WSU's Bird Conservation Efforts Recognized with National Award

OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University's partnership with a local bird conservation group has resulted in a prestigious national award.

A group of conservation organizations affiliated with the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative recently announced that the Linking Communities, Wetland and Migratory Birds Initiative, which includes a partnership with WSU, is a 2009 recipient of the North American Bird Conservation Award. 

"This is a great honor for the Linking partners," said John Cavitt, a WSU zoology professor. "Linking has worked hard to make range-wide bird conservation a part of the community."

Linking was recognized for unparalleled accomplishments in bird conservation both locally and internationally. Ten years ago, Don Paul, avian biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and a group of local biologists organized the Linking Communities, Wetland and Migratory Birds Initiative to promote conservation of habitats for Great Salt Lake birds along their migration routes. To help meet its goals, the organization has formed partnerships with biologists in Canada and Mexico, where many of the birds spend part of the year, and strives to promote conservation, education and ecotourism in each area. Local members come from various backgrounds and include representatives from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, WSU, Davis County Community and Economic Development Department and Tracy Aviary, as well as local businesses and teachers. 

Cavitt has been influential in developing the initiative's partnership between the University of Nayarit in Mexico and WSU, which monitors snowy plovers that spend the summer months at the Great Salt Lake and migrate to Mexico for the winter. 

In 2007, Cavitt led a month-long survey by a team of 25 researchers from WSU and the University of Nayarit who visited more than 300 potential sites looking for snowy plovers along the Great Salt Lake shore. Many of the sites were difficult to reach, requiring surveyors to use airboats and ATVs. According to the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, the North American snowy plover population is highly imperiled, while the coastal population is designated as threatened by the Endangered Species Act. It is estimated that much of the interior population lives along the Great Salt Lake shoreline, Cavitt said.

The award was announced on March 19 at the North American Wildlife Conference in Washington, D.C., and will be presented to Linking at the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival in May.

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John Cavitt, zoology professor and director of undergraduate research
801-626-6172 •
Travis Clemens, assistant director of Media Relations
801-626-7948 •