Migratory Bird Conservation

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The Department of Energy (DOE) is engaged in activities related to the protection and conservation of migratory birds at its laboratories and facilities nation-wide. These activities are carried out at the Department’s facilities pursuant to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and Executive Order (EO) 13186, Responsibilities of Federal Agencies to Protect Migratory Birds, with support from the DOE Migratory Bird Workgroup. Headquarters provides technical assistance in the resolution of migratory bird issues for the Department.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act

The MBTA is the domestic law that affirms the United States' commitment to four international conventions (with Canada, Japan, Mexico, and Russia) for the protection of a shared migratory bird resource.  Each of the conventions protect selected species of birds that are common to both countries.  The MBTA protects migratory birds by governing the taking, killing, possession, transportation, and importation of such birds, their eggs, parts, or nests.  The M-Opinion (M-37050) issued on December 22, 2017, by the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor, states that the Migratory Treaty Act does not prohibit the incidental take of migratory birds.

Executive Order 13186

EO 13186, Responsibilities of Federal Agencies to Protect Migratory Birds, signed on January 10, 2001, directs Federal agencies to take certain actions to further implement the MBTA and promote the conservation of migratory bird populations.  The EO 13186 outlines Federal agency responsibilities and establishes an interagency Council for the Conservation of Migratory Birds (Council) to oversee the implementation of this Order.  It requires agencies to avoid or minimize the adverse impact of their actions on migratory birds and ensure that environmental analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act evaluates the effects of proposed Federal actions on such species.

Migratory Bird Awards

The Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award (Award) annually recognizes an action conducted by or in partnership with a Federal agency that meets the intent and spirit of EO 13186 by focusing on migratory bird conservation.  The Council solicits nominations for the Award in January of each year for the preceding fiscal year and the Award is presented in May.  Each participating agency can submit one nomination each year.  For 2017, DOE solicited nominations from its programs and received a total of three:

  • U.S. DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Golden Field Office
  • U.S. DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Pantex Plant
  • U.S. DOE Hanford Site/Richland Operations Office

An external panel of judges selected the Pantex Plant nomination titled “A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Contributing to Migratory Bird Conservation Across Hemispheres” as DOE's nomination for the 2017 Award.  Honorable mentions were presented to NREL/Golden Field Office’s nomination titled “National Renewable Energy Laboratory Migratory Bird Conservation Planning and Building Retrofits” and the Hanford Site/Richland Operations Office’s nomination titled “Protecting Avian Species in Hanford’s Shrub-Steppe Ecosystem.”  More information on the Council’s awards is available at their web site.

Migratory Bird MOU

DOE and the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) pursuant to the MBTA and EO 13186. The purpose of the MOU is to strengthen migratory bird conservation through enhanced collaboration between DOE and the FWS, in coordination with state, tribal, and local governments. The MOU identifies specific areas in which cooperation between DOE and the FWS will substantially contribute to the conservation and management of migratory birds and their habitats.

The MOU explains that DOE manages more than 2 million acres of land, of which a substantial amount is undeveloped and includes wetlands, shrub-steppe, shortgrass prairie, desert, and forested areas that “provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, including many species of migratory birds.” In the MOU, DOE recognizes that some of its activities have the potential to affect migratory birds (e.g., transmission lines, power poles, invasive weed control, and various construction activities) and agrees that it is important to conserve migratory birds and their habitats.

DOE and FWS entered into the first MOU on migratory bird protection in 2006.  The MOU is currently under revision and will take effect upon signature of DOE and FWS.

Reports and Documents