Stanley, N.D. — The R6 Ranch in northwest North Dakota, owned by Joe Reum and Ben Waldock, has received a Bird-Friendly Habitat Certification from the National Audubon Society. The Audubon Certified designation touts grassland management efforts on the ranch, notably rotational grazing that employs cows in the creation of diverse bird habitats.
Reum and Waldock enrolled their 3,000-acre working ranch in Audubon Conservation Ranching, a wildlife habitat program working to stabilize declining grassland bird populations in North Dakota and across the U.S. As detailed in the just-released State of the Birds 2022 report, grassland birds are among the fastest-declining bird species in the United States, with a 34% loss since 1970. As an Audubon Certified bird-friendly habitat, Reum is managing the land to provide habitat for Bobolinks, Sharp-tailed Grouse, and Western Meadowlarks – the state bird of North Dakota.
“I enjoy seeing all the wildlife and birds on the ranch,” says Reum, who also teaches the equine and range science programs at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish Community College in nearby New Town. Reum says bird life is indicative of an improving ecosystem, one he is witnessing on his mix of owned and leased land. “Habitat is built on healthier soils with better water infiltration. It all has to work together.”
Pointing to the historical part bison once played on the prairie, Charli Kohler, Range Ecologist with Audubon Dakota, says grasslands have evolved to include grazing as an essential part of their nature. “Different grassland birds have different habitat needs. By dictating cattle movements, we can rotate cows strategically around the land to create a patchwork of habitat to support more species.” Kohler says some birds, like Chestnut-collared Longspurs and Upland Sandpipers, flock to the shorter grasses created when an area undergoes intense grazing and is then left to rejuvenate. Other species, like Grasshopper Sparrows, are more suited to areas of taller cover, or areas void of grazing activity for longer periods.
By meeting all Audubon Conservation Ranching program requirements – which are third-party verified – beef produced on the ranch can carry the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal. This package label recognizes product origin as lands managed for birds and biodiversity.
For more information about Audubon Conservation Ranching in western North Dakota, contact Charli Kohler at (701) 509-7357.
About Audubon Conservation Ranching
A wildlife habitat initiative of the National Audubon Society with a unique market front, Audubon Conservation Ranching’s purpose is to stabilize declining grassland bird populations in partnership with ranchers – on whose land 95 percent of grassland birds live. Audubon Conservation Ranching’s enrollment includes 99 ranches, covering more than 2.7 million acres that have earned status as Audubon Certified Bird-friendly Land. Incentivizing this habitat work for birds and biodiversity are consumers with an appetite for conservation, who support it with the purchase of products grazed on these lands. Shoppers see a special package designation – the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal – that sets these products apart. For more information, visit Audubon.org/ranching.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.