Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
CONTACT: Frank Quimby
For Immediate Release: February 2, 2005
(202) 208-6416
Secretary of the Interior Norton Presents Conservation Award to Colorado Dept. of Natural Resources and Colorado Farm Bureau

WASHINGTON - Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton today presented the Colorado Farm Bureau and Colorado Department of Natural Resources with a Conservation Service Award for protecting the mountain plover. Alan Foutz, Colorado Farm Bureau president, and Russell George, DNR director, accepted the award during the 62nd Department Honor Awards Convocation in Washington, D.C.

The award commended the Farm Bureau and DNR for partnering with
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to address issues of mountain plover nesting on agricultural fields in eastern Colorado.

"By partnering, the future of the mountain plover is promising. This agreement is a classic example of the kind of win-win partnership that is essential to successful conservation of our wildlife and its habitat," the award noted.

The mountain plover, an endemic species of the western Great Plains, was initially proposed for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Mountain plovers commonly show a preference for prairie dog towns and sites that are grazed by domestic livestock. Currently, these birds are found on sod farms, alkali flats, cultivated fields, and other types of agricultural lands which mimic their preferred habitat.

Private landowners and members of the Colorado Farm Bureau opened up more than 300,000 acres of land for data collection and research on the nesting and population status of the plover. Continuing with conservation efforts, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of the Interior and agreed to work in a proactive effort to increase the continental population of mountain plovers.

The cooperative agreement allows biologists to collect and analyze valuable information about nesting habits of the plover in a manner that is compatible with agricultural practices in Colorado. Farmers have agreed to survey fields for plover nests before cultivating the land.



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