Federal dollars are igniting a new conservation partnership in northeast Michigan. Huron Pines, a nonprofit organization, recently received $171,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Joint Venture Habitat Restoration and Protection Program (Joint Venture Program). The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding will be used to plant 2 million jack pine seedlings in Kirtland’s warbler management areas, streamline community outreach programs and offer landowners cost-share opportunities. [Photo on the right: A male Kirtland’s warbler, seen during a recent viewing tour near Grayling, sits perched on a jack pine branch. Photo credit: Gene McGarry, Woodstock, NY]
The Joint Venture Program specifically funds projects that use innovative partnerships to complete conservation work in priority bird areas. This project marks a new method of collaboration with the State of Michigan in that Huron Pines, acting as the fiduciary, will provide funds to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offsetting the annual costs of jack pine planting. Michigan Audubon Society (MAS) has a long history of involvement with Kirtland’s warbler education efforts, and will also be a key partner in completing the proposed scope of work. MAS’ experience will be central to increasing awareness and support of the warbler’s incredible story throughout the state and Great Lakes region.
Through its Private Lands Program, Huron Pines will provide landowners living in areas of jack pine ecosystems technical guidance, better planning tools and cost-share opportunities to achieve their individual stewardship goals while blending ecosystem-appropriate strategies.
This strategic partnership falls in line with the goals of the Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative, a program developed to usher the warbler off of the Endangered Species List and into a future of successful, sustained survival. Once delisted, federal funding specifically provided through the Endangered Species Act for Kirtland’s warbler programs will be allocated to the needs of other endangered species.
“Recovery of the Kirtland’s warbler has been rooted in partnership, and this opportunity to work closely with Huron Pines to develop an innovative funding strategy like the Joint Venture proposal demonstrates that continued support for the warbler can be garnered through the Initiative and that nonprofit organizations have the ability to lead the way,” said Russ Mason, DNR Wildlife Division chief.
Joining intensive and dynamic community outreach with on-the-ground restoration efforts rounds out the scope of work and provides built in sustainability for the programs. Commitment from all partners has been underscored by their agreement to provide matching dollars from the value of staff time, travel costs and seedlings to be planted.
“The commitment by DNR and MAS to provide in-kind match means we’ve already increased the investment in northeast Michigan to over $300,000 with this grant award,” said Abigail Ertel, Kirtland’s warbler coordinator for Huron Pines.
Daniel Kennedy, endangered species coordinator with the DNR Wildlife Division, added, “The department understands that management of public lands is a key factor in the quality of life and economy of northeast Michigan and is excited to provide this up-front commitment to the area.”
Huron Pines is a conservation nonprofit working to conserve the forests, lakes and streams of northeast Michigan. With a proven track record of bringing together multiple partners to complete high-impact conservation projects, the organization leveraged investment in the region to over $2 million annually.
Funding for the Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative is made possible through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. For more information on the work Huron Pines is completing as part of these grants or to find out how you can become involved and support the Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative please visit www.kirtlandswarbler.org or call Abigail Ertel at 989-448-2293, ext. 14.
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