Wednesday, October 10, 2012

USFWS/landowner partnership preserving South Platte



Colorado 71 crosses the South Platte a few miles southwest of Willard and just north of Brush: a Borg tendril intersecting a threatened ribbon of green.
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) program was officially established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1987. A group of Service biologists and numerous conservation partners had the vision to look beyond the boundaries of government fee-title holdings and see the need to work cooperatively with private landowners. They recognized that nearly 73 percent of U.S. lands are in private ownership and a vast majority of federal trust species used these areas during their life cycle. Intense stakeholder outreach concluded that the most effective way to achieve conservation success was to provide direct financial and technical assistance. --Matthew Filsinger and Joe Milmoe, USFWS
Lifted this morning from a release of the USFWS Office of External Affairs:
Although the science behind groundwater recharge is complex, the concept is relatively simple. Place water in wetlands at a predetermined distance from the river and when the water seeps into the ground, it will follow underground geological paths, providing base flows back to the river system. On the South Platte, this water supports a number of human users, as well as a variety of threatened and endangered species, including: whooping crane, interior least tern, piping plover, and pallid sturgeon.

PFW has been able to assist in designing the wetlands, resulting in numerous gains for wildlife along the South Platte. The program has accomplished this by developing a technique to distribute the water in a functional manner, resulting in a wetland with a large surface area and shallow depth. By keeping the depth at two feet or less, it has become a great draw for a suite of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds. 
Species richness and diversity numbers are relatively high and attest to the productivity of the design techniques implemented by PFW. Together with numerous landowners and irrigation companies like the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (PRRIP), the PFW program is leading the way for species recovery.
Whether it likes it or not, South Dakota and its wildlife killing game management arm is in this partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, too. Yes, the state is bound to help support critical habitat.

Even some private landowners believe cooperation beats the hell out of litigation.

Scott Faver of the Environmental Working Group writes in The Hill:
While the middle class incomes are falling, net farm income has exploded – from $85 billion in 2008 to $122 billion in 2012. Median farm household income increased by 5.4 percent in 2011 and is expected to increase again this year. The income of the largest farms increased by nearly 8 percent in 2011 and is expected to soar again by year’s end.
Hmmm. Subsidies tied to environmental protection and habitat preservation: what a concept.

1 comment:

larry kurtz said...

Update on lower Platte riparian restoration: USFWS.