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Robert Harwood/Audubon Photography Awards

Innovative bill would promote regenerative ranching in California

National Audubon is working to promote land management that benefits farmers, ranchers, and wildlife, and that slows down climate change. How might your land trust work to support farming and ranching, as well as climate reduction practices? Has your state considered something like this?

The program would encourage regenerative agricultural practices similar to those promoted by Audubon’s Conservation Ranching initiative (ACR). The program partners with ranchers to adopt techniques including rotation of pastureland and limited use of feeds other than grass itself. The practices allow a variety of native grasses, with their extensive root systems (a potent carbon sink), to grow and thrive by allowing grasslands to rest and recover.

That, in turn, provides habitat for imperiled grassland birds, whose numbers have declined by 50 percent over the past 100 years. In return, ranchers participating in ACR can brand their meat with Audubon’s “Grazed on bird-friendly land” seal, earning up to $2 per pound more for their premium, grass-fed products…

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Loggerhead Shrike
Roger Baker/Audubon

Protocols for bird-friendly habitat management certification

National Audubon is working to promote land management that benefits farmers, ranchers, and wildlife, and that slows down climate change. How might your land trust work to support farming and ranching, as well as climate reduction practices? Has your state considered something like this?

Audubon and its partner ranchers employ a variety of tactics to manage the land upon which cows graze. Together, these tactics are what leads to Audubon’s certification that certain beef products are produced with bird-friendly land-management practices

To get certification, ranchers follow a set of program standards in four areas: habitat management; forage and feeding; animal health and welfare; and environmental sustainability…

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Upland Sandpiper
Lucy Britton/Audubon Dakota

What in the world is conservation ranching?

National Audubon is working to promote land management that benefits farmers, ranchers, and wildlife, and that slows down climate change. How might your land trust work to support farming and ranching, as well as climate reduction practices? Has your state considered something like this?

“Wild bison were unwitting conservationists. As they roved the Great Plains, snacking here, trampling there, the hefty mammal carved diverse plant landscapes for any species’ nesting, mating, or hunting requirements. When humans substituted these shaggy ungulates for cows, the territory transformed. Without guidance, cattle mow fields to a single height and encourage only a couple plants to rebound. Few birds thrive in this monotony…”

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Desert Trees

Report: Exposure to climate change drives stability or collapse of desert mammal and bird communities

Birds are facing conditions that exceed their physiological limits, according to this new research published in Science.

“Understanding how our warming climate affects vulnerable species is of paramount importance. However, predicting responses is complicated because species are complex and may adapt or respond in distinct ways…”

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Cactus Wren
Gaetan Dupont/Audubon Photography Awards

How desert birds can survive with very little water

This brief and interesting audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide. It might be fun to check it out.

In the desert Southwest, summer temperatures sizzle, rising well over 100 degrees. And in some parts of the desert, there is not a drop of water for miles.

Yet some birds thrive in this scorching landscape. Here a Black-throated Sparrow sings from a thorn scrub. Now, a Cactus Wren announces itself atop a barrel cactus. And neither will be flying miles every day to the nearest source of water. So how do they survive?

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Desert Bird
Natural History Archive/Alamy

How climate change pushes even the hardiest desert birds past their limit

Many think that birds can adapt to climate change. Growing research shows this is not the case. Given how many people care about birds, this is a good way to connect with folks to address climate solutions—including getting off fossil fuels (the use of which is the driver of climate change).

The Mojave Desert, like many deserts across the world, is getting hotter and drier. Over the last century, it’s warmed by about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), and its already sparse rainfall has declined by 20 percent in some areas. Even before modern climate change, the Mojave’s birds lived at extremes; many desert birds have evolved special drought adaptations to save water. Now they’re facing conditions that exceed their physiological limits, according to new research published in Science.

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Golden Grasses
Climate Action Reserve

The Climate Action Reserve

“As the premier carbon offset registry for the North American carbon market, the Climate Action Reserve encourages action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by ensuring the environmental integrity and financial benefit of emissions reduction projects.

The Reserve establishes high quality standards for carbon offset projects, oversees independent third-party verification bodies, issues carbon credits generated from such projects and tracks the transaction of credits over time in a transparent, publicly-accessible system.

The Reserve offsets program demonstrates that high-quality carbon offsets foster real reductions in GHG pollution, support activities that reduce local air pollution, spur growth in new green technologies and allow emission reduction goals to be met at lower cost…”

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Southern Plains

Carbon offset program

This three-person accredited land trust works to preserve the shortgrass prairie ecosystems of the southern Great Plains.

Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT) has enrolled [their] two largest preserves, Raven’s Nest Nature Preserve and Heartland Ranch, under the Climate Action Reserve’s Grassland Protocol. These properties sequester over 10,000 metric tonnes of carbon annually. Sale of these carbon credits creates the ultimate feedback loop: carbon sales generate revenue for SPLT to protect more grasslands, which sequester more carbon and provide refuges for more wildlife.

This is exemplified by SPLT’s partnership with NativeEnergy: a forward sale of carbon credits on the Medford Spring Grassland Conservation area enabled SPLT to add this area to Heartland Ranch, thus increasing the size of this property from 18,000 acres to its current size of 25,000 acres…

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Elk In The Mountains
Reuters, Jim Yurquhart

Wildlife diseases poised to spread northwards as climate changes: study

As the world’s climate warms, parasite-carried wildlife diseases will move north, with animals in cold far-north and high-altitude regions expected to suffer the most dramatic increases, warns a study to be published…in the journal Science.

The study projects increasing spread over the next five decades of wildlife diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, and infectious worms. There are serious implications for humans, said co-author Jason Rohr of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana…

If warming is slowed, however, there will be “much, much smaller increases in infectious disease in wildlife,” Rohr said…

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Solar And Flowers
Center for Pollinators in Energy

Purdue entomologist, green groups laud solar farm for native ground cover plan

Local efforts can make or break compatible renewable projects: Riverstart Solar Park, first announced in 2018, would include 670,000 photovoltaic solar panels on 1,400 acres in southwest Randolph County and produce enough energy to power about 37,000 households—the largest such project in the state. The company was waiting for the ordinance to be enacted before starting construction.

Julie Borgmann, director of Muncie-based Red-tail Land Conservancy, spoke in favor of the pollinator-friendly provisions at several meetings of county government and also collaborated with the other supporters, including the Hoosier Environmental Council.

In an interview, she noted that, while it’s taken her land trust two decades to protect 2,700 acres of land in East Central Indiana, “this single solar farm” can “really have a huge impact on habitat for bugs, birds…and it goes on down the (ecosystem) line.”

Brock Harpur, an assistant professor of entomology at Purdue, called the new ordinance “a massive step forward for pollinator conservation in this state”…

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