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State of the Birds Report

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Bureau of Land Management

Mission: To sustain the health, diversity,and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

  BLM Lands at a Glance

• The BLM, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages more land than any other federal agency—more than 245 million surface acres, primarily in the West.

• The BLM administers lands essential to a wide variety of birds in habitats including aridlands, grasslands, western wetland/riparian areas, western forests, boreal forests, and arctic tundra.

• In Alaska, the BLM manages 75 million surface acres, including the 23-million acre National Petroleum Reserve on Alaska's north slope and numerous wild and scenic river corridors.

  Image: Clark's Grebe by Brian Sullivan   

Stewardship of Birds

• Of all public agencies, the BLM has the
highest responsibility for Gunnison Sage-Grouse, a species of high conservation concern. BLM-administered lands also support more than 30 percent of the U.S. breeding distribution for nine aridland-breeding species, including Greater Sage-Grouse, Le Conte’s and Sage thrashers, and Sage and Brewer’s sparrows.

• Vast BLM lands in Alaska include more
arctic tundra than any other managing
agency, supporting more than half the U.S. distributions of Steller's and Spectacled eider, Snow Goose, Whiterumped Sandpiper, and Bluethroat.

• The BLM manages grasslands supporting the greatest percentage of the breeding distribution of several species, including Ferruginous Hawk, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, McCown’s Longspur, Mountain Plover, Swainson’s Hawk, Vesper Sparrow, and Western Meadowlark. The BLM also has the highest percentage of the distribution of wintering species including Cassin’s Sparrow, Ferruginous Hawk, McCown’s Longspur, Mountain Plover, and Rough-legged Hawk.

• BLM lands provide critical breeding and wintering habitat for waterfowl, especially western breeding species such as Redhead, Gadwall, and Cinnamon Teal, as well as boreal forest wetland species such as Trumpeter Swan, Bufflehead, and White-winged Scoter.

• BLM lands provide habitat for many wetland species, especially birds that breed in the arid West, including Clark’s and Eared grebe, American Avocet, and White-faced Ibis. Playa lakes, such as the Pariette wetlands in Utah and the Blanca Wetlands in Colorado, support thousands of migratory shorebirds and waterfowl.

Percentage distribution of breeding bird species dependent on each habitat on BLM lands. 

BLM and Bird Conservation

Through its multiple-use mandate, the BLM must address public demands for diverse land uses. The greatest challenge to BLM managers is balancing permitting requests for livestock grazing, mineral exploration, energy development, outdoor recreation, and timber production with wildlife and cultural resource conservation. Optimal conservation requires participation by an informed public throughout the planning process.

Through the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS), the importance of wildlife conservation has increased with special designations such as Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, and Outstanding Natural Areas.

Totaling more than 27 million acres, the NLCS includes more than 10% of occupied Greater Sage-Grouse habitat, high-quality waterfowl habitat in Alaska, some of the highest quality riparian habitat in Arizona and New Mexico, two major California Condor sites in California and Arizona, and 20,000 rocks and small islands along the California coastline inhabited by Brandt’s and Pelagic cormorants, Black Oystercatcher, and other birds. Future designations of other BLM lands for this system should achieve significant bird conservation goals if Important Bird Areas and other key areas are included in the criteria.

Greater Sage-Grouse by Gerrit Vyn
Conservation in Action: Cooperative Efforts for Sage-Grouse and Falcon Recovery

BLM and USFS lands provide most of the publicly owned habitat for Greater Sage-Grouse, a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Many federal and state agencies have begun implementing policy guidelines and initiatives to avoid or mitigate activities harmful to Greater Sage-Grouse throughout their range. These efforts include policy changes regarding energy development, fire management, and private lands programs. State agencies continue to work cooperatively with federal agencies and other partners to delineate core habitat areas, initiate changes to management plans, fund ongoing research, and deliver conservation programs. 

The BLM’s Wyoming and Montana offices, in collaboration with their state fish and wildlife agencies, issued guidance in 2009, including management actions to conserve Greater Sage-Grouse statewide. Other BLM state offices are expected to issue similar guidance soon. These directives may constrain activities that disrupt sage-grouse courtship or nesting, or that affect habitats within and outside core areas. The success of these efforts, measured by increased bird numbers, has yet to be realized, but these actions validate multi-agency, multi-state policy work across more than 30 million acres. 

BLM has played a major role in endangered species recovery of Peregrine Falcons, no longer listed under the Endangered Species Act, and recovery of Aplomado Falcons in partnership with the USFWS and DoD. Land-use plans and activity plans address Peregrine Falcon needs for all BLM lands within nesting territories. Intensive Aplomado Falcon reintroduction and habitat improvement work is ongoing in New Mexico where BLM is a partner. One of the major California Condor reintroduction and recovery sites is on BLM lands in Arizona.



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