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Vermont Bobolink Project raises $31,000

Vermont Bobolink Project raises $31,000

The Bobolink Project, a collaborative effort of University of Vermont (UVM) Extension, UVM's Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources and the University of Connecticut (UConn), raised over $31,000 this summer to protect bird nesting habitat on 200 acres of Vermont hayfields. Most contributions ranged from $10 to $100 with several pledges well above $100, and one household pledging $2,500.

The project offers a way for Vermonters to support farms interested in managing their lands for wildlife by raising money through voluntary contributions to provide a financial incentive for farmers to delay mowing their hayfields until after the bobolink-nesting season is over. This measure helps ensure the survival of the species, which, according to the recently released Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas, has declined in numbers by 75% during the past 40 years. Other ground-nesting species that favor tall grass also are impacted.

Bobolinks arrive here and in other places in the northern U.S. in mid to late May, building their nests in grasslands, which have become scarce in recent decades. Farmers' hayfields make ideal nesting sites – until haying time. The young hatch around mid-June, which coincides with when farmers typically harvest their first cut of hay. Mowing not only destroys nesting sites but exposes fledglings to predation with mortality near 100 percent.

Using a reverse auction where farmers bid to receive payments, the Bobolink Project matched the bids requested by farmers with the contributions to establish a market price. That ensured that all farms were paid equally and fairly, with incentives to keep costs down.

Bids from farms under the reverse auction approach ranged from $50/acre to $160/acre. After examining the optimal arrangement for supply and demand, eight farms in Addison and Chittenden counties received $160 per acre or $1,600 for each 10-acre parcel.

Research and administrative costs for the project were covered by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so 100% of the money collected in Vermont went directly to Vermont farmers.

For more information about the Bobolink Project, visit the web site www.bobolinkproject.com.

Read more: http://dairybusiness.com/seo/article.php?title=northeast&date=2011-08-30#ixzz2cjYTPlaF