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Subject: Proceedings from First America’s Grasslands Conference Released

Washington, DC (June 29, 2012) -- America’s grasslands and the species that depend on them are declining at alarming rates, but opportunities exist to protect and restore them, according to the Proceedings of the 1st Biennial Conference on the Conservation of America’s Grasslands, released today by the National Wildlife Federation and South Dakota State University.

America’s Grasslands Conference: Status, Threats, and Opportunities was held in Sioux Falls, SD from August 15-17, 2011. The landmark conference brought together more than 250 biologists, policy experts, ranchers, federal and state agency staff, representatives of elected officials, and conservationists to discuss the latest information on the status, threats and opportunities related to North American grasslands in order to raise the national profile of this endangered ecosystem and inform those interested in developing a roadmap for its conservation.

The two day conference included more than 80 speakers and poster presentations. The conference proceedings provide a wealth of information on grasslands, on topics including grazing and grasslands, grassland restoration and management, energy development, climate change and grasslands, and federal policy.

“Grasslands and the wildlife that depend on them are rapidly declining,” said Susan Rupp, Assistant Professor at South Dakota State University and Co-Chair of the conference. “In fact, grasslands may be one of the most threatened ecosystems worldwide.”

Conference presenters pointed to numerous threats to grasslands, including conversion to cropland, habitat fragmentation, and undesirable habitat changes due to fire exclusion, improper grazing management, and use and spread of invasive and non-native plants.

“Grasslands are immensely important, not just because of the diversity of wildlife they support, but also because of the multiple benefits that they produce –from nutrient cycling, water retention, aquifer recharge and storage of substantial amounts of atmospheric carbon to improving water filtration and the quality of runoff water,” said Julie Sibbing, director of agriculture and forestry at the National Wildlife Federation and Co-Chair of the event. “Significant opportunities exist to protect and restore our remaining grasslands”

Conference proceedings can be found online at: http://www.nwf.org/~/media/PDFs/Global-Warming/Policy-Solutions/Americas%20Grasslands%20Conference%20Proceedings061312.ashx and you can find out more about America’s Grasslands Conference at http://www.sdstate.edu/nrm/grasslandconference/index.cfm.

Aviva Glaser <glasera@nwf.org>
Friday, June 29, 2012


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