The program, called BirdReturns, starts with data from eBird, the pioneering citizen science project that asks birders to record sightings on a smartphone app and send the information to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in upstate New York.
The BirdReturns program, financed by the Nature Conservancy, then pays rice farmers in the birds’ flight path to keep their fields flooded with irrigation water from the Sacramento River as migrating flocks arrive. The prices are determined by reverse auction, in which farmers bid for leases and the lowest bidder wins.
I’m sure you’ve seen it yourself when you drive along. Rows and rows of birds species using wetlands or furiously pecking for corn. I made this movie in 2009 after stumbling on a very strange assortment on highway 12.Hab
But when I saw this article in the New York Times, all I could think of was beavers. What if the nature conservancy or the salmon fisheries were paying farmers to leave beavers on their land? What if there were incentives to letting beavers create wetlands, raise the water table, filter toxins, increase salmonids, augment the bird population, and enrich the riparian border?
Sound crazy? I’m hoping for another easter miracle.