The Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition and the South Carolina Working Group of the South Atlantic Migratory Bird Initiative received the 2014 North American Migratory Bird Joint Venture Conservation Champions Award. The organizations are recognized for their leadership and participation in efforts to protect migratory birds and their habitats.
The Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition is a group of partners that has operated like a joint venture within the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, coordinating conservation planning and collaborating on habitat conservation within the State of Maine. Their cooperative spirit and dedication to protecting Maine’s important coastal habitats for migratory birds has resulted in Maine partners receiving more than 80 North American Wetlands Conservation Act and more than fifteen National Coastal Wetland Grants over the last 25 years. This has led to more than $150 million worth of conservation work that has permanently protected over a million acres of wildlife habitat. These partners all have taken a “resource first” approach, focusing their collective efforts on the most important habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife, and relying on each partner to contribute their expertise or resources to a portion of their mutual goals. Their success is partly a function of the number and hard work of Maine’s many local and regional land trusts. Maine ranks second in the nation in acres conserved by land trusts (close behind California, which is nearly five times larger). Maine’s 88 land trusts have conserved more than twice as much land as any other Northeastern state over the last ten years.
Partners in the Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition have worked closely with dozens of land trusts across Maine, many of which have taken lead roles in individual projects within their own delivery area. This, in turn, has resulted in significant contributions to the goals of all the major bird initiatives at local, regional, national, and hemispheric scales.
South Carolina Working Group of the South Atlantic Migratory Bird Initiative
Partners in South Carolina have exemplified how a diverse set of agencies and NGOs can establish mutual priorities and accomplish more working together than any of them could have achieved individually. Through the ACE Basin Focus Area Task Force and similar Task Forces focused on Winyah Bay and the South Lowcountry, Audubon South Carolina, Ducks Unlimited, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have worked together—and engaged many more partners—to protect the most critically-important landscapes for birds and other wildlife. Their collaboration has involved significant contributions by a host of different partners, including scores of private landowners, timber companies, foundations, local governments, and regional land trusts. These efforts were organized around the most important habitats identified in specific Focus Areas for bird conservation (including waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds, and landbirds), established by the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture through its South Atlantic Migratory Bird Initiative (SAMBI) and Waterfowl Implementation Plan. Since the beginning of SAMBI partners have received $79 million in federal conservation grant awards, leveraging more than $365 million from over 450 partners, to conserve over 378,000 acres of important habitat. Efforts within South Carolina have resulted in more than 200,000 acres (two-thirds of which is private land) of the 350,000-acre ACE Basin becoming permanently protected, along with 135,000 acres in the South Lowcountry (Savannah River) region, and 56,000 acres of coastal habitat around Winyah Bay. Other key landscapes protected include the Francis Beidler Forest, a 16,000-acre protected area recognized both as an International Important Bird Area and one of 23 Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance in the US.