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Advances in First Year of $8 Million RCPP Award to Enhance Cerulean Habitat

Kicking off the RCPP award by hosting a Field Day for staff of partner organizations learning about reforestation process and target sites. Photo: Green Forests Work.

In January 2015, the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture (AMJV) received a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) award from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to enhance Cerulean Warbler habitat in the region. The five-year project allows partners to work with private landowners to implement active forest management using habitat management guidelines to improve 12,500 acres of forest habitat and 1,000 acres of reclaimed mine lands for Cerulean Warblers and other wildlife in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, and Maryland.

New staff positions in two states were filled to help implement contracts with private landowners and conduct critical…
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New Guide Helps Organizations Implement Farm Bill Conservation Programs

Working lands are vitally important to the conservation of soil, water, and fish and wildlife resources. Photo: NRCS

The North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) released the 2014 Farm Bill Field Guide to Fish and Wildlife Conservation earlier this year. This field guide is a tool to assist the staff of federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, nongovernmental conservation organizations, joint ventures, and other conservation partners in implementing Farm Bill conservation programs. It is primarily designed for those who work collaboratively with private landowners and agricultural producers to improve soil health, water quality, as well as fish and wildlife habitat.

The Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture (AMJV) helped prepare this guide due to the importance…
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Controlled Burns and Enhancing Capacity in the Central Appalachians

Prescribed burn in the Central Appalachians. Photo: Marek Smith.

Despite a wet start to the 2015 prescribed fire season in many parts of the region, the Central Appalachians Fire Learning Network (FLN) partners were able to burn nearly 8,700 acres in the Heart of the Appalachians (VA/WVA), 12,900 acres in the Keystone Appalachians (PA), and 6,200 acres in the Cumberland River (KY) landscapes this year. Achieving 28,000 acres of burns across the network can be attributed to the increased coordination among partners making the most of small burn windows.

Among the highlights was the 400-acre Summers Mountain burn in the Highland Wildlife Management Area in Highland…
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Enhancing Bird Habitat on Forests and Farms Workshop

The workshop included using grazing practices and mechanical methods to manage habitats for young forest species. Photo: U.S. Forest Service

In October 2015, partners held a three-day workshop focused on enhancing bird habitat through the use of common forest and agricultural management techniques in West Virginia. Given that bird species are declining across the region, it is critical to engage private landowners in bird-friendly land management that provides suitable landscapes. Many of the participants - which included over 60 land managers from four states and a variety of state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations - work regularly with private land owners and can share the knowledge gained at this workshop with them.

Day one focused on management…
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Appalachian LCC Conservation Planning and Design Effort

The initial conservation design identified connected and focal landscapes, critical corridors, and key areas likely to contain ecological significance. Map: AppLCC.

This past year saw the Cooperative take great strides in identifying and prioritizing discrete lands and waters important for sustaining functional ecosystems throughout the Appalachians. Using super-computing technology, researchers at Clemson University identified connected and focal landscapes, critical corridors, and key areas that are likely to contain larger ecological significance than their size would suggest. Combined, these identified lands and waters cover many critical ecological processes and patterns across our geography and provide a conservation planning and design framework. Clemson researchers and LCC staff are now refining the design framework through a series of workshops and consultations with technical experts…
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Continued Success Reforesting Surface Mined Lands in Coal Country

Students from North Carolina participate in Green Forests Work planting event at University of Kentucky’s Robinson Forest. Photo: Green Forests Work.

The 2015 planting season was Green Forests Work second most productive year. Nearly 620 acres were reforested with the help of almost 1,700 volunteers. Some of the year’s major accomplishments include:
  • University of Kentucky's Robinson Forest - GFW was proud to partner with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the US Forest Service – State and Private Forestry (USFS), and many others on the Appalachian Forest Renewal Initiative. This Initiative not only focuses on restoring forest habitat on mined lands across Appalachia, but it also seeks to improve avian habitat and water quality in new and mature…
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AMJV Supports Update of PIF Plan and State of North America’s Birds Report

The State of North America’s Birds Trinational Report will detail the status of birdlife throughout the continent. Map: NABCI.

In 2004, Partners in Flight produced the North American Landbird Conservation Plan, providing a continental synthesis of the priorities and tasks to guide landbird conservation to protect remaining populations and reverse long-term population declines. In 2015, natural resource and conservation partners – including the AMJV - came together to update this landmark plan, which includes revisions to both the methodology and resulting vulnerability scores of Species Assessment as well as publication of new and innovative products. Since the majority of the AMJV’s priority species are landbirds, the revision of this Plan will be a cornerstone to the ongoing AMJV prioritization…
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Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge became America’s 563rd Refuge

Celebration ceremony to mark the establishment of Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: USFWS

On April 22, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service accepted the donation of a conservation easement on a 39-acre Ashe County parcel from The Nature Conservancy, marking the establishment of Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge - the second Refuge in the Southern Appalachians. Mountain bogs are typically small and widely scattered across the landscape, often isolated from other wetlands. Important to wildlife and plants, mountain bogs are home to five endangered species – bog turtles, green pitcher plant, mountain sweet pitcher plant, swamp pink (a lily), and bunched arrowhead. They also provide habitat for migratory birds including Golden-winged Warblers,…
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Protecting and Managing Habitat in the Highlands of Roan

NC BRIDGE crew helping cut blackberry on Round Bald and Grassy Ridge in the Highlands of Roan. Photo: SAHC

In 2015, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) permanently protected, through purchase, 198 acres in Mitchell and Avery County, North Carolina, a part of our Highlands of Roan program. These two tracts will provide habitat for many priority forest birds including Wood Thrush, Canada Warbler, and Saw-whet Owl. They will also provide more than 30 acres of high elevation, young forest habitat for Golden-winged Warbler, Alder Flycatcher, and others. Other major SAHC accomplishments of the past year include:
  • Young Forest Habitat in Hampton Creek Cove - Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area in Carter County, TN is a "hotspot"…
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Colombian Corridor Aims to Help Cerulean Warbler

This Colombian corridor is providing critical winter habitat for the Cerulean Warbler. Photo: ProAves.

A conservation corridor in Colombia ten years in the making is now providing critical winter habitat for the Cerulean Warbler. Six miles long and a half-mile wide, the corridor is the result of a collaboration between American Bird Conservancy and two Colombian partners: Fundación ProAves, one of the country's leading conservation groups, and Fondo para la Acción Ambiental y la Niñez, an organization that focuses on community, youth, and environmental projects.

To create the corridor, 500,000 seedlings of 26 native trees — grown in nurseries at the nearby Cerulean Warbler and Pauxi Pauxi bird reserves — were…
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