Northern Research Station News Releases
- Jane Hodgins651-304-7607
Public Forests and U.S. Forest Service Research Important to Birds
St. Paul, MN, May 5, 2011 - Public forests are critical to the long-term health of bird populations and the recovery of endangered species, according to the 2011 State of the Birds Report, released Tuesday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But in addition to managing critical habitat, the U.S. Forest Service conducts research critical to bird conservation efforts across all ownerships.
“Our research crosses all ownerships,” said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Northern Research Station. “We provide science-based information that gives people the tools they need to make sound land management decisions on America's public and private lands – from the national forests and national wildlife refuges to state conservation areas, privately owned forests, and city parks and boulevards.”
Research that benefits birds has been a long-time focus for Northern Research Station scientist Frank Thompson, Columbia, Mo., who contributed to the 2011 State of the Birds report.
In 2009, Thompson and other Northern Research Station scientists developed Habitat Suitability Index models that assess habitat quality for 40 priority bird species in the Central Hardwoods and West Gulf Coastal Plain/Ouachitas Bird Conservation Regions. The models help land managers translate target population numbers for specific species into concrete habitat goals that can guide on the ground conservation activities. The same investigators are now developing methods for assessing species viability. Other studies have looked at the potential effects of climate change, invasions by exotic pants, fire, and the success of birds in urban environments.
“The State of the Birds Report is partly motivated by our appreciation of birds as indicator species that tell us about the health of the environment, but I don’t think that is the prime motivation,” according to Thompson. “It’s also a reflection of how much people care about birds.”
Thompson’s work is just one example of how Forest Service research benefits bird conservation. In addition, the Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis program tracks changes in the nation’s forests, and the U.S. Forest Service International Programs’ Wings Across The Americas program provides critical coordination and assistance for international conservation of migratory birds that depend on lands outside the U.S. for part of the year.
Nearly 850 million acres of land and 3.5 million square miles of ocean are publicly owned, including thousands of state parks, 1,600 marine protected areas, 550 national wildlife refuges, 155 national forests, and 60 national parks. These areas support the vast majority of the nation’s native bird species, many of which are declining and facing numerous environmental challenges that have been described in previous State of the Birds reports.
There are more than 800 bird species in the U.S., 251 of which are federally listed as threatened, endangered, or of conservation concern. More than 300 bird species have 50 percent or more of their U.S. distribution on public lands and waters, making public agencies a major influence on the success of conservation. By effectively managing these important habitats, agencies can help restore declining species and keep common birds common.
The U.S. Forest Service administers 155 National Forests, 20 National Grasslands, and 82 Experimental Forests covering more than 193 million acres of public land. Management is guided by research and development in 5 research stations with numerous field locations.
More information on the 2011 State of the Birds Report is available at: http://www.stateofthebirds.org/
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. The mission of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.
The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The mission of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.
The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/.
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