"Heavy stocking of cattle is an issue," Miller said. "Cattle quickly reduce available forage to the point that some ranchers feed hay by July and August. That's not quality habitat for grassland birds, which have seen the steepest declines in North America since we've been monitoring bird populations." He said.
"There are at least two things necessary for this model to work: ecological potential in the landscape and some level of social readiness," Miller said. "In the Grand River Grasslands, there is ecological potential, but landowners don't all recognize that eastern redcedar trees are invasive. We're working on that."
Miller says that with conservation, you need a plurality, a variety of approaches, because one size doesn't fit all.
"We're providing a model or a road map for a different way of doing things in conversation," Miller said. "We need to go beyond the traditional jewels-in-the-crown or fortress conservation models, characterized by national parks and other set-asides. Paying people to take their land out of production and creating state and national parks or reserves just aren't enough. This model may not work everywhere, but in some landscapes we think this can work, and we're trying to provide an initial example to demonstrate how it could work.
"It's meant to be a dialogue between, our team, landowners, and other resource management professionals, such as biologists who work for the Department of Natural Resources -- not us telling them what they need to do," he said.
|Contact: Debra Levey Larson|
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences