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~ The 15th North American Crane Workshop ~
 

The North American Crane Working Group held the 15th North American Crane Workshop in Lubbock, Texas, on 8-11 January 2020. The agenda included an introductory social at the National Ranching Heritage Center followed by two days of presentations at Texas Tech University and a concluding field trip. There were 71 registrants. The scientific program consisted of 34 oral and 14 poster presentations. Local chairs Dr. Blake Grisham and Kathy Brautigam did an outstanding job of planning and arrangements.

The Workshop is where we formally recognize the achievements of individuals who have dedicated themselves to saving cranes and crane habitat. Our group’s highest honor, the L. H. Walkinshaw Crane Conservation Award, was presented to Dr. George Archibald of the International Crane Foundation. George co-founded ICF with Dr. Ron Sauey in 1973 in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and has remained active to date, currently as Senior Conservationist. ICF is well-known as the most prominent international organization devoted to conservation of the world’s cranes, and George’s accomplishments there during the past 5 decades have been numerous and monumental.

Lubbock is located in the center of the Southern High Plains, which due to numerous saline lakes and playa wetlands is home to ~80% of the overwintering Mid-Continent Population of sandhill cranes. Field trips were coordinated with USFWS Region 2. The first was to Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, which hosts >30,000 sandhill cranes in January. Muleshoe is the oldest national wildlife refuge in Texas. Muleshoe hosts numerous waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds in winter for birders and supports one of the largest remaining tracts of short-grass prairie on the SHP. Staff of Muleshoe NWR discussed the history, ecological importance, and threats to saline lakes on the SHP. The second field trip to provide a close-up view of grassland and sand-shinnery oak shrubland restoration and management on a privately owned ranch near Causey, New Mexico, unfortunately had to be cancelled when the entrance road proved impassable after overnight snowfall.

At the business meeting of the general membership, 11 board members were elected by voice vote to serve a 3-year term. Officers were elected by the new Board after the Workshop. These included Hillary Thompson as president, Megan Brown as secretary, and Sammy King and Barry Hartup continued as vice-president and treasurer, respectively. The remaining Board consists of continuing members David Aborn, Tommy Michot, Glenn Olsen, and Richard Urbanek and new members Antonio Cantu, Tom Leiden, and Jeannie van Vianen. Our special thanks to outgoing Board members George Archibald, Daryl Henderson, and Paige Smith.


Sandhill Cranes at Muleshoe NWR

Sandhill Cranes at Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge.
 
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