North American Grasslands

Number 2020-03

WHEREAS, grasslands provide vital habitat for a vast number of wildlife species and provide economic viability for multiple industries and yet continue to be one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world; and

WHEREAS, over the last decade alone, millions of acres of native grasslands in North America that provide critical habitat to grassland-dependent wildlife have been converted to cropland; and

WHEREAS, recent studies on bird population loss have shown a particularly drastic loss in grassland birds estimating close to 75% of grassland bird species in decline; and

WHEREAS, grasslands in Canada and Mexico which also provide essential habitat to many wildlife species, including migratory birds that breed in Canada, migrate through the United States and winter in Mexico, are also rapidly disappearing; and

WHEREAS, well-managed grazing systems, such as holistic grazing management, rotational grazing, and advanced multi-paddock grazing can increase carbon sequestration, improve water quality, and improve habitat for wildlife, including for grassland birds; and

WHEREAS, avoided conversion of grassland, restoration of grassland, and improved grassland management have the potential not only to sequester and store carbon, but also to restore and protect wildlife habitat and biodiversity in a rapidly changing world; and

WHEREAS, federal conservation programs that support grassland conservation, such as Farm Bill working lands and easement conservation programs and Fish and Wildlife Service easements, are popular and effective tools for grassland conservation, but have limited funding and long waitlists of landowners wanting to participate; and

WHEREAS, programs for the protection of migratory waterfowl habitat have demonstrated that Mexico, Canada, and the United States can develop effective, cooperative strategies for protecting essential habitats such as grasslands.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Wildlife Federation, at its Annual Meeting assembled June 12, 2020, supports the creation of a new federal policy around the protection and restoration of North American grasslands with robust funding to support voluntary grassland conservation efforts, including easements, restoration, and management; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Wildlife Federation supports policies that give ranchers the tools to keep their grasslands in grazing and improve grazing management practices; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Wildlife Federation supports the creation of a federal Grassland Conservation Strategy and improved monitoring of grassland loss at the federal level; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the National Wildlife Federation supports the creation of a Tri-National Agreement with Canada and Mexico to work cooperatively on grassland conservation.