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Q.1-3: The role of the Rice Stewardship Partnership in waterfowl conservation in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley

Presented by Taylor J. Linder - Email: LinderTJ@uamont.edu

Ricelands in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi provide rich foraging habitat for wintering waterfowl, supporting the energetic demands of nearly 40% of wintering waterfowl in the Mississippi Flyway. Though many studies have evaluated the effects of management techniques on waste rice availability on winter ricelands, few have quantified the scope of practices currently implemented on privately managed winter ricelands. Many studies have also assessed the number of duck energy days on the landscape but do not account for the different riceland management practices and their effect on waste rice availability. Moreover, little information is available to waterfowl managers as to the decision-making processes of rice producers engaging in practices that influence waste rice availability and waterfowl conservation. Here, we present the results of a census of the first cohort of Rice Stewardship Partnership (RSP) participants in the MAV (N=51). Using a semi-structured interview protocol, researchers asked participants about their current management practices, their motivations for choosing those specific practices, and the motivations and barriers that exist to flooding rice fields post-harvest to promote waterfowl habitat. Initial results demonstrate the importance of the RSP to help offset the cost of winter flooding. Additionally, many rice producers implement straw management in the fall before flooding to allow for earlier planting dates in the spring. The most popular technique for straw management gleaned from this study was rolling rice stubble, which is known to significantly effect waste rice availability. Lastly, with respect to certain regions, crawfish operations can negatively impact habitat availability for waterfowl as many rice producers implement disturbance practices to limit the presence of waterfowl on crawfish ponds.
Session: Poster Session 2 (Wednesday, August 28, 19:00 to 21:00)