FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 26, 2021
Blacksburg, Va. — An Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture (AMJV) Partnership proposal was selected as one of 12 projects receiving more than $1.9 million in National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grants to restore forest and freshwater habitat in central Appalachia.
The three-year project funded through the Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program will focus on improving habitat in Virginia for three species of migratory songbirds with drastically declining populations: golden-winged warbler, cerulean warbler, and wood thrush. Project partners will collaborate to produce comprehensive forest management plans for more than 5,000 acres and active forest management on 130 acres of public and private land in Bath and Rockbridge counties. The AMJV partnership will also conduct bird surveys within the project areas to monitor bird population responses to management activities and will produce a management guide and training workshop for forestry professionals on enhancing wildlife habitat in oak-hickory forests.
“NFWF started the Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program in 2017, and it provides an excellent opportunity for our partners to secure resources for advancing work on the ground towards AMJV priorities,” said Todd Fearer, coordinator for the AMJV. “It has enhanced and strengthened our relationship with NFWF and facilitated greater alignment of their Central Appalachia Program with our AMJV priorities.”
Partners contributing forest management, coordination, landowner outreach, practitioner training and other activities for this project include the American Bird Conservancy, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Appalachian Laboratory (UMCES), The Nature Conservancy in Virginia, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and USDA Forest Service.
“This new initiative will expand ongoing efforts of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and our partners in implementing on-the-ground habitat work and help affect positive change for wildlife and habitat at a landscape scale,” said Virginia DWR Executive Director, Ryan Brown.
The project area is part of the AMJV Virginia Highlands Focal Landscape, an area identified by AMJV partners as being of high importance to this project’s priority bird species and other wildlife, including timber rattlesnake, rusty patched bumble bee, Allegheny woodrat and eastern spotted skunk.
“Most of the golden-winged warbler’s nesting habitat falls on private lands, including Appalachia, where 80 percent of forested acres are privately owned,” said Virginia NRCS State Conservationist Dr. Edwin Martinez Martinez. “Helping landowners improve the health and diversity of their forests is the key to protecting this and other at-risk species. We look forward to expanding partnerships strengthened through our Working Lands for Wildlife initiative in this latest collaborative conservation effort.”
“This project is part of a broader effort across the Central Appalachian region to improve habitat for declining migratory songbird species,” said Emily Cohen, Assistant Professor at UMCES Appalachian Laboratory. “Together with projects in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, we will be pairing new technologies, automated audio recording units, with more traditional bird monitoring techniques to assess the responses of bird populations to forest management activities.”
The Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program is a partnership initiative involving the NRCS, the USDA Forest Service, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Shell Oil Company and the Richard King Mellon Foundation in western Pennsylvania.
To learn more about the Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program, please follow this link to view a short video.
Media Contact: Jesse Wise, Communications Specialist (firstname.lastname@example.org)
AMJV Contact: Amanda Duren, Habitat Delivery Coordinator (email@example.com)
NRCS Contact: Chris Peters, VA Golden-winged Warbler Working Lands for Wildlife Coordinator (Christopher.Peters@usda.gov)