New Government Initiative Will Benefit 10-State Effort To Save Declining Songbird

Friday, March 9, 2012
Golden-winged Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
- photo by Laura Erickson

The new “Working Lands For Wildlife” (WLW) project announced Friday by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture will provide substantial benefits to birds and other wildlife, but will be especially beneficial to the imperiled Golden-winged Warbler.

The WLW project will provide a huge boost for a Golden-winged Warbler conservation effort in the eastern U.S. involving dozens of organizations across ten states. The effort is being facilitated by the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture (AMJV), and American Bird Conservancy (ABC). Partners include federal and state agencies, universities and not-for-profit conservation organizations. The Golden-winged Warbler effort is being carried out in the species’ Appalachian breeding range of Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.

“The Golden-winged Warbler is one of the most seriously threatened, non-federally listed species in eastern North America. Everyone familiar with its plight should be excited about the WLW project and the opportunity it provides to better engage private landowners in the.  conservation effort. If we are going to have this bird around for future generations, we’re going to need both public and private collaboration,” said Brian Smith, AMJV coordinator and a wildlife biologist with ABC.

"The additional funding from the WLW project will provide for increased on-the-ground habitat restoration and conservation for the Golden-winged Warbler. These efforts will be complemented by technical expertise that AMJV partners will provide through monitoring the species’ response to habitat work, and the vital educational component designed to improve understanding of the importance of young forests and scrubby, open habitat to this bird,” Mr. Smith said.

In addition to benefits to the Golden-winged Warbler, the WLW will also boost conservation efforts for the Greater Sage-grouse, Lesser Prairie-chicken, and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher in the western and central U.S., as well as three non-bird species currently listed or proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act: the New England cottontail rabbit, bog turtle, and gopher tortoise.

This WLW project follows a sage-grouse initiative in the West that began nearly two years ago. The initiative is being delivered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through conservation programs in the Farm Bill, with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, state fish and wildlife agencies, and other partners.

The Appalachian Mountains and the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes region are the population strongholds for Golden-winged Warbler; however the species has undergone significant population declines throughout the greater Appalachian region due to loss, degradation, and modification of its preferred young forest habitat. Hybridization with the closely-related Blue-winged Warbler, nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds, and deforestation on its wintering grounds in Central and South America are also factors in this species’ decline.

ABC has made the Golden-winged Warbler a major focus of its conservation work, and is coordinating conservation activities in both the US and in wintering ground sites in Central and South America.

ABC is working to boost Golden-winged populations in a number of ways, including participation in the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative - a coalition of federal and local agencies, citizens, and other groups dedicated to restoring forests on reclaimed mine sites in the eastern United States. These restored forests can provide much-needed habitat for the Golden-winged Warbler and other early-successional species such as the American Woodcock. Also, ABC works closely with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Golden-winged Warbler Working Group to develop and deliver on-the-ground projects throughout the species’ range.

ABC is also working with partners in Latin America to restore essential wintering habitat for the Golden-winged Warbler through cooperative efforts with local communities, coffee growers, and ranchers that promote bird-friendly practices such as silvipasture (the practice of combining forestry and grazing of domesticated animals in a mutually beneficial way) and shade-grown coffee. ABC is also planting thousands of trees to restore native wintering habitat for the Golden-winged Warbler and other neotropical migrants.

FWS announced on June 2, 2011, that listing the Golden-winged Warbler under the Endangered Species Act may be warranted, and the Service is now initiating a full review of the species. In addition, many state fish and wildlife agencies within the Appalachian region have listed this bird as a species in greatest need of conservation within their states’ boundaries.

Before widespread European settlement of the Appalachian region, Golden-winged Warblers relied on young forest or open woodlands created by natural fires, natural disasters, or beavers. During the early and mid-part of the Twentieth Century, much of the region was cleared through timber harvesting, and later, through strip mining for coal. Second growth vegetation and revegetation of these areas resulted in habitats that were conducive to species such as the Golden-winged Warbler. Over time, these areas have matured or become dominated by species that do not provide the habitat structure that warblers need.

