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Smith J.P., Slater S.J., Neal M.C. Recommendations for improved raptor nest monitoring in association with oil and gas development activities

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Smith J.P., Slater S.J., Neal M.C. Recommendations for improved raptor nest monitoring in association with oil and gas development activities
Cheyenne, WY: Bureau of Land Management, 2011. — 36 p. — BLM Technical Note. № 436.
Raptor nest monitoring may be utilized to guide federal land-use planning, protect raptors, and assess the potential impacts of oil and gas development projects.
The utility of monitoring programs is compromised when a program is not designed to address specific objectives and when the survey protocols are incomplete or applied inconsistently. HawkWatch International (HWI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) encountered such monitoring limitations during the Raptor Radii Research Project, which attempted to analyze historic raptor nesting data from Utah and Wyoming in relation to past energy development activities on BLM-administered lands and to identify potential sites for experimental testing of nest-protection buffers. We summarize the difficulties encountered during this research project and provide our (HWI) recommendations for improvement of future nest-monitoring programs to be conducted in association with oil and gas development activities. We identify the basic problems HWI encountered with regard to the nature of available data, which can be divided into three primary issues:
basic data standards and record keeping;
survey design and rigor; and
availability of ancillary data.
We then provide a series of HWI recommendations designed to guide future monitoring programs in ways that, if implemented as standard practice, should substantially improve the potential for achieving robust future evaluations of oil and gas development or other land-use-change impacts to nesting raptors. Regardless of their specific application, the recommendations for improved monitoring should be of value to any raptor nest-monitoring program implemented on federal lands.
We also identify links to examples of field datasheets and a relational database system designed to accommodate a comprehensive annual program of raptor nest monitoring, and provide recommendations for storage of collected monitoring data.
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