Grassland habitat is the most threatened in North America, and now two conservation organizations are partnering to protect grassland nesting bird populations in Texas and Oklahoma.
The Texas Agricultural Land Trust (TALT) is the largest state-based land trust in Texas, and Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV) is a regional partnership of federal and state wildlife agencies, conservation groups and private industry dedicated to conserving bird habitat throughout the western Great Plains.
The new partnership focuses on habitat protection in Texas and western Oklahoma. Funding from the PLJV ConocoPhillips Capacity Grant Program allows for $125,000 in support to extend TALT’s reach among landowners, support the negotiation of conservation easements, educate landowners about conservation practices, and foster collaboration with key conservation partners.
“Working lands provide diverse habitats, and are the first step in ensuring stable, healthy populations of any wildlife, including waterfowl and gamebird populations,” explained TALT CEO Chad Ellis. “We’re thankful for the support from Playa Lakes Joint Venture’s ConocoPhillips Capacity Grant that allows us to protect open spaces and ensure working lands remain working – a benefit to birds that extends far beyond the bounds of this grant.”
The PLJV ConocoPhillips Grant Program is made possible through ongoing contributions by ConocoPhillips and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Over the last 19 years, PLJV capacity grants have helped to protect, restore, or enhance over 1.5 million acres of habitat, primarily grasslands, and continue to generate results well beyond the expiration of their funding, averaging over 40,000 acres of habitat delivery in each of the last 3 years.
Texas and Western Oklahoma support shortgrass, tallgrass, and mixed prairies that provide habitat for a variety of grassland birds. However, these important grasslands have declined, with about 1.6 million acres of land lost to development in Texas and Oklahoma from 2001 to 2016. Protection of habitat through voluntary conservation easements ensures long-term sustainability of grassland bird habitat.
TALT conservation easements are designed for working lands, allowing for needed flexibility for landowners to manage their property. Technical assistance through TALT will allow for landowners to voluntarily implement practices that benefit healthy bird populations.
“The work TALT is doing goes hand-in-hand with our grassland conservation goals. By providing these grants to organizations like TALT, we are helping to build capacity that will result in more grassland habitat which will greatly increase over time,” PLJV Coordinator Mike Carter said. “This is our third consecutive capacity grant to support land trusts working in Kansas, New Mexico, and now Texas and Oklahoma.”