The WLW initiative will focus on creating and maintaining the types of habitat necessary to sustain breeding populations of warblers in and around their current breeding areas. This will include efforts designed to expand the existing Appalachian range of the species and increase the amount of available habitat throughout the Appalachians. Two particular challenges are that many key areas are located within a matrix of lands with mixed ownership and there are potential conflicts with regard to commercial timber harvests.

The AMJV is one of 18 habitat Joint Venture partnerships in the United States. The AMJV is comprised of state and federal government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and industries who work together to ensure the long-term sustainability of native bird populations that breed in the Appalachian Mountains. 


"To Provide A Proper Resting Place: Creating The Chattanooga National Cemetery" Program Set For Dec. 8

Hunters Encouraged To Take Deer To Checking Stations This Saturday For Data Collection And CWD Surveillance

Interior Recycling Bins Available At All Tennessee State Parks


Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, in partnership with the Chattanooga National Cemetery, invites the public to participate in a one-hour program on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m., ... (click for more)

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be collecting deer biological data on the opening day of the rifle season, Nov. 17 at various locations across East Tennessee. Data to be collected ... (click for more)

Visitors to Tennessee State Parks will now be able to use interior recycling bins at all 56 of the state parks in the second phase of improvements to the parks’ recycling program. The bins ... (click for more)


Outdoors

"To Provide A Proper Resting Place: Creating The Chattanooga National Cemetery" Program Set For Dec. 8

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, in partnership with the Chattanooga National Cemetery, invites the public to participate in a one-hour program on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m., focusing on the creation of the national cemetery in 1863. This is a free program and will take place in the Chattanooga National Cemetery at the Andrews Raiders Monument in Section H. ... (click for more)

Hunters Encouraged To Take Deer To Checking Stations This Saturday For Data Collection And CWD Surveillance

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be collecting deer biological data on the opening day of the rifle season, Nov. 17 at various locations across East Tennessee. Data to be collected will include deer age estimates, antler measurements, and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance samples. With the addition of Internet checking in 2009 and the TWRA On the Go mobile ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Humane Educational Society Officials Say Chip Baker Trying To Derail $10 Million County Appropriation For New Shelter

Officials of the Humane Educational Society say County Commissioner Chip Baker is trying to derail a planned $10 million county appropriation to the HES for a new shelter. On the eve of a schedule vote by the County Commission, HES sent out an email titled "Don't Let Commissioner Baker Delay The Vote!" Commissioner Baker is among some members on the commission interested in ... (click for more)

Eddie Pierce Chosen New Red Bank Mayor; Ruth Jeno Returns To Commission

Three newly elected commissioners were sworn in by Judge Gary Starnes at the Red Bank Commission meeting on Tuesday night. Two are returning, Commissioners Ed LeCompte and Terry Pope, and the third, Ruth Jeno, is returning, after a lapse, for a third term on the commission. The commissioners elected Eddie Pierce to serve as the new mayor and Terry Pope to be vice mayor. ... (click for more)

Opinion

Discrimination And Double Taxation For Animal Shelters - And Response

Some Commissioners want Hamilton County to donate $10 million in tax dollars to help the Humane Education Society (HES) build a new facility. The majority of Hamilton County residents (specifically those residing in Chattanooga, East Ridge, Lakesite, Walden, Signal Mountain, Lookout Mountain, Soddy Daisy, and Collegedale) will be prohibited from using HES animal services unless ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Thanksgiving Eve

At some point this spring, as I impatiently awaited the song birds as I do every year, I took a less-traveled path during My Morning Readings and came across a Thanksgiving story that I loved. Trust me, I have been waiting for about six months … yes, impatiently … to share a story that was written seven years ago by J. Allen Wilson. I searched for him yesterday but the closest ... (click for more)