Upland challenges in the prairie

Upland challenges in the prairie

Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) Integrate Basin-Wide Challenges from Grassland Birds to Pollinators and Shrimp Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers LCC Gwen White & Glen Salmon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and dozens of other agencies & organizations in the 7 LCCs of the Mississippi River Basin. Upland challenges in the prairie High commodity prices are great for farmers Not so great for grassland birds and pollinators. From 2008-2012, plowed under 7.2 million acres for crops. These are the highest rates of loss since the Dust Bowl. Is this another Silent Spring? and down river in floodplains & Delta As farmers retire over the next 20 years, about 400 million acres will change hands some to international investors. [all national cropland = 442 million acres] From: Oakland Institute 2014. Down on the Farm. Wall Street: Americas New Farmer. What if we had a Mutually Reinforcing Plan of Action? Where is the highest value for aligning specific conservation actions of multiple programs?

Map high priority agricultural conservation core areas and corridors in subwatersheds at the intersection of: - Species and habitat distribution Nutrient export Social capacity for implementation Connectivity for climate adaptation Where would we focus combined actions? Interactive online spatial analysis & optimization tools pink = initial water quality priority zone blue = example bird focus areas (Audubon, Ducks Unlimited, etc) 22 LCCs -7 span the Mississippi Basin 1. Plains & Prairie Potholes LCC Rick Nelson 2. Upper Midwest & Great Lakes LCC John Rogner, Brad Potter 3. Eastern Tallgrass Prairie & Big Rivers LCC - Glen Salmon, Gwen White 4. Great Plains LCC Nicole Athearn, James Broska 5. Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks LCC Greg Wathen, John Tirpak 6. Appalachian LCC Jean Brennan 7. Gulf Coast Prairie LCC Bill Bartush, Cynthia Edwards Landscape Conservation Cooperatives What are they? Applied conservation science partnerships include federal and state agencies, Tribes, conservation organizations, and

universities within a geographically defined area. Fundamental units of planning and adaptive science that inform conservation actions on the ground. A national and international network of land, water, wildlife and cultural resource managers and interested public and private organizations to generate cooperative research and pragmatic action at a landscape scale. LCCs = Natural Resource Management A Think Tank for Agencies & Organizations Who participated in the workshop? Universities: Mississippi State University Ohio State University Louisiana University Marine Consortium University Wisconsin-Madison NGOs: Agricultural Watershed Institute Mississippi River Network Ducks Unlimited Enviroscapes Ecological Consulting Fishers & Farmers Fish Habitat Partnership Gulf Hypoxia Task Force Illinois Council on Best Management Practices Kgregg Consulting 7 Landscape Conservation Cooperatives Lower Mississippi River Committee Midwest Conservation Biomass Alliance Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource

Association National Wildlife Federation Natural Land Institute Oak Ridge National Laboratory Ohio River Fish Habitat Partnership Practical Farmers of Iowa The Nature Conservancy Wildlife Management Institute State agencies: Indiana DNR Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Nebraska Game & Parks Commission Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Federal agencies: Army Corps of Engineers Dept of Energy Dept of Transportation EPA (OWOW, HTF) Fish & Wildlife Service Forest Service US Geological Survey (NAWQA, HTF) National Park Service NOAA USDA Farm Service Agency USDA NIFA USDA NRCS (AR, IN, TN, MRBI) 50 participants in Memphis Over 200 in the contact list

What is the process of Structured Decision Making (SDM)? Step 1. What problem are we solving? How and where to best design and implement conservation delivery (habitat and species management) throughout the Mississippi River Basin in a way that benefits terrestrial and aquatic wildlife populations, while simultaneously reducing the contribution of nutrients to Gulf hypoxia and balancing agricultural interests. Step 2. What are our Objectives (blue) and Performance Measures (red)? Increase or maintain productivity (ecosystem services) Increase Agricultural Productivity Soil health Ave $/acre Decrease Regulatory Uncertainty Input costs

Decrease Gulf Hypoxia Maximize Resilience Decrease Risk Species (abundance, life history or occupancy) Increase Net Returns Bottomland Hardwood Forested Riparian Prairie Modified Headwater Increase Wildlife Benefits Water quantity

Decrease Implementation costs Watershed nutrient load Local nutrient load Ground water Surface water N & P load Ave $/acre What surrogate species may indicate progress in each of the 4 Ecological Systems? Increase Wildlife Benefits Modified Headwater Systems Henslows sparrow Bobolink Prairie chicken Monarch butterfly Prairie Systems

