Saturday, February 13, 2010

From My Heart the Prairie

It is my pleasure to offer an opportunity to directly impact a local population of a Global Species of Conservation Concern. The Lesser Prairie Chicken (photo by Steve Metz) is an endemic species of North American grouse, and although the species is facing a number of issues, we can create a safer prairie for them to travel in. While we work in other arenas to address the larger issues of habitat loss due to the threat of unregulated energy development, we can positively impact this local population by marking and removing fences that cause such a high mortality rate in the species, particularly in Oklahoma. By impacting this local population through the formerly mentioned actions, we can help to increase overall yearly reproduction. I have mapped and identified 15 miles of fence along the southern portion of the Cimaron Bluffs Wildlife Management Area, a location that was purchased by the ODWC specifically for the Lesser Prairie Chicken. This conservation action, fence marking/removal, is expensive and time consuming. With the support of volunteers and our many partners, we can greatly impact a location in just a few hours; whereas it may take a team of two field technicians as many as 6-7 days to complete, along with thousands of man hour dollars.

Not only is this a way for the birding community to impact this population of threatened birds, it can also stand to show the state legislatures and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation that we are willing to support the birds we all love so much and show we care about what is happening in the western portion of this great state. It is time to realise that this species needs our help; the scientists, Oklahoma Gas and Electric and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have been doing thier jobs to the best of their ability. They are purchasing lands, they are developing maps and tools for developers and they are talking with landowners. This issue can not be solved by sitting back and hoping that their efforts will solve all of the Lesser Prairie Chickens' problems. We need to show them that we care, that we can help, that we can take the time out of our busy lives, drive east, west, north or south and spend a weekend devoting ourselves to this issue. It doesn't have to end with the fifteen miles; that is merely my meager goal for this event. If you show me that we can go further, I will provide the necessary materials to make it happen on those days.

Please accept this invitation! I can promise you a few things if you join me the weekend of March 6th and 7th. I can promise you some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Oklahoma. I can promise you a time of shared goodwill; knowing that we are all there to give with our open hearts. I can promise you birds, not sure which ones but I can promise they will be there. We spend our time counting, listing and sharing with each other the beauty of these wondrous creatures that fill us with pride, joy, and over all well being; we willingly take from the birds in that way. It is now time to give . We cannot wait any longer, this bird represents an endangered ecosystem and as we sit and watch the battles back and forth, we show that we are willing to say good bye. I am not willing, my heart burns with passion for this species. They represent a historical connection for this land's Native American roots, this species represents America in all of its individuality.The Lesser Prairie Chicken does not exist outside of the continental United States. It represents what is left of the great prairie ocean, and when standing on a hilltop in the early spring with the smell of sandsage in the air you can hear the echos of the past through these birds.

Not so many years ago, I was placed in the leadership role of Coordinator for the Oklahoma Important Bird Areas program. You have seen my passion, sometimes the bite that it carries, but I am here standing and I need you to stand beside me. This issue will not disappear, but we can stand together and make an impact.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in details for this event. or
Eric Beck
State Coordinator
Oklahoma Important Bird Areas Program


TR Ryan said...

I'm in!

Julie Zickefoose said...

What a lovely post. Wishing Ohio were not so very far from Oklahoma, and smiling to see T.R here, taking the initiative. Wishing you a great crowd of doers.

John Rakestraw said...

Wish I could be there. Lesser PCs are dear to my heart, and I have a great fear that I will outlive this species. I am grateful for all the encounters I have had with these birds. Thank you for your work on their behalf.