The BP oil spill has been at the top of the news for months now as the company continues its efforts to stop the flow and clean up the oily mess that is drifting onto our Southern shores. I witnessed some of the damage myself last week during a trip to the Gulf Coast.
The massive oil spill has touched the lives of many people and threatened all types of wildlife. Let’s talk about birds, specifically, for a moment. An NRCS initiative and a Field Sampling For Waterfowl Food project aimed at migratory birds as well as birds native to the rice-growing areas have been launched and rice farmers, as well as other farmers, ranchers and landowners, are being invited to participate.
Following is information about the NRCS’s Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative and below that information is a letter from Dr. Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter about the study (Sampling of Fields for Waterfowl Food Sources) that Louisiana is collaborating on with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan–Gulf Coast Joint Venture and Mississippi State University (MSU).
Please take the time to read about both of these very important endeavors and help out in any way you can. Our beautiful North American birds are depending on you.
Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is adversely affecting the marshes and coastlands used by shorebirds, waterfowl, and other birds that will soon be traveling through the area on their annual migration south. Under a new Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative, USDA will work with farmers, ranchers and other landowners to manage portions of their land to enhance habitat for migrating birds. The initiative includes portions of eight States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas.
Summary of the Initiative
NRCS will improve habitat conditions and food sources for migratory birds likely to be impacted by the conditions in the Gulf of Mexico. This initiative will be delivered through two components: one component will be available on private agricultural lands and the second on Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) easement lands. NRCS will be working in cooperation with private landowners and other partners to establish habitat and food sources as well as improve the overall habitat management on participating lands. Read the entire summary
Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program Map
Wetlands Reserve Program Map
Priority Birds Species Lists
Essential NRCS Conservation Practice Standards
Justification for Habitat Priority Areas
NRCS State Contacts List
National and Partner Migratory Bird Experts List
Sampling of Fields for Waterfowl Food Sources
The LSU AgCenter is cooperating with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan–Gulf Coast Joint Venture and Mississippi State University (MSU) in a study to estimate abundance of waste rice and natural seeds in rice production and idled rice fields in the coastal prairie regions of Louisiana and Texas. Rice and other agricultural lands provide important foods and resting areas for waterfowl and other birds in these regions. Given declines in coastal wetlands and recent catastrophes from hurricanes and the oil spill, your agricultural lands are increasingly important as critical habitat for ducks, geese, and other birds.
The goal is to obtain soil core samples from harvested rice and idled rice fields in both states. A soil core is simply a plug of soil about 4 inches in both diameter and depth. The soil cores are used to determine the amount of rice and natural seeds left in fields following harvest. This information is used to estimate potential food abundance for waterfowl in rice fields, which will help identify and recommend waterfowl habitat management practices that are beneficial to both birds and agricultural producers.
The plan is to sample production and idled rice fields following first harvest (August) and again following completion of the second crop harvest (November – December). The sampling will cause no negative impacts to your property, farming operations, or equipment. Simply, two student researchers will manually extract 10 or so core samples from 1-2 of your fields. The time on your property should not exceed 2-3 hours per sampling trip.
Within the next couple of weeks, rice producers in coastal Louisiana and Texas will be contacted to request cooperation in this study. In the meantime, if you would like to volunteer your fields for inclusion in this study, or if you have questions about this study, please feel free to email or call Dr. Brian Davis firstname.lastname@example.org (662-325-4790). Your cooperation in this study would be greatly appreciated.