Engaging Private Landowners to Protect Nesting Habitats in Priority Important Bird Areas
Since joining Audubon a decade ago, Curtis has helped North Carolina add three new chapters, unheard of growth at the time. He also serves and advises on several working groups as well as regional and state partnerships, including the North Carolina State Scientific Counsel for Birds and the Atlantic Flyway Initiative. He is a key player in incorporating IBA data into North Carolina’s Statewide Comprehensive Conservation Planning Process, a major tool in citing issues and threats to natural resources across the state, as well as engaging local partners for conservation.
As the statewide IBA Coordinator, Curtis understands the challenge of trying to protect bird’s nesting and wintering habitats on private property. His Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship helped expand these efforts, enabling him to communicate more efficiently with these owners, and showed landowners how their priorities can be accomplished while still helping birds and other wildlife. Two thirds of the state’s forests are in private ownership, and over 90% of the land in the priority IBAs where Curtis works is privately held. Steps included recruiting and training Audubon chapter mentors, working with communities and improving under-utilized programs through better technical guidance, active management, and financial incentives.
Through increased outreach, improved communications, and better incentives, Curtis' work keeps landowners more informed about their options, and therefore more inclined to make better choices for their property and for the birds.