Future Opportunity: Multi-agency Cooperative Programs to Address Wildlife Management in Changing Oak Forests

Multi-agency cooperative approaches have proven to be an effective, pragmatic, and often necessary means of achieving landscape-level wildlife conservation goals. The most compelling and historic examples involve bird conservation initiatives. Wildlife conservation agencies have collaborated in addressing broad scale population and habitat challenges. These collaborations began with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the advent of the Flyway management system. Efforts have increased with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and the development of Joint Ventures and more recently with Partners in Flight and associated bird conservation initiatives. The challenges associated with sustaining eastern oak ecosystems are somewhat different than bird conservation issues because there is no focal species group, the problem is insidious, and existing management of private lands represent a major source of the problem. However, the establishment of a scientific basis for the decline in oak ecosystems and the implications for wildlife conservation can provide a foundation for comparable efforts. Potential approaches range from incorporating oak conservation within existing bird habitat joint ventures to development of a multi-agency/organization plan focused on oak conservation. Examples of regional, science-based, cooperative initiatives that have successfully focused funding from a variety of entities and programs towards specific conservation efforts will be used to illustrate how similar resources could be mustered to sustain oak ecosystems. The Atlantic Coast Joint Venture (ACJV) is a geographic-based effort that identifies and prioritizes migratory bird habitat protection. ACJV focuses funding from sources such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, and others. The Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is an example of a geographic-based habitat recovery effort focused on a single species. NBCI has developed a plan for quail population recovery that has population and habitat objectives. Funding and implementation is a partner-driven effort, utilizing existing mechanisms such as Partners in Flight, Farm Bill funding, and collaboration with private landowners. The Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has developed a multi-state effort to identify and prioritize regional conservation actions identified in State Wildlife Action Plans. This collaborative effort includes all states in the northeast as well as conservation partners. Funding from the Doris Duke Foundation, State Wildlife Grants, and other sources will be used to implement these priority projects.

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