Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bird Conservation Bill Passes the House

The House of Representatives recently passed the Joint Ventures for Bird Habitat Conservation Act of 2009, which funds projects to protect and restore bird habitat.

Joint ventures are regional partnerships involving federal, state, and local government agencies, corporations, tribes, individuals, and conservation organizations which advance conservation efforts and help identify local land use priorities. There are currently 21 JVs in the United States that provide coordination for conservation planning, and implementing projects to benefit birds and other species. JVs develop science-based goals and strategies, and a non-regulatory approach for achieving conservation.

Maryland is primarily part of the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture (ACJV) which is focused on the conservation of habitat for native birds in the Atlantic Flyway of the United States from Maine south to Puerto Rico. The ACJV partnership has protected 158,000 acres in Maryland, and restored another 98,000 acres. The ACJV helps direct funding for the restoration of Chesapeake Bay such as land acquisition and supports projects to plant aquatic vegetation in the Bay benefitting birds and other wildlife.

The western end of Maryland is part of the recently-created Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture which is working to conserve species such as the Kentucky, Worm-eating, Prairie, and Golden-winged Warblers, Wood Thrush, American Woodcock, and American Black Duck. Nationally, Joint Ventures have directed $4.5 billion in conservation spending from Federal grants and programs, state conservation dollars, and private donations and have protected, restored, or enhanced more than 13 million acres of important habitat for migratory bird species.
The American Bird Conservancy's press release only mentions projects in Maryland, possibly because a congressman from Maryland introduced the bill, but it clearly has a national scope. Hopefully the Senate will follow the House's lead.