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Audubon North Carolina Achievements for Bird Conservation

Audubon NC’s Private Lands Biologist Aimee Tomcho; photo by Curtis Smalling.
Enrolling Landowners and Acres in Working Lands for Wildlife
Working with Natural Resources Conservation Service through a Conservation Partners grant, Audubon is working with 105 private landowners to increase enrollment of acres that can enhance habitat for Golden-winged Warblers for the Working Lands for Wildlife program. Site visits are underway with these landowners and staff is helping write management recommendations and conducting property evaluations to expedite entry into the program.

Earlier in the year, we began identifying landowners who might be eligible to enroll in the program.  For the initial sign up in late winter and spring of 2013, we enrolled seven projects totaling 145 acres.  A conservation biologist was then hired who began to identify new landowners and to complete a GIS based analysis of properties that would score high in the ranking and scoring matrix. This biologist also spent some time in the field with our research crew to learn as much as possible about the bird, its habitat preferences, and biology.  During the Summer, the biologist procured recent parcel data from each county, conducted the GIS based analysis, and prepared a letter that went out to landowners in ten counties who met the criteria.  We also prepared press announcements in those markets before the mailings to prep landowners that the mailing was coming and to educate the broader public about early successional and Golden-winged Warblers.  Overall, 1500 landowners representing some 65,000 acres of potential habitat received mailings. Of these, 105 landowners responded, which is a 7% return rate and similar to other efforts in other WLFW programs (PA, TN).  Audubon is working closely with state NRCS staff to complete the process and work flow for property owners.  Our site visits are often conducted in tandem with NRCS staff but we are also making first contact with many land owners to explain the program, stream line the process of enrollment, and gauge their interest prior to engaging NRCS staff.  We are also working closely with NRCS and other partners to host workshops for NRCS District Conservationists, county foresters, and agricultural extension specialists, as well as to conduct follow up mailings to increase our numbers.

Golden-winged Warbler Outreach
Audubon NC, PA, and MI received funding through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Keystone Program to conduct Golden-winged Warbler outreach work in 2012.  Since then, this grant has let us:
- Conduct five outreach meetings with landowners
- Work with four land trusts to identify potential landowners
- Coordinate with a variety of public agencies (national forest, state parks, state gamelands) on management planning for Golden-winged Warblers on parcels where birds occur or have occurred. This represents about 700 acres of projects that will be actively managed in 2014.
 
Providing International Support for Bird Conservation
Working with partners in Nicaragua, Aubudon supported international attendance at the Partners in Flight V meeting in Snowbird, Utah and remains involved in the post conference planning process.  Audubon is also continuing to support winter MoSI (Monitoreo de Sobrevivencia Invernal) efforts and other research in Nicaragua including sponsoring an Appalachian State University student to conduct surveys of areas undergoing reforestation in the country.