THE IBA PROGRAM
The long-term conservation of birds and their habitats is a major goal of Montana Audubon, and central to this goal is the Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program. The IBA Program is a global initiative to identify, monitor, and protect a network of sites critical for the conservation of birds. Since 1995, the National Audubon Society has taken the lead in implementing the IBA Program in the US, and Montana Audubon administers the program in Montana.
IBAs help focus attention on habitats but are not legally binding. The concept is simple: identify and compile an inventory of areas that sustain healthy populations of birds (usually species of conservation concern), and then focus attention on these sites so that they can be conserved through acquisitions or easements, voluntary best practices or management agreements, or through other protective measures. By focusing attention on areas that are especially important for birds, the IBA Program is a valuable tool for helping set conservation priorities. Additionally, volunteers and Audubon friends can "adopt" individual IBAs and assist with monitoring, education and conservation.
THE IBA PROGRAM IN SOUTHWEST MONTANA
As of summer 2011, the Montana IBA Committee has approved 40 Important Bird Areas in our state. Sacajawea Audubon monitors three IBA's within it's tri-county area: Headwaters State Park, northeast of Three Forks; Madison Valley IBA, encompassing Ennis Lake and the Madison River; and Harrison Reservoir east of Harrison. Members of our chapter conduct bird census counts four times a year in each IBA.
For detailed descriptions of all of Montana IBA's, go to this link: http://www.mtaudubon.org/birds/maps.html