The urgent need for coordinated attention and our shared responsibility for coastal marsh conservation prompted the ACJV Management Board to approve a strategic focus on coastal marsh habitat carried out through the lens of our three flagship species: American Black Duck, Black Rail, and Saltmarsh Sparrow (link). ACJV partners are developing a comprehensive conservation planning framework to address the needs of these three species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.

The Value of Salt Marsh

Each of our flagship species relies on salt marsh habitats during a portion or all of their annual life cycle. Conserving our flagship species requires that we maintain, improve, and create high quality salt marsh habitat throughout the Atlantic Coast for the entire suite of salt-marsh-dependent birds. High marsh habitat and the species that depend on it are most vulnerable to sea level rise. The most immediate threat to these species (including Black Rail and Saltmarsh Sparrow) is increased nest flooding, which is causing rapid population declines. In the longer term, rising seas are also converting high marsh to more flood tolerant low marsh, which is unsuitable for breeding high marsh birds.

A Plan to Save Them

The Salt Marsh Bird Conservation Plan outlines the highest priority strategies needed to conserve the whole suite of salt-marsh-dependent birds throughout the Atlantic and Florida Gulf coasts, with a focus on high marsh species experiencing the most serious declines. The plan outlines strategies and actions for habitat conservation as well as policy and outreach needs. 

An all-hands-on-deck approach to conservation is needed to fully achieve the many objectives laid out in the Salt Marsh Bird Conservation Plan. ACJV partners are committing resources and capacity to implement strategies on the ground toward a common vision of a healthy and resilient coastal marsh ecosystem.