Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative Grant
Purpose of Grant: The purpose of this project is to restore the native habitats at the Watershed Center at Valley Water Mill Park through the implementation of the Forest Stewardship Management Plan provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). These actions align with our mission, “to sustain and improve the water resources of Springfield and Greene County through education and effective management of the region’s watersheds.” and the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative (MoBCI) goals to “get people excited about birds” and pursue “integrated, all-bird conservation” (adapted from MoBCI website). The habitat improvements we propose to make will benefit birds, native flora and fauna, improve water quality, and improve the overall resilience of the Watershed Center and Valley Water Mill Park to natural or human generated stressors, and therefore, accomplish the goals of MoBCI and the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks (WCO).
Why use MoBCI Resources at the Watershed Center and Valley Water Mill Park?
- The Watershed Center is a birding hot-spot because of the habitat diversity, access to water, and proximity to City—it’s important for the birds, and for teaching people about conservation.
- Ebird data shows 189 bird species have been reported at Valley Water Mill Park which illustrates the importance of this location to migrating and nesting birds, and to the dedicated people who watch and study them at the Watershed Center.
- Of the 189 bird species recorded here, three species, the Northern Harrier, Snowy Egret, and Peregrine Falcon are designated Endangered in the State (Missouri Species and Communities of Conservation Concern Checklist, Missouri Department of Conservation, 2016).
- The location will be on the Great Missouri Birding Trail in 2017.
- The Greater Ozarks Audubon Society (GOAS) has a long-term commitment and involvement to the site, with projects including feeder stations, a waterfowl observation blind, a watering bubbler and chimney swift towers. GOAS frequently leads field trips to the site.
- In 2015, over 3,500 students visited the Watershed Center and participated in educational programs; the surrounding Valley Water Mill Park is visited by thousands of people each year.
- Our wetland and small reservoir are spring-fed and stay ice free most winters, making it an important resting place for migratory waterfowl during extended cold periods.
- We work to explain these and other methods of implementing good land stewardship to program participants, visitors, and volunteers, hopefully multiplying the impact.
- Habitat improvements to our grassland parcels will provide benefits for birds and native pollinators such as monarchs, and increase ecosystem diversity.
- We work closely with MDC, Missouri Master Naturalists, Greater Ozarks Audubon Society, Springfield Greene County Park Board, the City of Springfield, and Greene County which provides excellent partnerships for education and data gathering, such as “bio-blitz” activities.
- This project will involve a massive amount of volunteer participation and labor providing significant in-kind resources.