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Enhancing Bird Habitat on Forests and Farms WorkshopIn 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 of active pastures, old fields, and young forest habitat, with presentations on using grazing practices and mechanical methods to manage habitats for early successional species. Day two focused on using forest harvest techniques to enhance habitat for mature forest bird species, such as cerulean warblers. Day three included field trips to three locations: a Forest Service range allotment, which provides habitat for a variety of game species and sensitive non-game species; a state forest, where different harvest and stand improvement techniques were used to provide enhanced bird habitat while improving forest health; and a private farm, where the landowner’s stewardship has resulted in excellent old field, grassland and forest habitat for birds. In addition to providing examples of potential management techniques, the workshop provided information regarding financial incentives and programs available to landowners. Attendees had the option of receiving Society of American Foresters (SAF) Continuing Education Credits for each day of the workshop. The workshop also provided a template that the Forest Service plans to use, with location-specific modifications and partners, for additional management workshops across the Region, as additional funding becomes available. The forest management workshop grew out of the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration partnership, and exemplifies the purpose of improving the health and resiliency of ecosystems where public and private lands join.