The Important Bird Area Program (IBAs)
Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are just what their name implies: places that are important for birds. The IBA Program is a global initiative whose goal is to identify, monitor, and protect a network of sites critical for the conservation of birds, referred to as Important Bird Areas or IBAs. Habitat loss and climate change are two profound threats facing bird species across the globe. The IBA program is an exciting initiative whose mission is to identify areas that are and will be critical habitats for birds now and in the future. Below are the IBA designations of Bighorn Audubon with support from Audubon Rockies.
Ucross IBA Designation, March 2015
In March of 2015, under the guidance of Audubon Rockies, the local Bighorn Chapter of Audubon and the Ucross Foundation formed a partnership to designate the Ucross Ranch of 20,000 acres as an Important Bird Area. The ranch is not only incredibly important for birds, but it is managed extremely well with a keen focus on conservation. The habitat improvements and management of the ranch by Apache Foundation during the past 10 years have been essential factors in this recent designation. Dr. Canterbury’s new book on The Ucross Ranch can be purchased on Lulu books. Also download a 2018 Bird Checklist for Ucross Ranch.
In November, 2016, The Bighorn Audubon, in cooperation with Audubon Rockies, and The Brinton Museum formed a partnership to designate 620 acres of The Brinton as an Important Bird Area. This IBA designation recognizes the importance of The Brinton for birds on a national scale. For aid and viewing the Brinton’s diversity of birds look for the latest book which is available at The Brinton Museum: Common Birds of The Brinton Museum and Bighorn Mountains Foothills
Valley View Subdivision, September 2017
In 2017, the 266 acre Valley View Subdivision in Big Horn was designated an IBA. The subdivision is located on the eastern slope of the Bighorn Mountain foothills and is predominately shortgrass prairie and sagebrush steppe, offering a myriad of prairie and sage adapted species.
Kleenburn Recreation Area, July, 2018
In 2018, the 77 acre Kleenburn Recreation Area was designated an IBA. Kleenburn contains lowland riparian habitat that borders the Tongue River. It is just east of the Acme exit off I90 north. It includes walking trails for birding that follow the river, and offers several ponds, a marsh, and a grassland complex. A 2018 Bird Checklist is attached.
Falxa Land Company, July, 2018
In 2018, the Falxa Land Company of over 20,000 acres was designated an IBA. The Falxa Land Company is located in northeastern Johnson County and is predominately a prairie grassland/sage ecotype. This vegetational community is important for dozens of avian species. The IBA includes 5 miles along the Powder River.
Kerns and Amsden Wildlife Habitat Management Areas (WHMA), July, 2019
In 2019, both Kerns and Amsden WHMAs were designated IBAS in partnership with Wyoming Game and Fish Sheridan Region personnel, spearheaded by Christina Schmidt. “The Kerns and Amsden Creek celebrate their 70th and 75th anniversaries respectively in 2019,” said Sheridan Region Public Information Specialist Christina Schmidt. “While these areas were originally purchased for and are still managed first and foremost for elk winter range, dozens of other wildlife species benefit from the management and conservation of these areas. As a region, we were interested in pursuing IBA designations for these units to show their value not only for elk and other big game species, but a variety of wildlife.” The other significance of these lands is their location along the Bighorn mountain foothills, a region that is most often in private ownership with focus on cattle grazing versus management for wildlife and birds.
The conservation of birds and their habitats is the mission of The National Audubon Society and our local chapter. IBAs provide critical habitat to one or more species of birds during some portion of the year (nesting areas, crucial migration stop-over sites, or wintering grounds). IBAs may vary in size and may include public or private lands, or both. For a place to qualify as an IBA, it must either support a large concentration of birds, provide habitat for a threatened or rare species, or provide habitat for a bird with a very limited or restricted range. Once nominated and selected as an IBA, a site is then ranked as significant at either the state, continental, or global level.