In Support of Removing the Kirtland’s Warbler from the Endangered Species List

June 22, 2018

Public Comments Processing
Attn: FWS-R3-ES-2018-0005
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike,
Falls Church, VA 22041-3803

To Whom it May Concern,

Huron Pines is a nonprofit conservation organization that has worked alongside the communities of Northeast Michigan for 45 years to collectively protect our rich natural resources. Our work brings together strong science driven decision making to complete the highest impact land and water conservation projects and we depend on strong community involvement and partner collaboration for success. We complete on-the-ground conservation projects to protect forest resources and water quality, develop and lead place-based stewardship education programs, coordinate regional and statewide efforts to remove invasive species, develop and move forward permanent land protection projects and convene broad partnership networks to set large-scale conservation goals and develop action plans to achieve those goals.

We have been a proud partner in conservation efforts for the Kirtland’s Warbler since 2012. Our role has been to lead development of new partnerships and programs that build a strong constituency of support for the species – an element needed to solidify the transition of the species from recovery to long-term conservation. Huron Pines fully supports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed delisting of the Kirtland’s Warbler (Septophaga kirtlandii) from the Endangered Species List and away from protections of the Endangered Species Act.

As evidenced in the proposed rule, the Kirtland’s Warbler conservation community has designed and implemented conservation actions to recover the species based on the best available science and strong coordination amongst a diverse set of partners to leverage success and ensure efficiency of efforts, since the start of the recovery effort. Throughout the 45 years of work, the Kirtland’s Warbler conservation community has continued to gather, share, evaluate, monitor, test and debate new information and proposed land management or threats abatement actions. This process, which is central to the recovery success, has allowed any adjustments to accepted management activities to be done in a coordinated, broadly supported manner and built a foundation of continual learning and innovation, resulting in steady and overwhelming success for the species.

This important standard of practice – maintaining a formal framework for information exchange, partnership development and adaptive management – will continue beyond delisting from the Endangered Species List. The Kirtland’s Warbler Conservation Team (Conservation Team), as referenced in the proposed rule, was launched in 2016 to serve as the operational vehicle for partner collaboration. Huron Pines, who has led the coordination of this coalition network,  has recognized the investment by the Service, the States and their partners in the Conservation Team and the coordination of a broadening partnership and structure to meet the growing complexities of conservation programming. Outcomes of this framework are further evidence of delisting being the right next step. For example, information and discussion through the Conservation Team structure will be used to update the current Inter-Agency Conservation Plan with more detailed actions and strategies for continued success of the species, detailed financial and budget information to tackle funding hurdles and include new information on the full extent of the breeding grounds, wintering and migration grounds to ensure the guiding document of Kirtland’s Warbler conservation going forward has a full lifecycle perspective.

Huron Pines also recognizes that the investment by the Service, the States and other conservation partners has gone beyond conservation planning discussion and on-the-ground conservation actions. Kirtland’s Warbler conservation partners continue to push the boundaries of endangered species management to proactively address emerging and necessary elements of large scale conservation issues. These include the integration of social science theory and technique into traditional land management programs and processes, and investment in human resources and capital to oversee, convene and motivate broad coalitions of partners. Huron Pines encourages the Service and its Kirtland’s Warbler partners to continue this investment in capacity building across the geographies of the species and maintain emphasis through raising awareness for,  and financial support to, elevate human dimensions research, practices, debate and evaluation to equal footing with traditional land management efforts of the same nature.

Huron Pines is proud and honored to be considered part of the legacy of the Kirtland’s Warbler Conservation and to be recognized by the Service for our leadership role in putting in place next steps and future strategies to reach the ultimate goal of long-term conservation for the Kirtland’s Warbler. Huron Pines remains committed to partnering on and supporting the activities of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, its partners and our communities for the long-term success of the Kirtland’s Warbler.

Brad Jensen
Executive Director
Huron Pines