Early in 2023, the Rio Grande Joint Venture partnered with Pronatura Noreste and Bird Conservancy of the Rockies to host three workshops throughout the Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands in Mexico. The focus of these workshops was to gather local landowners, ranchers, members of ejidos, governmental agencies, NGOs, academics, and other experts to discuss threats and species of concern within Grassland Priority Conservation Areas (GPCAs). For each threat addressed during these meetings, such as grassland conversion into agriculture, shrubland encroachment, or overgrazing, teams also discussed possible efficient and measurable strategies and management practices to combat the threats to local grasslands. The information gathered from these workshops, along with the best available science to date, will be incorporated into the RGJV’s Conservation Investment Strategy (CIS), which will be completed later in 2023. The CIS will then be used as a working document for all partners involved to collaborate on restoring and conserving valuable grasslands within the GPCAs in Mexico and the lower United States.
Though similar threats were addressed at each workshop, some GPCAs are experiencing grassland and grassland-obligate bird population declines due to unique circumstances and threats, such as the disappearance of Mexican and Black-tailed Prairie-dogs, which are crucial members of a healthy grassland ecosystem. Additionally, some experts noted that electrocution due to incoming powerlines and disturbance by feral dogs pose threats to both large raptors (Golden Eagles, Aplomado Falcons) and smaller birds alike (Long-billed Curlews, Mountain Plovers).
Workshops were held in Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua (January 19th & 20th), Parral, Chihuahua (January 23rd and 24th), Saltillo, Coahuila (February 28th & March 1st), and at an ejido near Torreon, Coahuila (March 29th & 30th).