The Sonoran Joint Venture
and Arizona Game & Fish Department
The vast diversity of birds and habitats in the Sonoran Joint Venture (SJV) region calls for an equally impressive team of partners working towards conservation and management. In the southwestern United States, there are large expanses of public land. This means that federal and state land management agencies play a key role in managing these areas. However, making management decisions that benefit a range of habitats and species, not just birds, can be daunting. How do you take in all the available knowledge and resources available, especially if you aren’t a bird biologist? How can we make it easier to put birds in the equation?
To address this challenge in Arizona, the SJV, Bureau of Land Management Arizona State Office (BLM), and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) funded and developed a new tool. Inspired by Great Basin Bird Observatory’s (GBBO) species and habitat accounts for Nevada, the team worked with GBBO and many partner biologists through the Arizona Bird Conservation Initiative to develop a set of species and habitat accounts for Arizona.
Our goal was to provide an easy-to-use resource for agency biologists, land managers, and others who deal with everyday decisions that affect birds and their habitats, but who may or may not be bird experts. By providing a concise look at the best available science, our Species Accounts can save time and energy while encouraging land managers to consider and promote bird conservation in harmony with other management goals and decisions. Our bird Species Accounts include a snapshot of conservation status and basic natural history requirements, information about threats, and a concise list of recommended activities for addressing key threats. Each account contains a quick reference image and a map that shows the predicted distribution in Arizona. We created accounts for 37 species, which includes both priority species for conservation, as well as birds’ representative of specific habitats. We divided the accounts into 11 primary habitats. In the future, we plan to add to the list of species, as well as add accounts for the priority habitats. The accounts are free to download and use.
The BLM manages 12.2 million acres of public land within Arizona, so with the agency’s continued support, we are planning a series of Land Manager workshops in 2021. These will target BLM land managers, as well as managers from other federal and state agencies and NGO partners. In addition to learning how to use the Species Accounts to improve management decisions and activities, we will provide training on a variety of different decision support tools, promoting their use and highlighting their different applications. The goal is to provide workshop participants with a new and updated set of tools to help them consider birds and their habitats when undertaking land management activities.
Also planned for the workshop are tools driven by AZGFD’s robust Coordinated Bird Monitoring Program, which implements long-term (for status and trends) and short-term (for specific research and management questions) monitoring projects of Arizona’s birds. The BLM has been a key funding partner, supporting breeding bird surveys in riparian, Sonoran Desert, and grassland habitats. With BLM support, the Coordinated Bird Monitoring Program is also conducting surveys for desert thrashers and Pinyon Jay. These surveys generate critical information that supports bird habitat management, assists in environmental reviews, and aids in the implementation of landscape-level, multi-species conservation of public lands, including those managed by BLM.
If you have questions, want to discuss management options, or are interested in attending a workshop, please contact SJV Science Coordinator, Adam Hannuksela.