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AMJV Receives $8 Million RCPP Award to Enhance Cerulean Warbler Habitat

Cerulean Warbler; photo Frode Jacobsen.

A project proposal from the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture (AMJV) Partnership was one of 115 high-impact projects to receive in total more than $370 million as part of the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The Cerulean Warbler Appalachian Forestland Enhancement project will allow partners to work with private landowners to enhance 12,500 acres of forest habitat on private lands for Cerulean Warblers and other wildlife. Approximately 1,000 acres of reclaimed mine lands will also be restored using American Chestnut plantings.

The 5-year project will be modeled after the Natural Resources Conservation Service Working Lands for Wildlife program for Golden-winged Warblers, using the Cerulean Warbler Habitat…
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Birds and Burns in the Central Appalachians Fire Learning Network

Fireline patrol at the prescribed burn at Blue Suck Preserve; photo Sam Lindblom.

The Central Appalachians Fire Learning Network (FLN) partners burned over 36,000 acres in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania to meet objectives that benefit AMJV priorities. Burns were conducted on several new partner lands this year, including Douthat State Park in Virginia, New River Gorge National River in West Virginia, and Bethlehem (Water) Authority lands in Pennsylvania. Several large-scale burns were conducted over multiple days allowing for slow-paced and deliberate firing operations and longer resonance times on the landscape. The majority of these burns were implemented to benefit early successional/shrubland communities (American Woodcock, Golden-winged Warbler, Ruffed Grouse), mature hardwood/mixed forest communities (Cerulean
Warbler, Wood Thrush, Worm-eating Warbler) and open pine communities…
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Mapping Red Spruce Forest in the Southern Blue Ridge Ecoregion

Spruce restoration monitoring; photo NCWRC.

The Southern Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative (SASRI) is developing a restoration plan for Red Spruce in the Southern Blue Ridge ecoregion, an area covering 9.4 million acres including parts of
Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Except for several public land areas, the current extent and condition of red spruce stands in the region is not well documented. The development of an accurate and consistent map of red spruce on all public and private lands was identified as an important early step in the restoration planning process. In 2014, the Nature Conservancy supported a geospatial mapping project to complete this task. Imagery was collected by state…
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New Study Looks at Future of Appalachian Energy Development

The Appalachians are a landscape of high biological diversity and rich in energy resources; photo AppLCC.

A new study and online mapping tool released by the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and The Nature Conservancy provides needed information to inform discussions
among conservation organizations, policy makers, regulators, industry, and the public on how to protect essential natural resources while realizing the benefits of increased domestic energy production. The study and online mapping tool were developed by Nature Conservancy researchers through a grant from the Appalachian LCC. The research assessed energy development potential and trends of wind, shale gas, and coal and yielded a tool that shows where these may overlap with important natural resources and associated benefits, such as municipal drinking water supplies, giving a…
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Funding to Restore Forests on Degraded Mined Land Areas

Reforested lands; photo Green Forests Work.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the USDA Forest Service – State and Private Forestry (USFS) provided $678,000 in grants as part of the Appalachian Forest Renewal Initiative (AFRI) to support forest restoration on old, degraded mined lands at sites in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. State foresters from those states, or their designated partners, received grants through AFRI, a new partnership between NFWF and the USDA Forest Service. These six grants provide a 1:1 match in additional funds and in-kind support resulting in $1.35 million investment in forest restoration on priority sites for enhancement and protection of biodiversity. In 2015, two-three additional projects are now…
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CERW and Associated Species Response to Silvicultural Prescriptions

Cerulean silvercultural prescription sites; map by Todd Fearer.

A team of researchers is expanding on the Cerulean Warbler Management Guidelines for Enhancing Breeding Habitat in Appalachian Hardwood Forests by evaluating Cerulean Warbler response to a range of forest management treatments recommended by the guidelines. The goal is to recommend ways to improve or broaden the existing management guidelines for the Cerulean Warbler and associated bird species in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The current guidelines are based largely on applying forest management in a highly controlled, landscape-level experimental study that applied three levels of harvest (light, medium, and heavy) to isolated stands within mature forest. While informative, this approach is not typical of standard forest…
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Green Forests Work Makes Big Strides in Reforesting Mined Lands

Tree planting in Alabama; photo by Green Forests Work.

2014 was a record-breaking year for Green Forests Work (GFW). This non-profit, which re-establishes healthy and productive forests on formerly mined lands in Appalachia, planted 225,000 trees from northern Alabama to Central Pennsylvania. Nearly 2,000 volunteers and scores of mine operators, conservation and natural resource organizations, and school children dedicated their time and passion to assist in controlling exotic vegetation, planting hardwood trees, and performing follow-up evaluations.
  • GFW kicked off the planting season in Cullman County, Alabama. In partnership with Alabama Department of Labor Abandoned Mined Land Reclamation, Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, Green Industry Portal, and Drummound Coal, 6,783 trees were planted on a surface mine. This is…
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Land Managers Workshop Focuses on GWWA Best Management Practices

Landowners learned guidelines for developing Golden2winged Warbler habitat; photo by Becky Keller.

A two-day workshop sponsored by Audubon North Carolina and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation detailed guidelines for developing habitat for Golden-winged Warblers (GWWA) and other species associated with early successional forest. The Golden-winged Warbler Land Managers Workshop: Restoring Early Successional Habitat in the Southern Appalachians gathered 44 land managers from 24 organizations and 6 states to discuss the most recent biology and status of this priority species, forestry best management practices, stewardship programs and tools available for private landowners, and how to implement all components for efficient management. Field trips took place to demonstrate alternative management prescriptions during visits to sites in North Carolina and Tennessee. Along with Audubon and NFWF,…
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Study Compares GWWA Demographics among Created Habitat using NRCS Practices

Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate student banding fledgling Golden-winged Warbler; photo by R. Poole.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and its collaborators from University of Tennessee, West Virginia University, Appalachian State University, and North Carolina-Audubon completed a three-year study that evaluated Golden-winged Warbler (GWWA) demographics in habitats created using conservation practices of the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Working Lands For Wildlife (WLFW): Golden-winged Warbler Habitat Initiative. The project was funded through NRCS-Conservation Effects Assessment Project with additional funding provided by American Bird Conservancy and Pennsylvania Game Commission. The research team examined territory density, nest success, juvenile survival and movements, adult condition, and survival across 95 sites in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

An outcome of this work was the development…
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Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Grants Target AMJV Priority Species

Canada Warbler; photo by William Majoros.

Migratory birds throughout the Western Hemisphere - including some of the AMJV highest priority species - will benefit from $3.6 million in grants for collaborative conservation projects across the Americas. The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act grants will leverage the Service’s investment with nearly $12.1 million in additional private funds; a more than 3-to-1 match. The projects will conserve migratory bird habitat, stimulate critical research into declining bird populations, and strengthen international relations.

This year’s grants will benefit hundreds of species in 18 countries, conserving neotropical migratory birds from breeding sites in Canada and the United States to wintering sites in Mexico, Central and South America, and…
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