Conservation Accomplishments in 2015

Our conservation efforts involved cooperating with a land trust and the City of Missoula. This included two projects on private land in the Clark Fork River–Grass Valley IBA and three projects on private lands not currently in an IBA:

  1. Ranch in Flint Creek Valley. We conducted two bird surveys to help Five Valleys Land Trust (FVLT) document the wildlife resources on a 4,000 acre ranch property. Results were included in a grant proposal to NRCS for funding a conservation easement. Habitat consisted of native prairie grassland and conifer forest dissected by a broad stream riparian area and interspersed with areas of mountain grasslands. The threat was development and fragmentation of habitats. Five Valleys Audubon (FVA) documented a strong breeding population of Long-billed Curlews and a high diversity of migrant songbirds occurring on the working ranch. As a result the NRCS approved a $900,000 grant to purchase a conservation easement. They commented that this was the best grant proposal they had received in Montana due partly to the bird survey findings.
  1. Potomac Valley Ranch. We conducted a bird survey on 140 acres of the Union Creek riparian area and adjoining wet meadow grasslands. A strong breeding population of Bobolinks was a key finding. Results of the survey were used by FVLT in a request to Missoula County for funding from the Open Space Bond Fund to purchase a conservation easement. FVA also pledged $1,000 toward purchase of the easement to show support for the importance of habitat for birds.
  1. Pattee Canyon South Hills Spur. We conducted two bird surveys to document the bird resource on a slope partly forested and partly a mixed shrub-grassland leading to a vista of the entire Missoula Valley. Results were used by FVLT to secure approval from the City of Missoula for purchase of 120 acres and a conservation easement on another 40 acres with an easement for public access to the 120 acres. The City approved this and  will purchase the 120 acres from FVLT and make the area available to the public for hiking.
  1. Clark Fork River–Grass Valley IBA. We conducted a bird survey on an island and on both sides of the Clark Fork River to document the bird resource for the City Open Space Manager to use in making a case for purchase of the property. Our findings included several species of conservation concern known to occur in the IBA. The City Council members and County Commissioners approved shared funding from the City and County Open Space Bond Funds to purchase the property for public benefit. FVA testified at a public hearing for the importance of the bird resource on this property, which will become available for the public to enjoy.
  1. Grass Valley in the IBA. FVA approved spending $5,000 toward purchase of a conservation easement by FVLT on a marsh and stream wetland within the IBA. We believed this kind of support was necessary to convince other funding sources that this was an important conservation opportunity. We have conducted bird surveys on this property for several years to show its importance.

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