Atlantic coast joint venture waterfowl implementation plan

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June 2005



Figure 1.1. Administrative boundaries of NAWMP habitat joint ventures in the United States. 3

Figure 1.2. Adminstrative boundaries of the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture. Original boundary circa 1988 depicted in panel A while current boundary, as of 2001, is depicted in panel B. 4

Figure 1.3. Bird Conservation Regions (BCR) of the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture. BCR 13 - Lower Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Plain, BCR 14 – Atlantic Northern Forest, BCR 27 – Southeastern Coastal Plain, BCR 28 – Appalachian Mtns, BCR 29 – Piedmont, BCR 30 – New England / Mid-Atlantic Coast, BCR 31 – Peninsular Florida, BCR 69 – Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands (not officially recognized by NABCI) 6


The following document, “Atlantic Coast Joint Venture Waterfowl Implementation Plan Revision” dated June 2005, is fully endorsed and supported by the Management Board of the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture.

Andy Manus (Chair)

The Nature Conservancy

Emily Jo Williams (Vice Chair)

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Southeast Region

Gerald Barnhart

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Gwenda L. Brewer

Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Jose Chabert

Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources

David Cobb

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Robert Ellis

Virginia Department of Game

and Inland Fisheries

Ken Elowe

Maine Department of Inland

Fisheries and Wildlife

Patrick Emory

Delaware Department of

Natural Resources

John Frampton

South Carolina Department of

Natural Resources

Noel Holcomb

Georgia Department of

Natural Resources

Helen Hooper

The Nature Conservancy

Judd Howell

U.S. Geological Survey

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Paul Johansen

West Virginia Division

of Natural Resources

Scott Klinger

Pennsylvania Game Commission

Michael Lapisky

Rhode Island Department of

Environmental Management

Craig LeSchack

Ducks Unlimited, Inc.

Wayne MacCallum

Massachusetts Division of

Fisheries and Wildlife

Martin J. McHugh

New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife

Frank Montalbano

Florida Fish and Wildlife

Conservation Commission

Marvin Moriarty

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Northeast Region

Edward Parker

Connecticut Department of

Environmental Protection

Ron Regan

Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife

Steve Weber

New Hampshire Fish

and Game Department

Scot Williamson

Wildlife Management Institute

David Wilson

U.S. Forest Service

John Yancy

National Park Service

The Atlantic Coast Joint Venture (ACJV) is a partnership of federal, regional and state agencies and organizations focused on the conservation of habitat for native bird species in the Atlantic Flyway of the United States from Maine south to Puerto Rico. The joint venture was originally formed as a regional partnership focused on the conservation of waterfowl and wetlands under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) in 1988. This plan is a revision of the original ACJV Implementation plan completed in 1988 that addresses the expanded geographic area and mission of the joint venture as well as the updates to NAWMP. It steps down continental and regional waterfowl population and habitat goals from the NAWMP 2004 Update to the ACJV area, presents habitat conservation goals and population indices for the ACJV consistent with this update, provides current status assessments for waterfowl and their habitats in the joint venture, and updates focus area narratives and maps for each state. The ACJV is strongly committed to conserving the 41 species of native waterfowl occurring in the U.S. portion of the Atlantic Flyway. This document is intended as a blueprint for conserving the valuable breeding, migration and wintering waterfowl habitat present within the ACJV boundary based on the best available information and the expert opinion of waterfowl biologists from throughout the flyway. This revision also provides a great deal of the baseline information necessary for moving forward with a more rigorous approach for setting future habitat goals as additional information becomes available and documents information gaps that have to be addressed before additional progress can be made.
This document is divided into eight principal sections that:

  • Describe important wintering, breeding and migration habitats,

  • Report on habitat trends,

  • Report on population trends for breeding and wintering waterfowl,

  • Describe threats facing waterfowl in the ACJV,

  • Provide a set of priority species for the JV and each Waterfowl Conservation Region,

  • Set revised habitat goals for the next five to ten years,

  • Outline strategies that can be used to achieve stated goals, and

  • Report on achievements by JV partners since 1988.

Most importantly, this plan identifies 149 focus areas for waterfowl conservation throughout the joint venture. ACJV partners need to conserve, through protection, restoration or enhancement, more than 638,000 ha (>1,577,000 acres) of wetlands and associated uplands over the next five to ten years to meet our commitment to waterfowl populations under the NAWMP. Detailed descriptions of each waterfowl focus area are provided and can be used by existing and potential partners to guide important conservation actions.

The North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP), signed in 1986 by the United States and Canada and later by Mexico in 1994, was developed in response to the dramatic declines seen in waterfowl populations during the mid 1980s. NAWMP, the first continental conservation plan of its kind, recognized the need for a coordinated effort to conserve wetlands and waterfowl habitats across North America if waterfowl populations were to be maintained and ultimately restored to higher levels. Specifically, NAWMP set specific population and habitat objectives that coincided with population levels observed during the 1970s; a time frame during which total populations were thought to be adequate for both consumptive and nonconsumptive uses. These goals were to be achieved through the conservation of landscapes coordinated by regional partnerships making decisions based on the best available science. This effort would require protecting, restoring and enhancing millions of hectares of wetlands and uplands in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Therefore, a unique delivery mechanism would be needed since no single government agency or conservation agency could meet these lofty ambitions.
NAWMP recognized that the most effective way to deliver habitat conservation for waterfowl across the continent was through self-directed, regionally-based partnerships known as joint ventures. These joint venture partnerships are a means for federal, state, and local governments, national conservation organizations, private individuals or groups, corporations, and other interested parties to pool limited resources to meet the goals set out by NAWMP. Currently, there are 14 habitat Joint Ventures in the United States (Fig. 1.1) and 4 in Canada. Additionally, three species Joint Ventures, Arctic Goose, Black Duck and Sea Duck, have been created to meet the goals and objectives of NAWMP.

The original joint ventures were associated with specific “Waterfowl Habitat Areas of Major Concern in the United States and Canada.” Two of the original six habitat joint ventures were the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture (ACJV) including the coastal plain from Maine to South Carolina and the Lower Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Basin Joint Venture (LGL/SLB JV) encompassing the U.S. portion of the lake plains of Lakes Erie and Ontario and the St. Lawrence River Valley (Fig. 1.2a). Initial priorities for both of these Joint Ventures were predicated primarily on the conservation of the American Black Duck (Anas rubripes). The initial objectives of these two joint ventures were to increase the wintering population index of black ducks to 385,000, an increase of almost 75% over the average index for the 1980s. To reach this goal NAWMP envisioned protecting 10,000 acres of breeding and migration habitat in the LGL/SLB JV and protecting 50,000 acres of migration and wintering habitat in the ACJV. In addition to these protected acres, NAWMP suggested increasing the wintering carrying capacity by 25% of land already managed for waterfowl in the eastern United States. The Category Plan for Preservation of Black Duck Wintering Habitat, Atlantic Coast (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1988) identified specific areas and habitat protection goals for wintering black ducks in the 13 Atlantic Coast states from Maine to South Carolina. The original Atlantic Coast Joint Venture Plan (Atlantic Coast Joint Venture 1988) built upon this plan, refined wintering areas, and added information on breeding areas and adjacent upland areas. Based on this process, the original ACJV goals were to protect, manage or enhance approximately 355,775 ha (879,138

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