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Partnering to Achieve Red Spruce and Spruce/ Northern Hardwood Restoration

Volunteer planting spruce saplings; photo by Cathy Johnson

Red spruce communities are considered one of the most endangered forest systems in the United States. Originally thought to cover approximately 500,000 acres in West Virginia, only about 10% of the state’s original red spruce and spruce-hardwood forests now remains. Most of the remaining high elevation spruce forest in the state is located on the Monongahela National Forest (MNF), where it currently supports many sensitive bird species, including the Northern Goshawk, Red Crossbill, Blackburnian Warbler, Northern Saw-whet Owl, and a variety of other species of concern.

To help conserve and restore these important habitats, MNF entered into…
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Working with Landowners to Provide Habitat for Grassland Birds in NY

Loggerhead Shrikes no longer breed in New York; photo by Jeff Nadler.

Through its Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has enrolled 526 acres of private lands within the AMJV region in 5-year contracts for grassland bird habitat management. An additional 433 acres are currently being enrolled. These lands are part of a statewide effort that will soon have enrolled well over 2,500 high-quality grassland acres in total.

Landowners enrolled in LIP agree to manage their lands according to a site management plan tailored to each property. Site management plans generally require removal of trees and woody vegetation and rotational mowing of…
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Restoring Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

Nantahala National Forest; photo by USFS.

The National Forests in North Carolina are working with partners, organizations, and research scientists to identify and work toward restoration goals for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. As part of this effort, the Forest Supervisor created an ecological restoration steering team to further wildlife habitat restoration efforts. The group recently met and decided to “adopt” one of the Golden-winged Warbler focal areas in western North Carolina (as identified by the AMJV) that contains a high proportion of National Forest land. The group is receiving guidance from Golden-winged Warbler experts within the AMJV.

“We are quite excited…
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Habitat Enhancement Underway on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

Prescribed fire on Brawley Mountain; photo by Bill Elliott.

The Blue Ridge Ranger District of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is implementing a project to enhance habitat conditions for the Golden-winged Warbler. Only 12 breeding pairs currently call Georgia home, all in Chattahoochee National Forest’s Brawley Mountain area in Fannin County. The Golden-winged Warbler is a State Endangered species and a high-priority bird in Georgia’s Wildlife Action Plan and AMJV’s Implementation Plan.

The Brawley Mountain project involves the use of timber harvesting, prescribed burning, and selective herbicide application to create approximately 400 acres of open oak woodland conditions favored by this species in Georgia. The project will…
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Improving Land for Woodcock in Ohio and West Virginia

American Woodcock; photo by USFWS.

Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) created habitat for American Woodcock and other early successional habitat species on Ales Run, Broken Aro, and Ross Lake Wildlife Areas this past year. These areas, with a combined total of ~7,000 acres, are comprised mostly of mature forests of various types, but also contain a mixture of young forest, shrublands and open areas, and wetlands. Through the use of commercial logging companies, 216 acres of young forest were created in the 3 areas and established as habitat demonstration areas in cooperation with Wildlife Management Institute’s (WMI) Appalachian Mountains Woodcock Initiative (AMWI).

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Virginia Program Seeks to Conserve and Protect Important Bird Areas

Removing inavasive species like Autumn Olive is critical for providing the best habitat for wildlife; photo by USFWS.

Important Bird Areas, or IBAs, are sites that provide essential habitat for breeding, migrating, or wintering birds. Within the Commonwealth of Virginia, there are six IBAs contained within the AMJV: the Upper Blue Ridge Mountains, Allegheny Highlands, Radford Army Ammunition Plant, Mount Rogers/White Top, Powell and Stone Mountains, and Pine Mountain. Of these, the Allegheny Highlands IBA and Upper Blue Ridge Mountains IBA were identified as Globally Important by the National Audubon Society because they support significant populations of Cerulean Warbler (present in both) and Golden-winged Warbler (present in the Allegheny Highlands).

The Virginia IBA Program seeks…
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Habitat Management and Bird Monitoring at Mt. Zion/Piney Tract IBA

Audubon PA and the Seneca Rocks Audubon chapter purchased this sprayer for PA Game Commission to use for control of woody vegetation on SGL 330; photo by PA Game Commission

Over the last two years Audubon Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania Game Commission, Seneca Rocks Audubon Society, Penn State University, and Clarion University have improved grassland habitat and monitored bird response at PA State Game Lands 330 (SGL 330) in Clarion County, Western PA. This site is well known for its grassland birds, especially Henslow’s Sparrows, having been reclaimed to grasslands after strip mined decades ago. As with many “legacy minelands” in the AMJV, habitat management targeting priority birds is needed to maintain or enhance grasslands, improve shrublands, or mitigate the soil compaction to encourage reforestation. On SGL 330, partners decided to…
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Forest Stand Improvement and Bird Surveys in Kentucky

The Kentucky Warbler is a species of Greatest Conservation Need in Kentucky; photo by Jim Rathert.

Through various granting sources, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) is actively planning and implementing “Forest Stand Improvement” (FSI) on many of their Wildlife Management Areas throughout the state. The goal is to improve forest habitat for Species of Greatest Conservation Need listed in Kentucky’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP), by providing structural diversity within mature stands, encouraging oak regeneration, removing invasive/exotic species, and providing early successional habitat. In 2010, KDFWR conducted FSI surveys at two WMAs in the AMJV: Paintsville Lake and Fishtrap Lake. FSI will occur at these WMAs during the fall and winters of…
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Habitat Management, Research and Monitoring at Monongahela National Forest

Golden-winged Warbler habitat range allotment on the Monongahela National Forest; photo by K. Aldinger

Managers at the Monongahela National Forest (MNF) in West Virginia are continuing their emphasis on managing early successional habitat (ESH) for multiple species, focusing on sensitive non-game species like Golden-winged Warbler as well as game species such as the Ruffed Grouse, American Woodcock, and Wild Turkey. MNF is continuing its partnership with West Virginia University and the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources in studying the effects of ESH manipulation on Golden-winged Warblers as part of a broader, range-wide research program for the species. While ESH is uncommon on the Forest and is in decline throughout the species’ range, results…
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Habitat Restoration and Management Efforts in Tennessee

Brown-headed Nuthatch, a high priority species, was also a surprise find as they have not been previously recorded on the Centennial Wilderness or State Park; photo by Ted Tucker.

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) has been partnering with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and the Tennessee Division of State Natural Areas since 2007 to restore habitat for the Golden-winged Warbler and other important wildlife species in the Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area (HCCSNA). This area is an important IBA within the Highlands of Roan conservation initiative and within the AMJV’s “Southern Blue Ridge Forest Block” Bird Habitat Conservation Area. TWRA project leader Scott Dykes and his crew are enhancing habitat on the forest edge through selective bulldozer operations followed by native warm and cold season grass…
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