Recognizing Important Bird Areas (ESHB2560), better known to legislators as the “bird bill”, allows the Washington Dept of Natural Resources (DNR) to work with Audubon to officially recognize Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Washington. IBA data will then be included in the statewide Natural Heritage Program database sometime in 2005 or 2006.
This database is a scientific tool to help public and private landowners and elected officials make land-use decisions such as:
- Public land acquisition
- Watchable wildlife designations
- Habitat restoration projects
- Community environmental education
Here’s what the bill does:
- Creates a partnership between the DNR and Audubon to recognize the importance of birds and their habitat in our state.
- Includes a public involvement component requiring that DNR publish information about IBA sites in local newspapers and hold public hearings.
- Saves money for the state because DNR will use Audubon’s existing data about bird populations to officially recognize Important Bird Areas.
- Uses a scientifically valid recognition process for IBAs. Audubon’s bird population data was collected and tested by internationally adopted methods.
The bill does NOT create new regulations or trigger existing regulations. Audubon worked with the Business and Industry Association of Washington and Farm Bureau to clarify that an IBA designation does not automatically create a “critical area” under the Growth Management Act.