Somerset county SWCD Ag Allies looking to collaborate on grassland bird habitat management

Meadowlark. Photo by Kshanti Greene.

Have grassland habitat in your conservation portfolio?  Want to see more birds enjoying nesting success on your lands?  Maine’s Ag Allies Program in partnership with Cornell Lab of Ornithology is here to assist. 

Not only can you enjoy more birds at your property, but Maine land trusts have an opportunity to be part of a critical conservation effort.  Recent research published by the journal Science shows that there is a net population loss of almost 3 billion birds across all bird species in the continental US and Canada since 1970.  Habitat loss appears to be a driving factor in these widespread declines, particularly agricultural intensification and development.  Grassland birds alone have declined by 53%.   

Recently featured in the LTA’s Saving Land magazine article “3 Billion Birds Gone: Land Trusts can help curb declines” (https://www.lta.org/news/3-billion-birds-gone), Ag Allies is a statewide program hosted by Somerset County SWCD that works with land trusts statewide to increase the nesting success of grassland birds through incentive payments, technical assistance, outreach and education. The program empowers land trusts to make sustainable bird-friendly management changes on their land and improve the opportunity for nesting success of grassland birds in Maine.

The District began working with land trusts early on in our Ag Allies program, including Georges River Land Trust and the Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust (then the Damariscotta River Association).  After working with us in 2017, DRA partnered with the District for a successful 2018 Cornell Lab of Ornithology Land Trust Initiative grant.  This spring, Cornell asked the District to enter into a formal collaboration, providing the opportunity to expand Ag Allies’ work with Maine’s land trusts.

To that end, this summer, Ag Allies will select an interested land trust to work on a field refurbishment demonstration project. This will include funding for lime, fertilizer and possible re-seeding of a field for grassland bird habitat.  The work will take place next field season (2021) and will include hosting a grassland management workshop with Laura Suomi-Lecker, Ag Allies program manager and Sara Barker, Leader of Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Land Trust Initiative

For this year, we also have habitat signs!  Many land trust personnel expressed an interest in the signs last year, but we ran out of time to deliver on all requests.  We now also have materials available to install the signs at land trust properties.  Please contact the District if you are interested. [Photo of our habitat sign] 

Laura Suomi-Lecker, Technical Director
Somerset SWCD
207-474-8323 x 4