When Brian Russart, Milwaukee County Parks Natural Areas Coordinator, first came to the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI) about designating Milwaukee County Parks as an Important Bird Area (IBA) he was denied.
At the time, WBCI said it may be considered an IBA for educational purposes but not as a habitat for birds because the parks are located in urban areas. Not one to be turned down, Russart took that as a challenge.
Earlier this week, Milwaukee County Parks were officially recognized as an IBA.
Russart said it is a great honor and considers Milwaukee County Parks as “the heartbeat of bird conservation.”
“We are very important for bird habitation,” Russart explained.
According to WUWM, Russart, along with his team, manages 10,000 acres of natural park areas.
WUWM reported that through Russart and his team, they’re able to improve habitats through various measures such as planting trees.
Along with being recognized, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center brought along non-releasable birds of prey, one including the great-horned owl which lives in Wisconsin. The birds were carefully shown to those who attended the event, along with an educational lesson about the birds.
According to Russart, over the last decade, Milwaukee County Parks has given out 5,000 bird surveys and documented over 300,000 birds who been throughout the parks. Russart said thanks to the surveys, their able to have a better understanding of what birds live and stop in the Milwaukee County Parks.
By making the park’s system an IBA, Russart and his team can improve the conservation effort, WUWM reported.
Milwaukee County Parks joins 92 other IBA sites in Wisconsin. There are about 2,800 around the United States and 12,000 around the world.
For more information on what it means to be an IBA, visit https://www.birdlife.org/.