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Wetland Symposium

Evaluation Strategy for the North American Waterfowl Management Plan


MICHAEL W. TOME

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North American Waterfowl and Wetlands Office, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203

One of the most frequently asked questions about the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (Plan) is "How is the Plan working?". To answer this question, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Evaluation Strategy was developed to guide efforts to establish relationships between protection and management of habitats and the response of wetland-dependent wildlife, primarily waterfowl. These activities are necessary for the Plan to fine-tune implementation activities and maintain support for Plan programs. This poster paper summarizes this evaluation strategy.

The first step of this strategy is tracking, the process of numerically tabulating habitat management accomplishments. Habitat accomplishments will be tracked beginning at the joint venture level utilizing a computer tracking system to follow all Plan projects. Projects will be geographically referenced by a standardized point location system, or in some cases, by incorporation of a geographic information system linkage with the tracking system. The tracking process will provide a record of changes in habitat that are a direct result of Plan activities. Waterfowl populations will be tracked utilizing information collected through the waterfowl breeding surveys coordinated by the Canadian Wildlife Service and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.

The second step is monitoring, the process of assimilating status information on habitat and wetland-dependent wildlife populations. The Plan identifies populations of waterfowl as indicators of the health of wetland ecosystems and associated habitats. At the continental level, waterfowl population monitoring will consist of comparisons of established objectives with annual status and trends of breeding populations in the breeding survey area. Habitat joint ventures will monitor changes in habitat and the factors limiting waterfowl populations which were identified in joint venture planning documents. Other wildlife species will also be studied to provide information on changes in population status in areas affected by Plan activities.

Finally, assessing Plan biological accomplishments will encompass elements of both tracking and monitoring, and will include feedback studies which will indicate whether management programs are effective and will thus ensure proper implementation of the Plan. Most importantly, assessment will aid in establishing priorities, guiding management decisions, measuring progress in achieving objectives, and identifying important data gaps that will require additional research. The assessment process is dependent upon the identification of the limiting factors and objectives that were identified in the Plan and joint venture implementation plans.

This strategy identifies a general direction for development of comprehensive joint venture evaluation plans that will be integrated into a continental assessment of the Plan through a combination of tracking, monitoring, and assessment. The overall evaluation process will be guided by a North American Waterfowl Management Plan Evaluation Team, consisting of scientists representing federal, provincial, state, and private conservation agencies from Canada and the United States. Results of evaluation will not only guide the implementation of the Plan in the future, but will provide answers to the question, "How can we support the North American Waterfowl Management Plan to its successful completion?".


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