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Grassland birds in peril, spurring efforts to save declining habitats

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Tammy Webber, Joshua Bickel, Brittany Peterson and Mary Katherine Wildeman reported over several months how the 50-year-old Endangered Species Act has failed to prevent the decline of America’s grassland birds and their habitat. Webber, an environmental team member based in Chicago, went over data and studies and interviews with scientists and concluded the birds are deeply in trouble. Over half their population has been lost since 1970, with some species declining 75% or more and headed toward possible extinction. Webber also found that only 38% of historic North American grasslands remain. Webber joined forces with climate and environment team visual journalists Bickel and Peterson to capture the beauty of this prairie habitat and document efforts by researchers, conservation groups, farmers and ranchers to figure out what can be done. The climate team’s Mary Katherine Wildeman built an interactive graphic. The package fronted the St. Paul Pioneer Press and played on at least 115 web sites.

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