Mussels Cyanobacteria Vascular plants Red-eyed vireo American redstart Smallmouth bass Black redhorse Pallid Sturgeon Shovelnose sturgeon Pugnose minnow Forested Riparian Systems Alligator gar Mallards Wood duck Mussels Red-headed woodpecker Prothonotary Warbler Cerulean Warbler Acadian Flycatcher Bottomland Hardwood Systems Step 3. What Alternative Actions are we considering for each of 5 Farming Production Systems? Farming Systems

Corn & Beans ght ersification tlands op insurance e (3-5 yrs) e netics ight gain r quality ian mgt ee integrity ives arkets d-friendly beef fuels action costs emical inputs or/awards Grazing Lands Floodplain Forest Connectivity Hydrologic

Habitat Drainage water mgt Wetlands Draw down Alt crops (forest) Invasives (veg) Marketing Rice Water mgt Groundwater use Irrigation efficiency Local water quality Fisheries Nutrient mgt Pest mgt Beneficial insects Partial flooding fields Marginal rice lands Wetlands Hunting/recreation Cotton Irrigation efficiency Soil health Tillage Cover crops Grassed field borders Feral hogs Pest mgt (IPM)

Water quality Beneficial insects How can we group and compare High, Medium & Low Cost Strategies that benefit each Ecological System? Focal Systems Headwaters / Working Lands Prairies Riparian Forest Floodplain / Upper Midwest Floodplain / Lower Miss Valley Low Low Low Low Low Prescribed

fire Drainage lay out for mgt Buffers Regulate diversions Remove drainage Drought Bank stabilization Wetland reforestation Veg restoration Medium Medium Medium Dredge wetlands Medium Rotational grazing Buffers Easements Connectivity Delayed haying Dam removal Stop log structure Delayed grazing Bank stabilization Carp grates Native seed mix Patch connectivity Reforestation High High High

High High Prescribed fire Alt crops (biomass) Acquisition Acquisition (forest) Connectivity Drought mgt Buffers Buffers Convert marginal land Backwaters Grazing BMPs Soil health Wetlands Vegetation Levee breaks Native seed mix Drainage water mgt Connectivity Water control Control structures Wetlands Habitat restoration Remeandering Vegetation control Invasives Grassed buffers Crop land for inverts

Hydrologic restoration Water diversion Riparian habitat Dam removal Re-open channels Manure mgt Bank stabilization Branding/certification Next Step 4. Which Strategies (actions) contribute the most to achieving Objectives? Often requires: Building conceptual models (what we know now) Addressing uncertainty (feasibility & future research) Example table rating impact of Actions on each of the Objectives: Alternative Actions Objectives Terrestrial Wildlife Acquisition & restoration Grassed buffer CRP in block Cover crops 0.3? 0.8?

0.01? Aquatic Wildlife Agricultural productivity Pesticide reduction $100/acre? Soil health $30/acre? Implementation costs $8,000/acre? Gulf hypoxia $300/acre? $500/acre? $20/acre? low N capture? high N capture? med N capture? high N capture?

Which relationships are key leverage points for achieving Objectives(red) with these Actions (green) in each of 4 Ecological Systems? Example Influence Diagram: Modified Headwaters - Hydrology Drainage Management Two-stage ditches Acquisition/ easement Land use Terrestrial Habitat Quality Surface inlets Flashy Hydrograph Aquatic Habitat Quantity Head-cutting Modified Hydrology

Bank erosion Wetland restoration Terrestrial Habitat Quantity Surface Drainage (ditching wetlands) Bed Destabilization Aquatic Habitat Quality Nutrients Terrestrial Species Aquatic Species Gulf Hypoxia Subsurface Tile Drainage Agricultural Production

Runoff Stream restoration Sediment Channelization Erosion Regulatory Uncertainty Next Step 5. What are the Trade-offs? Optimization Models weigh the options. Values metrics indicating social capacity to adopt practices How does climate change affect landowner preferences? What about crop pricing in international markets? How does land ownership affect conservation? How do agency mandates and resources constrain options? Gaps uncertainty and future research What areas of uncertainty affect success the most? Which relationships require more research? Scenario Planning for future conditions What drives adoption of conservation practices? Payments, Markets, Land Value, Climate Change Agriculture can change quickly.

