July 27, 2022
In response to today’s introduction of the North American Grasslands Conservation Act (NAGCA) by Sen. Ron Wyden (D. OR.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN.), and Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-CO.), Bird Conservancy of the Rockies issued the following statement from Tammy VerCauteren, Executive Director:
“Resilient, productive grasslands are vital for clean air and water, food security, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation and the future of our urban and rural communities. Private landowners, Indigenous leaders and partners across the country are working hard to conserve our grasslands but our disparate efforts have not changed the downward trajectory of this disappearing landscape. The bipartisan North American Grasslands Conservation Act represents an opportunity to voluntarily reverse those trends, to help catalyze funding that supports a grass-based economy delivering critical resources where they are needed most. We strongly encourage our elected representatives to ratify this bill at the earliest possible time so that we can put those resources to work restoring, conserving and enhancing our North American grasslands for the diverse human communities and wildlife that depend upon them.”
An average of two million acres of grassland are lost each year to development, agricultural conversion, and many other land uses. Closely tied to the fate of grasslands are many plant and animal species, including grassland birds. Across North America, scientists estimate we have lost approximately three billion birds in the past 50 years, with a quarter of those being grassland species. The cultural heritage of those that tend the land and call it home—from ranchers to Indigenous Peoples to ejidos—is also closely tied to the fate of grasslands. Rural communities and economies depend on healthy grasslands and the services they provide which include aquifer recharge, fire and drought resilience, productive rangelands, outdoor recreation and more. A bonus to conserving grasslands is the latest research indicating that grasslands play a key role in carbon sequestration, essential to reducing the effects of climate change.
Bird Conservancy’s endorsement of the NAGCA represents a continuation of our ongoing focus on grasslands conservation for the benefit of people and birds. In addition to our core avian research, monitoring and habitat conservation work, this commitment is manifested through our engagement with the Central Grasslands Roadmap, a collaborative initiative to increase conservation of North America’s Central Grasslands, which span 600+ million acres across Sovereign Indigenous Lands, Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Those who wish to express their support for NAGCA are encouraged to contact their elected representatives to express their views. They can also visit the NAGCA website to show support and take action.
Follow #ActForGrasslands on social media for the latest news and updates.