Early this month, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the release of the State of the Birds 2013 Report on Private Lands. This publication is a collaborative endeavor that is part of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative.
The report underlines the importance of private sector conservation commitments to the multifaceted effort to keep our nation's bird population robust. It also concludes that while those initiatives are proving highly successful, a long-term strategy is essential for the preservation of crucial bird habitats.
"Sixty percent of U.S. land is in private hands, making the efforts of farmers, ranchers and landowners critical when it comes to creating, restoring and protecting bird habitat," Vilsack said in a statement issued by the USDA July 2.
The secretary stressed that because so much of the bird population exists on privately owned land, conservation efforts necessarily are a partnership between various governmental bodies and the private sector. That point was emphasized by Jewell.
"Our nation's most effective conservation efforts are partnerships in which federal, state and local governments work hand-in-hand with private landowners and other stakeholders," she said.
Data provided by the USDA illustrates why involvement of the private sector is so important. According to the department, "individuals, families, organizations and corporations, including 2 million ranchers and farmers and about 10 million woodland owners, own and manage 1.43 billion acres, roughly 60 percent of the land area of the United States." Consequently, much of the bird population is hugely impacted by how privately owned land is managed.
The State of the Birds report documents a number of highly successful collaborative conservation undertakings that are helping keep the bird population healthy and plentiful. Anyone interested in learning more about these efforts can access the report at www.stateofthebirds.org.
The Messenger applauds officials at the USDA and DOI for their important championing of and support for these conservation projects. When public and private sector leaders work together rather than at cross-purposes great things can be accomplished.