Estimated Imidacloprid use (neonicotinoid) 1992 - 2009 What are the Barriers & Opportunities for implementation for each Farming Production System? Farming Systems Corn & Beans beef nal change g Grazing Lands Floodplain Forest Flood insurance policy Ownership Authorities Infrastructure Drainage Value of nutrient cycling Nutrient mgt regulations Market limitations Biofuels Carbon sequestration Ecotourism / recreation

Invasives Tax base (acquisition) Wetlands Program awareness Rice Utilization Precision ag Timing cover crops Soil health High value crop Costly inputs Program complexity Cotton Operation capacity Precision ag data High priced crops Technical assistance Water supply Program complexity Where areas are gaps in scientific knowledge for each of 4 Ecological Systems? Focal Ecological Systems Headwaters / Working Lands

Prairies Impact on agriculture Integrated Pest Mgt Water quality Hydrology Riparian Forest Impact on agriculture Water quality Connectivity Fish Terrestrial Low head dams Remeandering Stream bank stabilization Floodplain / Mainstem Water quality Timber stand improvement Reforestation Acquisition Converted ag land Invasives Large river diversion What do we need to know about Climate Change? Impacts on wildlife Species vulnerability range shifts, timing of pollination?

River and prairie system dynamics? How to design landscape corridors for future climate conditions? What to use for performance metrics (end points of success)? Impacts on land use Agricultural production systems (choice of crops & livestock)? Water resource demands & infrastructure? Renewable energy demands & opportunities? Ecosystem services from wildlife conservation (pollination, soils)? How can this framework be used? Ideas from the community Landscape design at various scales (examples) TNC Resilient Sites for Terrestrial Conservation in the Great Plains FWS Region 3 Surrogate Species in ETPBR LCC FWS Refuges in Illinois River NE CSC social capacity metrics & mapping project Conservation practices Biomass industry integrates wildlife diversity into prairie & forest Iowa State & Neal Smith NWR developing Prairie STRIPs practice Iowa & Kansas DOT roadside prairie plantings Research & management needs

USDA Forest Service Floodplain Forestry group USGS Large Rivers Initiative with Floodplain Science Network FWS/MN DNR Prairie Reconstruction Initiative Advisory Team Other LCCs partner efforts What high performing project locations might be willing to be pilot test areas? Boone River Watershed, Iowa (Iowa Soybean Association) Wabash River, Indiana Kickapoo River, Wisconsin

Big Darby, Ohio Yellow River basin in Iowa Joint Ventures Edwards Plateau (Hill Country Alliance) Confluence Partnership where Missouri meets Mississippi River (wetlands, habitats) Ohio Watershed in Distress Program, Ohio Dept Agriculture MRBI use SPARROW models to prioritize watersheds, county staff pick subwatersheds Mackinaw River Partnership, Illinois (TNC) paired watersheds for city of Bloomington Conservation Delivery Networks work in Joint Ventures in lower basin Delta Farmers Reach Program working with MRBI working lands and wetland restoration Batteure Lands wetlands restoration

Root River Driftless Area Midwest Conservation Biomass Alliance LMRCC & Army Corps work - dike notching and the ILT multi-LCC grant NBCI for examples of local groups Green Trees program for growing bioenergy Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. in Edwards Plateau Guadalupe Bass recovery Tara - large estate near Vicksburg managed as hunt club Prairie Plains Resource Institute in Nebraska USFS Forest Stewardship program Mississippi state water quality initiative (identified in the background reading) Coordinated Agricultural Products project CenUSA in Iowa. Louisiana State University cane production. Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement A communications strategy will encourage action based on the spatial analysis. What are the messages (consistent themes) for? Strategic planning (modeling) Policy changes & infrastructure Resource allocation (implementation)

Which audiences have efficient networks? Ag producers / land managers Corporations / private entities (agribusiness) Consumer demand for sustainable agricultural products Where do farmers go for information? Extension services providing technical assistance Agencies delivering on-the-ground programs NGOs advocating for policy changes State and federal agencies reporting monitoring results etc. Next steps for the MRB/GH Project Team 1. Ask broader community to refine & prioritize framework Focal 4 Habitats & Species Strategies by Ecological Systems (high, med, low - cost & performance rating) Any additional Actions by 5 Farm Production Systems Barriers & Opportunities Science Needs High performing watersheds for pilot projects Ideas on potential applications (end users of products)

2. Team to develop project approach for prototype conservation corridor landscape design(blueprint) Identify specific large scale coarse application Simplify conceptual models for high performance actions Determine data needs, including maps Create optimization model & spatial analysis Join us! Conservation agencies want to piece together a landscape that works for wildlife, water quality and people. Glen Salmon Gwen White [email protected] 812-212-7455 www.tallgrassprairielcc.org

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