Update to North American waterfowl plan begins

Bemidji, Minn. – A revision won’t take place for another two
years, but changes are on the horizon for one of the plans that
guides waterfowl management.

Discussions have begun about revisions to the North American
Waterfowl Management Plan, which was adopted in 1986 as an
international plan to restore waterfowl populations by protecting,
restoring, and enhancing habitat.

“I don’t think a lot of people probably know much about it, but
it’s probably as important as anything, certainly since it came
out, that’s been done,” said Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist for
the DNR.

One of the primary functions of the plan was the creation of
“joint ventures” that involve a number of parties – from state and
federal governments to conservation groups and individual citizens
– and are charged with implementing the portions of the plan that
deal with their focus areas.

“The North American model has certainly been one of the, or
arguably the most, successful partnerships between different levels
of government, private organizations, landowners, and other
interested parties to coordinate closely to share resources and to
get habitat on the ground,” said Ryan Heiniger, Ducks Unlimited’s
director of conservation programs for Minnesota and Iowa.

Cordts, who serves on the NAWMP Science Support Team through his
involvement with the Mississippi Flyway, expects the flyway to
discuss the plan at its meetings this summer and winter.

He said it’s still early, but that this could prove to be an
important update to the plan. Updates traditionally occur every 5
or 6 years.

While the plan traditionally has focused on waterfowl habitat –
and harvest management has been a separate entity – there has been
increasing talk of linking the two, including at a summit – The
Future of Waterfowl Management Workshop – that was held last summer
in Minneapolis.

Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service currently is in
the process of completing an Environmental Impact Statement that
deals with sport hunting of migratory birds, and its timeline is
similar to that of the NAWMP update, Cordts said.

A document from the NAWMP update steering committee said this:
“For the most part, managers have approached waterfowl conservation
in an increasingly specialized manner, which has led in many
instances to fragmented consideration for harvest, habitat, and
hunters. Specific advancements in each of these arenas during the
past decade have illustrated the relationships among these
segments. More explicit linkages among habitat, harvest, and human
dimension goals can lead to more effective management of waterfowl
and wetland resources in the future.”

Most summit participants, according to the document, “agreed
that we should continue down the path toward integration of
harvest, habitat and human dimensions. Specifically, participants
agreed that the next plan update was the appropriate venue for
developing more coherent goals for waterfowl harvest and habitat
management.”

The update process presents a good opportunity to make sure the
plan addresses the conservation challenges as they currently exist,
according to John Devney, senior vice president of Delta
Waterfowl.

He expects some of the update discussions to deal with CRP.

“My guess is that under the previous plan, guys felt pretty
comfortable about the future of CRP,” he said. “My guess is there
will be new concern about how well received CRP will be, and what
other mechanisms there are to protect grass in the Dakotas, for
example.”

One of the reasons the Dakotas have exceeded their NAWMP
waterfowl population goals is the presence of good agriculture
policy, Devney said.

One of his desires for the current NAWMP update: “That getting
more money to the breeding grounds is the A, number one
objective.”

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