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E-M:/ DNR Receives Wings Across the Americas Award

Enviro-Mich message from "Richard Morscheck" <morscher@michigan.gov>

Contact: Mary Dettloff, 517-335-3014
DNR Receives Wings Across the Americas Award
Award recognizes Kirtland's warbler research and training program
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources received a 2005 Wings Across the Americas Award in the research and management partnership category from the U.S. Forest Service at the June 2 meeting of the Natural Resources Commission. The award was presented to DNR Director Rebecca Humphries by Rex Ennis, forest wildlife biologist, and Jerry Bird, deputy forest supervisor, representing the Huron-Manistee National Forests.

The award recognizes the partnership between the Forest Service and the DNR in managing the Kirtland's warbler, a federally endangered neotropical migratory songbird that is one of the rarest birds in the world. Kirtland's warblers breed and nest almost exclusively among the jack pine forests of northern Michigan.

"The Kirtland's warbler research and training program is an outstanding example of a partnership that is pioneering bird conservation by addressing all the conservation needs of this endangered species throughout its range in the Bahamas and the United States," Ennis said. "This partnership involves the collaboration of scientists, land managers, governments, conservation organizations, communities, students and educators across international boundaries."

Wings Across the Americas was created by the Forest Service to help expand and recognize national and international bird conservation partnerships.

Humphries said the department is honored by the award, and very pleased to see the growing interest of the Bahamian government in establishing new research and training programs in the Bahamas where the Kirtland's warbler spends nine months of the year.

"Research shows about 70 percent of the warbler adults that fly to the Bahamas return each spring, but only about 35 percent of the juveniles make it." Humphries said. "The increased international cooperation and effort to protect this bird in its summer, fall and wintering habitats should continue to advance the recovery of this unique species."

During his presentation to the NRC, Ennis noted one of the goals of the Wings Across the Americas program is to promote greater public awareness of the national and international needs of priority bird species and their habitats. According to Ennis:

*Birds are excellent indicators of the health of some ecosystems.

*Bird-related activities create jobs, enrich communities and sustain cultures. Millions of Americans love birds and participate in bird photography, watching and study. Nature-based tourism is the fastest growing type of tourism in America. More than 46 million citizens participate in birding, generating over $32 billion in annual retail sales and $13 billion in state and federal taxes, and creating more than 863,000 jobs.
*Birds are declining. Of the more than 850 species in the U.S., more than 200 species are at risk. Declines are primarily caused by habitat loss from urbanization, loss of wetlands, fragmentation and loss of forests.
The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations.


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