provided a generous grant to help establish the Idaho Conservation Center website. RFF welcomes additional funding to complete the project.
Current Conservation Projects
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Maine Conservation Center
Houston Conservation Center
California Conservation Center
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