Diane Ross-Leech, Director of Environmental Policy, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Glenn Olson, Donal O'Brien Chair in Bird Conservation and Public Policy, National Audubon Society
Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the National Audubon Society presented highlights of Joint Ventures, a collaborative conservation model that has successfully recovered continental waterfowl populations, brings together stakeholders from all sectors, and maximizes effectiveness of federal funding.
Facing dramatic declines in waterfowl populations, Canada, the United States, and Mexico agreed to the North American Waterfowl Plan, which seeks to arrest the loss of wetlands and secure refuges for migratory birds. Ronald Reagan signed the continental treaty which set the path for the ensuing bill.
Migratory Bird Joint Ventures were established following passage of the 1989 North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). The law states that “maintaining healthy populations of migratory birds in North America depends on the protection, restoration and management of wetland ecosystems and their adjacent associated uplands in Canada, the United States and Mexico.”
Over the past 25 years, Joint Venture partnerships have leveraged every dollar of Congressional funds at a 35:1 ratio, helping to conserve more than 25 million acres of wetlands, and associated adjacent uplands have been restored and conserved for migratory birds in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
The authors of the North American Water Fowl Management Plan, which called for Joint Ventures, were inspired by the belief that conserving native bird species requires harnessing the power of partnerships: sharing resources, energy, and expertise to maximize impact. Joint Ventures' national model for partnership-driven conservation has created coalitions of federal, state, and regional regulatory agencies; environmental non-governmental organizations; landowners; and businesses, which leverage technical and financial resources to achieve conservation at a meaningful scale.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that NAWCA grants and Joint Venture funding support nearly 7,500 jobs annually. Project implementation directly benefits the construction industry, which restores habitats; wildlife biologists, who assess restoration requirements and efforts; engineers, who perform topographic surveys and plan, permit, and engineer the design for restoration projects; and local businesses, which sell supplies and materials used in the projects.
The success of Joint Ventures is pronounced in the relative population trends of specific bird groups. Over the past 40 years, wetland birds are the only group of bird species with improved population status, having trended in a positive direction for the past 25 years.
The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, which seeks to protect 340 species of birds, takes this model to a hemispheric scale. The U.S. Congress passed the Act with a 3:1 matching requirement, but the $30 million in federal funds has been leveraged by $134 million in partner funds - greater than a 4:1 match.
Both the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Development Bank have recognized the international importance of migratory birds and efforts to conserve them, and have called for future development to avoid negative impact on significant sites for bird breeding, wintering and resting, and re-fueling during migration.
» National Audobon Society: Download Glenn Olson's presentation
» U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Migratory Bird Joint Ventures: 1987-2012
» Video: North American Migratory Bird Joint Ventures: 25 Years (Salazar Intro)
» House Committee on Natural Resources: Glenn Olson's Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs
» National Audubon Society: Conservation Success Stories