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Oregon agriculture to the rescue of threatened bird
12/25/2013

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Oregon agriculture can play a key role in helping a threatened bird species in the Willamette Valley build back its numbers:


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Audio 01
The streaked horned lark has been on the decline in recent years and has been listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened. It just so happens that the bird likes agricultural land and farmers can help with the lark’s recovery:

PAGE:  “Its habitat is open spaces, flat ground with not a lot of vegetation, no tall vegetation around. So a lot of agricultural management has actually helped this bird.”  :14



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Audio 02
Stephanie Page of the Oregon Department of Agriculture says the listing of the bird by the US Fish and Wildlife Service comes with a special exemption for farmers just because ag activities seem to help. This is especially true for grass seed farmers in the Willamette Valley:

PAGE:  “Some of the agricultural practices that have benefitted the bird might be surprising to people. Herbicide applications, for example, between rows of crops can actually help create the bare ground these birds need.”  :13



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There is a lot to learn about the lark as the feds put together a recovery plan over the next year. They are looking for willing farmers in the valley to be partners. Help is available to landowners who want to design a project that might increase the number of larks in the area. Incentive programs are available, and again, the exemption in the law won’t prohibit landowners from farming. Interested farmers can contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.



Additional audio: Audio 03
PAGE says as natural habitat for the streaked horned lark has disappeared, the bird has switched to other habitats that look similar. That’s why the federal listing of the lark comes with an exemption:

“Both agriculture and airports actually create the types of open space that benefits the bird. Since the service perceived their activities were benefitting it, they were exempted from the regulation associated with the listing.”  :12



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Additional audio: Audio 04
PAGE says agriculture has done quite a bit to provide habitat for wildlife. This is the latest case:

“A lot of farmers have gone above and beyond to maintain an improved habitat for wildlife on their property. There are some species that we would expect to be there and the landowners have really been managing for them. Then we are periodically surprised by the wildlife that is found on agricultural lands.”  :18



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