Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Public lands vital for wild fowl survival

Don't let any Tea Party fanatic or anti-government zealot say that public ownership of land is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Far from it, in fact.

Public lands - be they federal or state - are critical for bird species survival. Then again, so too are the properties owned by such agencies as Cleveland Metroparks, the Geauga Parks District and Lake Metroparks.

Toss in such locally owned lands as Mentor's Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve and those lands owned by the Holden Arboretum and you have the makings of not only birthing centers for baby birds but also important rest stops and wintering homes for migrating bird species.

This is the word from a group of concerned conservationists. Their official pronouncement came acroos as thus:

"A coalition of groups coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and including American Bird Conservancy (ABC) today released the 2011 State of the Birds Report, which finds that public lands provide essential habitat for the survival of hundreds of bird species. More than 300 of the 800 bird species inhabiting the United States have at least 50% of their distribution on public lands and waters. These findings underscore the importance of a number of pending policy and spending decisions affecting public lands that the Obama Administration is now weighing, and which could have far-reaching effects on bird populations.

“State of the Birds 2011 reveals the benefits of conserving public lands and the importance of how these lands are managed. The Administration now has multiple opportunities to conserve bird populations by promoting bird-smart land management policies and prioritizing spending,” said Steve Holmer, Senior Policy Advisor for American Bird Conservancy.

“Protecting birds and their habitats also protects recreational opportunities, clean water supplies, and many fundamental ecosystem services such as pest control and crop pollination that people often take for granted.”

“The State of the Birds Report describing the importance of public lands to our birds comes at a time of tremendous budgetary challenges and underscores the importance of maintaining support for the management of our precious public lands,” said George Wallace, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy.

“For example, in the state of Hawai'i and in the U.S. Pacific island territories, some of the country’s most imperiled bird species depend almost exclusively on public lands managed by federal, state, and territorial agencies. Especially in Hawai'i, it is an ongoing challenge to ensure that management of extensive public lands is focused on the conservation of unique bird species in imminent danger of extinction.”

Tough to argue with these thoughts, though you can expect to here "foul" from the people who don't give a hoot about owls, bluebirds or robins, let alone falcons, eagles, cranes and other avian species.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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