California_Central_Valley_Brown_Cannon_III

Working Lands

California Working Lands

A grassland located on a private ranch near the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, CA. Photo: Brown W. Cannon III

The Bottom Line

Conservation impact on 300,000 U.S. acres; improved outcomes for six priority bird species.

California’s Central Valley, one of this world’s most important and productive food-producing areas, offers a good example of the power of Audubon’s partnerships.

Audubon California, through the Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership, is collaborating with The Nature Conservancy and Point Blue Conservation Science to partner with California farmers who grow rice, alfalfa, and other crops to manage their farms in bird-friendly ways that benefit such priority species as the Long-billed Curlew, Sandhill Crane and the Black-necked Stilt. Audubon, Point Blue, and The Nature Conservancy worked closely with the California Rice Commission and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to create and test bird-friendly management practices on farms in the Central Valley of California. Over $15 million has been invested by the Natural Resources Conservation Service over the last five years to support practices on rice farms and other crops on over 100,000 acres to increase the farms’ value to migratory birds.

Another example of the value and importance of partnership is found with the Tricolored Blackbird. This near-endemic to California was once a common bird but its population dropped to 145,000 in 2014, a roughly 40% drop from 2011. Audubon California is partnering with the dairy industry, the Farm Bureau, Natural Resources Conservation Service and other conservation groups to save Tricolored Blackbird colonies at-risk of harvest in agricultural fields including dairies. This effort, paired with important efforts to restore and protect safe natural habitat, are critical for saving one of our last land-based colonial nesters from extinction.

Theory of Victory: Audubon will support, guide, and replicate efforts by farmers and ranchers to modify land management practices on farmland to increase their value for birds and other wildlife.