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Hello All,

After 6,256 miles on this last trip, I am finally home in sunny but  
cold Montana. The rolling ridges of the prairie to the west, are  
frosted and hold a few inches of snow beneath the now yellowed native  
grasses. The Mountains are still, hiding in the cloud banks but  
certainly will reveal the peaks, cliffs and pine-covered flanks when  
the snow decides to move along.

Because I have been researching the status of the Greater Prairie  
Chicken for nearly two years now- after catching the fire from Phil  
Wire- many pieces of the overall picture are now becoming clear. The  
Prairie Grouse Technical conference in Portales, New Mexico which I  
just returned from really helped to clarify the big picture since  
Missouri is just one state involved in this dilemma.

I also do not wish to spill all of the beans for the film "The Last  
Prairie Chicken" which will be completed in one year. One PBS  
affiliate has already agreed to act as the presenting station for the  
national feed and we'll have plenty of time to see if they are the  
very best conduit.

The good news is that Max Alleger, Steve Clubine and Brent Jamison,  
all based in MDC's Clinton office, are each very dedicated and  
outstanding folks (and biologists) who very clearly are doing what  
each of them can do from a biological, professional and I am also  
certain a personal position. Since Charles Schwartz finished his work  
in Missouri (published in 1945)-primarily in Sullivan, Putnam and  
Adair counties, there were certainly resource and many decisions  
including political ones which guided the process to where we are now.  
Let me state clearly, although I may choose to look at several of  
these in the film, NOT one of them make any difference as to the  
Reality of where we are today... NO , not where we are---- where the  
Greater Prairie Chicken's population is today.

To turn this dire situation around will take an Enormous out-pouring  
of work, reality checks, enthusiasm and finances. At the National  
level, there are updated and much bigger picture guidelines on minimum  
sized areas to maintain sustainable populations of prairie chickens.

The emotion I felt when I realized that the winter flocks of over 200  
birds flushing and disappearing behind a ridge that I more than once  
saw at Taberville, or even smaller flocks of 50 or more at Herny co,  
Wahsahe she, or even Milo prairies  the booming of 28 males on a lek  
in Prairie State Park - all are now only notes of former numbers  
relegated to the next edition of the birds of Missouri. Those moments  
are now lines of history.

Those moments of wonder and joy- shared with dear friends like Mark  
Robbins, Chris Hobbs, Paul McKenzie, Sherman Suter, Joe Eades, Phoebe  
Snetsinger, Jim Wallace, Paul Bauer, and others (that I am certainly  
forgetting) created the overpowering surge of energy which has  
resulted in major initial financing for a film and if no where else a  
vision in my head of how to turn this around in Missouri.

In a taped interview with the New Mexico Director of Game & Fish- Tod  
Stevenson said, " We need to keep a constant eye on the bigger  
picture. Prairie Grouse don't live in a vacuum. WE need to keep all of  
this within the context of the challenges of maintaining these  
species, while watching what is happening out on the ground.
We are not going to stop Wind Energy but can we develop it in areas of  
most benefit to us while being the least detrimental to wildlife?

But the biggest thing we have to do is we have to be working with all  
of the Partners out there."

So this moment is a huge call to put our collective hands on the  
button that says-

Let's Keep the Prairie Chicken Booming

I have only one more trip planned for this year, then upon returning  
home I'll complete the script, many of the sequences and scenes are  
done and with all of the biology pretty firmly in hand, the script is  
pretty much done on one level. Shooting will be completed in late May  
2010, with editing of the mountain of footage to follow.
The trick is to make it something that not only is watchable (the easy  
part) but also brings the birders to the table where wildlife,  
industry, rural and urban interests have also found a seat. In this  
situation, corporate America has pushed things to the brink. But there  
are also surprising heroes out there doing really great things.

All my Best,

Tim

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