Kirtland's Warbler Initiative
“In the discipline of conservation, there is no greater achievement that ‘Recovery’The Kirtland’s warbler is the first bird species to recover as a result of traditional habitat and conservation methods andit offers us a path forward for nearly all endangered species.”
~John Curry, Former Assistant Director, Central Partnership Office, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
The Kirtland’s Warbler is a conservation success story. For over 40 years the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Kirtland’s Warbler Recovery Team and other conservation partners have been committed to the recovery of the species through investments to conduct integrated habitat management and cowbird control programs. These efforts have resulted in the species returning from near extinction to numbers strong enough for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to consider delisting under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Michigan’s Kirtland’s Warbler program is considered a national conservation success story for endangered species management!
Recovery and eventual delisting is the goal of any species protected by the ESA, and the right next step for Kirtland’s Warbler. This transition, however, presents a unique challenge. Kirtland’s Warbler is considered a “conservation reliant” species meaning it needs continued human intervention and action for long-term survival. To successfully transition from recovery to a future of sustained conservation programs and strong population numbers new strategies and partnerships must be put in place to successfully achieve long-term sustainability. The Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative (Initiative) was developed to help with this transition and eventually make delisting a reality.
What is the Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative?
The critical challenge facing Kirtland’s Warbler conservation partners for the last 40 years has been determining what the species needs on the landscape to survive. The critical challenge of the next 40 years is to build the long-term support network necessary to steward investments in the species’ recovery and ensure the Kirtland’s Warbler population remains healthy.
The goal of the Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative (Initiative) is to develop an innovative public-private partnership that will advance delisting of Kirtland’s Warbler and support long-term conservation of the species. The Initiative will reach its goal by following four key strategies:
- Develop a stakeholder group, the Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance, dedicated to increasing visibility and maintaining priority for Kirtland’s Warbler conservation
- Establish a long-term fund to provide supplemental dollars for anticipated funding gaps after delisting
- Finalize the Inter-Agency Kirtland’s Warbler Conservation Plan to provide guidance for habitat management on Kirtland’s Warbler breeding grounds
- Develop a new committee to facilitate coordination of the public and private partners needed to address the continuation of the Kirtland’s Warbler conservation programs
The success of the Initiative – which is partially funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support key strategies 1, 2, and 4 - relies on a broad coalition of partners and has been assembled to bring an array of skills and expertise to the effort. Through clear and coordinated partnership the Kirtland’s Warbler will become the first entirely conservation-reliant animal ushered off the ESA – an accomplishment that has important implications for endangered species science management.
Strong Partnership. Strong Conservation.
The Kirtland’s Warbler is a conservation success story rooted in partnership. For over 40 years the Kirtland’s Warbler conservation community has been committed to the recovery of the species - investing in critical management programs and building a strong framework for cooperation. State, federal and local conservation partners recognized early on that coordinating management strategies would provide the greatest opportunity for species survival. Sharing information and resources exemplified the core principals of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and created a shared sense of ownership of progress and challenge.
This legacy of integrated conservation planning and programming provides the key to a successful transition for the species from recovery to long-term success away from the legislative and financial protections of the ESA. Partnership is at the heart of the Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative.
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Kirtland’s Warbler Recovery Team
Early Support for the Initiative has also been received from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Joint Ventures Program, ITC Holdings Corp., Audubon Society of Kalamazoo, DTE Energy Foundation and Kirtland Products
Huron Pines’ Role
Huron Pines joined the long legacy of Kirtland’s Warbler conservation in 2012. Bringing the organization’s own 40-year history of conserving the forest lakes and streams of Northeast Michigan – the epicenter of Kirtland’s Warbler nesting habitat - Huron Pines is excited to be part of the Initiative. As part of our involvement in this effort Huron Pines is committed to;
- Fostering and working with the Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance – Initiative Key Strategy 1
- Raise significant funds to ensure that habitat management and identified threats such as brown-headed cowbird nest predation continue after delisting – Initiative Key Strategy 2
- Work alongside all Initiative partners and the Alliance to develop a new coordinating committee for facilitation of Kirtland’s Warbler conservation efforts – Initiative Key Strategy 4
- Develop a comprehensive education and outreach program to build local, state, and national support for the Kirtland’s Warbler and its incredible conservation story as well as the jack pine ecosystem upon which it depends
- Work with landowners to expand the multi-species benefits of jack pine forest management on private lands extending both the jack pine and Kirtland’s Warbler range to more closely match historical land cover.
Kirtland’s Warbler Coordinator