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Eastern Kingbird by Mike Benkis

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Prairies in Progress: Protect Habitat to Protect Birds

Photo by Stacey Coury

 

Audubon Society of Omaha is committed to the vision of actively protecting our native ecosystems and restoring nature-friendly environments in the greater Omaha area.

With the support of our board, our natural resource committee is investing in the earth to further the goal of conserving habitat for native birds. We believe the best way we can do this is to focus on acquiring more land around our two prairies, Audubon Society of Omaha Prairie and Cuming City Cemetery Prairie, and by working to reconstruct and maintain habitat in those spaces.

By acquiring land and then reconstructing native habitat around our two remnants, we will make each prairie astronomically more ecologically valuable. The carrying capacity for native species and the biodiversity of our prairies depend heavily on how conducive the adjacent or nearby land is to habitat. The quality and size of those bordering properties also play a significant role. By owning and managing more conservation land, we can directly support the existence of more birds and the community they depend on. Likewise, reducing or stopping development in the surrounding areas can enable best land management practices. Vital management actions, such as rotational grazing or prescribed fire, are more realistic in large preserves. Larger preserves are also more adept at competing with invasive species, because the frequency of invasive species introductions increases with the level of development in the area. Additionally, negative impacts by humans to soils and watersheds correlate directly to development. Development around prairies will inevitably lead to their slow demise. The most compassionate action we can take for our two prairies is to expand them.

We would like to further specify that we are looking at acquiring only connected or very nearly connected land parcels. While the idea of buying up scattered remnants all around is compelling, it is not conducive to quality habitat management. The conditions of our modern world require consistent management actions to maintain a balance in the system that is no longer present. Management logistics involve the transportation of equipment and supplies, which increases costs as the distance between parcels increases.

As urban sprawl continues to swallow up space, less and less land is available to native inhabitants. Once nature and humans were one and the same, but we are slowly becoming increasingly disconnected. As Omaha expands, it is more important than ever that conservation organizations hold on to spaces for the community to reconnect with a quality, native ecological community. Because our north Omaha prairie is accessible to our community, we are well-positioned to become a primary destination where everyone can learn about and learn to love our local native habitat. Audubon Society of Omaha can be a beacon of conservation for generations to come.

Partners in Conservation

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