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GWWA Habitat Management on Public and Private Lands Surpasses Annual Goal

Female Golden-winged Warbler with nest material; photo by Ed Burress, Audubon NC

A multi-agency team created or prepared more than 14,000 acres of young forest habitat within the Pennsylvania’s Golden-winged Warbler (GWWA) Focal Conservation Area this past year. The partnership not only surpassed their habitat goals for Pennsylvania, but also surpassed the annual breeding habitat goal for the entire Appalachian GWWA Conservation Region. While many of these acres are located on public lands managed by Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), more than 3,600 acres represent private lands partnerships. The partnership consists of PGC; Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); USFWS-Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program; American Bird Conservancy (ABC); National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF); and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).  

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Survey Doubles Known Golden-winged Warbler Population in Roan Highlands

The Southern Golden-winged Warbler Group meet to coordinate the survey blitz; photo by Chris Coxen, Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy.

The Southern Golden-winged Warbler Group coordinated a survey blitz in the Roan Highlands that essentially doubled the known population of Golden-winged Warblers (GWWA) in the region and further indicates that the Highlands are a stronghold for the population and a priority area for research. Consisting of partners from NC, TN, VA, and GA, the group met twice in 2012, with the March meeting setting the stage for the GWWA Survey Blitz that took place in the spring of 2012. AMJV partners from the U.S. Forest Service (Cherokee and Pisgah Ranger Districts), North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NC WRC), Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), North Carolina Audubon Society, and the…
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Kittatinny Ridge Coalition Engages Communities and Landowners

Protection of Kittatinny Ridge is critical for migrant raptors and species of conservation concern; Picture by Ginny Kreitler, Audubon

The Kittatinny Ridge is a major raptor migration corridor and home to a host of spectacular Hawkwatch Sites, including the world-renowned Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. As one of the largest remaining forested areas of southeastern Pennsylvania, protection of the Ridge is critical not only for migrant raptors, but for interior-forest and early-successional habitat nesting species, including many species of conservation concern.

In 2012, Audubon and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) emphasized outreach to private landowners in this area and approached those who owned land identified as priority protection targets. Working with local land trusts, Audubon helped enroll landowners in a voluntary registry program that recognizes their importance…
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Prescribed Burns in the Allegheny Highlands of Virginia

The Big Wilson burn was the largest collaborative burn between The Nature Conservancy and U.S. Forest Service; photo by Bobby Clontz.

Partners within the Allegheny Highlands landscape of the Appalachian Fire Learning Network had a successful year of controlled burns on over 6,400 acres. The partnership – consisting of The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and others – works to restore the historic role of fire to oak- and pine-dominated ecosystems throughout the region to benefit a diversity of avian species dependent on forest structural and compositional heterogeneity. This year’s accomplishments included completion of 4,500 acres of the Big Wilson burn, a unit within the 18,000-acre Warm Springs Mountain Restoration Project that spans parts of the George…
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Grassy Balds: Restoring Globally Rare Habitat in the Southern Appalachians

A grassy bald atop Little Hump Mountain; photo by Chris Coxen, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) continues habitat restoration work on Little Hump Mountain, one of the several grassy balds crossed by the Appalachian Trail, within the Highlands of Roan along the North Carolina/Tennessee border. Over the last three years, SAHC has secured funding from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the National Forest Foundation to expand the available breeding habitat for Golden-winged Warblers (GWWA) around the margin of the grassy bald. While multiple GWWA breeding pairs have been detected within a few miles of Little Hump, the mountain itself has only supported one pair since monitoring was started about six years ago. Encouraged by the habitat response thus far,…
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Audubon NC Projects Target Habitat Management Locally and Internationally

Audubon NC supported work that attached geolocators to 70 Wood Thrush for monitoring efforts; photo by Bill Hubick.

Audubon NC continued grassland conservation work in collaboration with the Blue Ridge Parkway (National Park Service). This work took place on agricultural lease lands including a native pollinator conversion on a six acre tract, restoration of an additional seven acres, and rotational management of 45 acres of grassland in a cooperative agreement.

Early Successional/Shrublands
Golden-winged Warbler (GWWA) surveys in coordination with NC Wildlife Resources Commission, USFWS, and Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology were conducted at over 125 sites within North Carolina. Furthermore, Audubon NC worked with partners in Tennessee, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania on a new Conservation Effects Assessment Program (CEAP) project with…
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Integrating GWWA Management with High Elevation Balds Community Restoration

Hump Mountain Management Area view into Bradley Gap; photo by Nora Schubert.

The Forests of North Carolina worked closely with an independent biologist to begin integrating grassy balds community restoration with Golden-winged Warbler habitat management needs at high elevation sites in Roan Mountain. These sites are part of a three-year Balds Community Restoration Project funded by the Forest Service. The Forests of North Carolina managed several acres of early successional habitat located at 4,800-5,400 feet on the Pisgah National Forest and Cherokee National Forest lands using recommendations from the AMJV and partners Golden-winged Warbler Best Management Practices. Several other faunal species that use early successional habitat at these high-elevation sites are expected to benefit from these efforts.
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Partnership Works with Landowners to Restore Habitat on Private Lands

Habitat management restoration project in Warren County NJ; photo by Evan Madlinger, NRCS.

As part of the Working Lands for Wildlife program for Golden-winged Warblers (GWWA), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) contracted with 5 landowners who owned a total of 87 acres to pursue habitat management in 2012. This was possible because of outstanding support from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW) Endangered and Non-game species program. Sharon Petzinger (who oversees GWWA for NJDFW) worked closely with NRCS to provide valuable assistance by visiting each site. The collaboration was mutually beneficial as Sharon became familiar with NRCS programs and the processes and tools for doing habitat restoration, while educating NRCS staff on all aspects of GWWA. The partnership…
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Enhancement Underway at Site of Georgia’s Remaining GWWA Population

Enhancement project on Brawley Mountain is increasing habitat for Georgia’s sole GWWA population; photo by Jim Wentworth, USFS.

Significant progress was made in the implementation of a project to enhance habitat conditions for the Golden-winged Warbler (GWWA) on the Blue Ridge Ranger District of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. The project is located on Brawley Mountain in Fannin County and is the site of Georgia’s only remaining GWWA population. The project is executed under a Stewardship Agreement with the National Wild Turkey Federation. Approximately 184 acres of  timber harvest, 150 acres of midstory chainsaw felling, and 80 acres of herbicide stump treatment has been accomplished. Plans are being finalized to prescribe burn a portion of the area this winter. When completed, the project will create approximately 400…
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Large Land Acquisitions Protect Unique and Diverse Habitats

American Woodcock will benefit from young forest management on land acquired by WV DNR; photo by Bill Hubick.

Over the past year, more than 3,000 acres were acquired in Tucker County and another 2,500 acres in Morgan County by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR), Wildlife Resources Section. The new Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Tucker County was purchased with monies generated from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses as well as funds from the West Virginia Outdoor Heritage Conservation Fund. With its proximity to the Canaan Valley region, this area provides a unique diversity of habitats, including the “Little Canaan” wetland complex. It also provides opportunities to intensively manage for species that require early successional habitat, including Ruffed Grouse, Golden-winged Warblers,…
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