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), Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today.
“Partners are seeing the value of conservation and investing in their future,” Vilsack said. “These partnerships are forging a new path for getting conservation on the ground and are providing opportunities for communities to have a voice and ownership in protecting and improving our natural resources. The Regional Conservation Partnership Program ushers in a new era of conservation, and we’re excited about the down-the-road benefits from this new Farm Bill program.”
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 NRCS Working Lands for Wildlife Program for Golden-winged Warblers, using the recently released Cerulean Warbler Habitat Management Guidelines to guide conservation practices in delineated focal areas. Conservation work will take place in the states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, and Maryland.
“This project will create a tremendous opportunity for our partnership to engage private landowners and promote contiguous areas of viable working forests to help ensure long-term conservation of Cerulean Warblers,” said Todd Fearer, Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture Coordinator. “Cerulean Warblers are one of our partnership’s highest priority species and approximately 75 percent of their distribution occurs on private land. Sustainable forestry practices on private lands can improve the habitat for Cerulean Warblers and multiple other game and non-game species, while enhancing forest health.”
The AMJV project was one of two selected in the state of West Virginia, along with a Comprehensive Watershed Conservation in Dairy and Livestock Landscapes of the Chesapeake Bay project that addresses water quality degradation and inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife in the Bay.
“Both projects demonstrate the strength of public-private partnerships and ability to deliver positive solutions to natural resource concerns in West Virginia,” said Kevin Wickey, NRCS State Conservationist. “With so many strong project proposals, the national project selection process was extremely competitive. West Virginia is very fortunate to have two proposals selected and hope for more in the future.”
A media event is scheduled at the State Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., on Friday, January 16 at 10:30 a.m. Representatives from NRCS, lead agencies for each selected project and state representatives will be present to answer questions. For more information visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/wv/home/.
Partners contributing forest management, coordination, landowner enrollment, outreach, and other acitivites for this project include: American Bird Conservancy, Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative/Green Forests Work, Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Research Institute, KY Department of Agriculture State Apiarist, KY Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, MD Department of Natural Resources Forest Service, National Wild Turkey Federation, Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement, Ohio Division of Forestry, PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry, PA Game Commission, The American Chestnut Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Kentucky, WV Division of Natural Resources, WV Division of Forestry, West Virginia University.