By John D Alexander
, KBO Executive Director
From an expanding regional bird monitoring program, KBO fledged as an institution supporting observation-based science and its application to conservation and land management. By the time KBO was incorporated in 2000 we were implementing our Klamath Basin bird monitoring plan out of our field stations on Upper Klamath Lake. Realization of this program resulted from the diverse partnerships that have been essential to KBO’s success. NGOs (PRBO Conservation Science and World Wildlife Fund), academic and research institutions (The Evergreen State College, Southern Oregon University [SOU] and the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station), land management agencies (Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuge Complex, Fremont-Winema National Forest, Bureau of Land Management Lakeview District, and Bureau of Reclamation), and private industry (PacifiCorp) all contributed to that effort. At our first board meeting, Stewart Janes (SOU professor), George Alexander (business leader), Margaret Widdowson (biological consultant with international experience), CJ Ralph (ecologist at the US Forest Service Redwood Sciences Laboratory), and I established KBO’s operating philosophy. KBO’s philosophical approach includes: (1) taking a science-based non-advocacy approach to conservation; (2) providing broad-based information, based on fair, unbiased science to inform the conservation process; (3) sharing data; and (4) providing insight to management questions based on science rather than personal opinion. The Rogue Valley Audubon Society Chapter and the World Wildlife Fund’s Siskiyou Regional Program gave KBO a leg up by providing our first non-federal funds as matching dollars for federal grants. We were up and running, working in concert with the Redwood Sciences Laboratory and continuing efforts on the Klamath National Forest in California and in the Klamath Basin. In the Rogue Valley we were developing partnerships with many groups including Medford BLM, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Applegate River Watershed Council, and Friends of the Greensprings. Early members of KBO included colleagues, leaders of the local birding community, and community and business leaders from across the region, demonstrating wide public support. After years of volunteer service Glenn Johnson became KBO’s first field crew leader. In 2001 KBO developed an important partnership with the Ashland School District. We moved our headquarters to the District’s Willow Wind Community Learning Center, starting our outreach and education program. Ben Wieland, SOU Environmental Education Masters Student, fledged KBO’s education program, working with K-12 students, college students, community members, and land managers. In 2002 Jaime Stephens joined KBO as a Master’s student at SOU, taking over our extensive censusing program, and Bob Frey joined KBO in 2003 to oversee our banding and training programs. In 2003, KBO, in partnership with the Redwood Sciences Lab, received the Forest Service and Ducks Unlimited Taking Wing award for increasing understanding of wetland ecosystems and habitat relationships through excellence in science and management applications, testimony that we were heading in the right direction. With a clear mission, diverse support, exciting projects and a devoted board and staff, KBO was off to a strong start.