|New Farm Bill Program to Restore Habitat for Cerulean, Golden-winged WarblersThanks to Senator Debbie Stabenow, other conservation leaders in the 113th Congress, and the Obama administration, the 2014 Farm Bill is delivering major new resources for an array of habitat restoration projects benefiting bird species of conservation concern, including Cerulean and Golden-winged Warblers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that 115 high-impact projects will receive $370 millionas part of the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). In addition, this first round of projects will leverage an estimated $400 million more in partner contributions to improve the nation’s water quality, support wildlife habitat, and enhance the environment. RCPP competitively awards funds to conservation projects, and the grants are just beginning. Over the life of the five-year 2014 Farm Bill, $1.2 billion in funding is slated for the program.
“This is an entirely new approach to conservation efforts; 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,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary. “These partnerships empower communities to set priorities and lead the way on conservation efforts important for their region.”
AMJV Partnership Receives $8 Million RCPP Award to Enhance Cerulean Habitat
The Cerulean Warbler Appalachian Forestland Enhancement project led by the Appalachian Mountain Joint Venture (AMJV) 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, AMJV Coordinator.
Partners contributing forest management, coordination, landowner enrollment, outreach, and other activities 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, MD Department of Natural Resources Forest Service, National Wild Turkey Federation, Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement, 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. For more information see http://amjv.org/index.php/news/520.
Forest Restoration Projects to Benefit Imperiled Golden-winged Warbler
Another of the RCPP projects will target improvements on approximately 64,000 acres of key habitat for the Golden-winged Warbler (GWWA) in the Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The GWWA has suffered one of the steepest population declines of any songbird species, with a decline of more than three percent annually over the last 40 years across its range.
“Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have the largest remaining breeding population of the GWWA, and habitat management actions there are considered critical to rebuilding populations rapidly,” said Dr. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy. “This is the poster-bird for recovery of complex early successional forest habitat.”
Across its breeding cycle, the GWWA needs forested landscapes varying in age from young regenerating stands to those with mature forest characteristics. Core habitat for the GWWA has been identified through the GWWA Working Group, a consortium of partners that has targeted focal areas for conservation and management using a series of GWWA Best Management Practices.
The project is expected to create new breeding habitat for 1,180 pairs of GWWAs and result in an increase of 16,000 individuals within four years. This will be achieved by providing technical support to private landowners whose properties lie within designated focal areas, helping them develop and implement conservation management plans for their properties. Similar to other NRCS programs, financial assistance will be available to qualifying landowners. Prescribed management practices may include aspen management, timber improvement, and shrubland restoration.
In addition to benefiting the GWWA, the conservation effort is expected to aid preservation of approximately 20 additional at-risk species such as American Woodcock, Ruffed Grouse, Black-billed Cuckoo, Moose, Canada Lynx, and Northern Long-eared Bat.
The project will be managed in partnership between NRCS and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and participating groups include: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge; Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Woodcock Minnesota; Beltrami County, MN; The Conservation Fund; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; U.S. Forest Service; Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest; Ruffed Grouse Society/The American Woodcock Society; Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association; Wisconsin County Forests Association; Wildlife Management Institute; The Forestland Group; Pheasants Forever; National Wild Turkey Federation; Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Louisiana-Pacific Corporation; Michigan Tech University; Indiana University of Pennsylvania Research Institute; Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
For more information see: http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/150114.html