Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced more than $88,000 in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant funds will support neotropical migratory bird conservation in Illinois. Audubon-Chicago Region will receive $88,310 and partners will match with $265,170 to return publicly owned hayfields and degraded grasslands in surrounding Chicago to a diverse prairie habitat, greatly increasing numbers of neotropical migrant grassland birds.
“Chicago is a major migration stop-over point in the Midwest for neotropical migratory birds,” said Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “Birds are indicators of the health of our environment. Our partnership with Audubon-Chicago helps ensure that we are doing everything we can to address the conservation concerns affecting this important habitat for migrating birds in Illinois.”
The State of the Birds 2009, a report released earlier this year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state agencies and non-federal partners, revealed sobering declines of bird populations during the past 40 years. In the grasslands of the Midwest, conservation efforts are critical to protect grasslands that are essential for the birds in a landscape where little native prairie remains. This report calls attention to the collective efforts needed to protect nature's resources for the benefit of people and wildlife. (For the full report, visit http://www.stateofthebirds.org .)