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Hogback Mountain Stewardship Project Enhances Young Forest Habitat

By Mary Miller, U.S. Forest Service

The Cherokee National Forest Ocoee Ranger District began implementation of the Hogback Mountain Stewardship project in 2010. The project goal is to enhance elements of Southern Appalachian young forest habitat including mast production and other forage, seclusion and young rearing areas for black bear, wild turkey and a host of many other game and non-game species. Habitat management of the area hopes to improve hunter success and satisfaction.
This is one of the first stewardship projects with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) to be implemented in the Cherokee National…
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Restoration of Grassy Balds and High Elevation Meadows

Landscape view of Whigg Meadow; Mary Miller.

By Mary Miller, U.S. Forest Service

Grassy balds and high elevation meadows play an important role in supporting biodiversity in the Appalachians. These unique habitats are rapidly declining range-wide due to woody plant invasion and will require active recovery and long-term management if they are to survive. A project by the Cherokee National Forest seeks to protect and enhance the grassy bald at Whigg Meadow (5,000 feet elevation) in order to conserve the unique plant and animal communities and contribute towards the restoration of high elevation early successional game and nongame species such as
golden winged warbler.…
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Preserving a Cultural Landscape while Creating Young Forest Habitat

By Mary Miller, U.S. Forest Service

Upper Wolf Creek in Cocke County, Tennessee was once home to the historic Wasp community, a small farming community from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s. It is designated a Cultural Heritage Area in the Cherokee National Forest Revised Land and Resource Management Plan and is adjacent to the Appalachian Trail. The Cherokee National Forest Unaka Ranger District Wolf Creek Project is restoring a portion of the historic landscape while creating habitat for wildlife including golden-winged warblers. The project is reconstructing 87 acres of historic fields, converting old roads into…
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Virginia’s Second Breeding Bird Atlas Launches

Volunteers assisting Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas in analyzing changes in bird populations in the state; Megan Marchetti.

By Sergio Harding, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

In 2016, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) launched the second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2) in partnership with the Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO). The VABBA2 builds on Virginia’s first Atlas, which was sponsored by DGIF and VSO between 1985 and 1989. As such, it will be positioned to analyze changes in the distributions of the Commonwealth’s breeding birds over the past 30 years. Following in the footsteps of other modern Atlases, the VABBA2 will also implement a point count survey across the state in order to generate abundance values from which population estimates and modeled…
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Surveying Distribution and Abundance of Northern Saw-whet Owls

Northern Saw-whet Owls; Rob Tallman.

By Richard Bailey, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

The true distribution and abundance of our smallest owl species has long been an open question. Northern saw-whet owl breeding habitat usually, but not always, includes a conifer component. During our second Breeding Bird Atlas survey, this species was detected at 13 locations statewide, including nest boxes monitored by staff and volunteers on Briery Knob and at Blackwater Falls State Park. In 2015, WVDNR initiated a two-year research effort to better-delineate distribution and habitat for the species using playback and modeling. Results for the breeding season survey in…
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WV Breeding Bird Atlas: Analyzing Data and Developing Book

By Richard Bailey, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

The final field season of the six-year atlas project was successfully completed in 2014. Staff coordinated agency activities, volunteer efforts and contracts and grants to assist the project while completing numerous days of field work to gather data for breeding confirmations and abundance counts. Priorities have shifted to outline and write chapters and species accounts for the upcoming book. Final six-year atlas summary include:
  • Abundance sampling completed on over 400 priority blocks;
  • Total bird observations for the entire atlas period now stand at 106,816;

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Working Group Advances Shrike Conservation, Builds Partnerships

Shrike banding; Sergio Harding.

The Loggerhead Shrike Working Group was established in 2013 in response to the need for international collaboration on Loggerhead Shrike (LOSH) conservation in eastern North America. In eastern Canada, a remnant population of LOSH is listed as federally Endangered and confined to the province of Ontario. This population is believed to be limited by factors at work on its wintering grounds in the eastern U.S. At the same time, declines in both the breeding and wintering populations of LOSH in the U.S. have resulted in the species’ near-absence from many northern states, with West Virginia and the Appalachian portion of…
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Shade Coffee Plantations Critically Important for Songbirds in Venezuela

Five years of research in Venezuelan shade coffee support the importance of agroforestry systems for wintering migratory songbirds such as the Cerulean Warbler. Researchers at Ohio State University found Cerulean Warblers were 3–14x more abundant in shade coffee where survival and condition were high (Bakermans et al. 2009). Commonly planted shading trees, such as Inga, were preferred by migrants for foraging, especially foliage-gleaning migrants such as the Cerulean Warbler (Bakermans et al. 2012, Newell et al. 2014a). In addition, maintaining large trees and understory in shade coffee helped to support a variety of canopy and ground foraging migrants (Bakermans et…
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Market-based Mechanisms and Incentives for Working Landscapes Latin America

Researchers are studying how working landscapes - like this one near Jardin, Colombia - can be managed to support migratory birds and livelihoods within local communities; Amanda Rodewald.

The most pressing global challenges relate directly or indirectly to environmental degradation. As the environment declines, human communities are vulnerable to disasters, climate change, social unrest, and emerging diseases, with the rural poor bearing the brunt of negative outcomes. We are challenged to identify creative ways to sustain biodiversity, protect ecosystem services, and support human well-being within “working landscapes” where poverty and biodiversity converge. A growing number of programs and incentives aim to address these challenges, but their viability often remains aspirational and untested in the market. Our project focuses on Nicaragua, which has pledged to restore 2.8 million hectares…
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Social and Environmental Outcomes of Specialty Coffee Chains in Colombia

Shade-grown and bird-friendly coffee beans; Amanda Rodewald.

Many small landholding farmers depend upon global coffee value chains and are being impacted by recent changes in the international coffee market. In the past, coffee markets were highly regulated by governments (e.g. export quotas), and coffee was marketed primarily as a commodity with little product differentiation. Today, governments have little influence on competitive global markets, and coffee is increasingly differentiated as the demand for specialty coffees rise. As a result, innovative business models and certification schemes have been established to profitably integrate small landholder growers into global specialty coffee chains while protecting ecosystems and landscapes. In spite of the…
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