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News Release

WLFW | Kentucky NRCS



United States Department of Agriculture

Natural Resources Conservation Service

771 Corporate Drive Suite 210

Lexington, KY 40503

Phone: 859-224-7350




LEXINGTON, KY, March 23, 2012 - The U. S. Departments of Agriculture and Interior announced a new partnership to use innovative approaches with farmers and forest landowners to restore and protect the habitats for specific wildlife species. Working Lands for Wildlife, a national effort offered as part of the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), focuses conservation dollars and wildlife expertise on the recovery of certain at-risk, threatened or endangered wildlife species while also helping other vulnerable and game species that depend on similar habitat.  WHIP is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency of the U. S. Department of Agriculture.


Nationwide, seven species have been identified for the Working Lands for Wildlife.  In Kentucky, the Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) is the species of concern for parts of three Kentucky counties including: Bell, Harlan, and Letcher. The vast forested lands, grasslands, and forb-rich landscape of the Appalachian Mountains was once considered a population stronghold for the Golden-winged Warbler. Today, however, the population is listed as "threatened" according to the Kentucky State Heritage List. The Golden-winged Warbler populations have declined for the last 40 years.

The most common explanations of population declines point to the loss of breeding habitat due to forest maturation. The Golden-winged Warbler breeds in open-canopy shrublands interspersed with grassy or herbaceous vegetation patches, often including a forest edge.  In Kentucky, the conservation strategies are focused in the eastern Appalachia portions of the state that are largely mine reclamation sites above 2,500 feet elevation. The Appalachian region offers a tremendous opportunity to improve habitat for Golden-winged Warbler and other migratory birds. 

Working Lands for Wildlife will provide both technical and financial assistance to private land owners in the creation and maintenance of habitat necessary to sustain breeding populations of Golden-winged Warblers in their current range. It focuses on the creation, management and maintenance of early successional habitat in close association with forested landscapes.  "NRCS is excited to join with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, and other wildlife partners and land users to help provide an improved habitat that will increase the number of this threatened bird in Kentucky," said Karen Woodrich, State Conservationist. "An added bonus to improving the Golden-winged Warbler habitat is that this habitat is also desirable for deer, turkey, grouse, and other wild-game species."  A working group recently convened to share information and join forces on this important effort.  Included in the group were representatives from NRCS, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDRWR), the American Bird Conservancy - Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture, US Department of Interior - Office of Surface Mining Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI), Green Forests Work for Appalachia and the American Chestnut Foundation.



Interested producers and landowners in targeted areas can enroll in the WHIP on a continuous basis at their local NRCS field office. NRCS WHIP funds will share the cost of conservation practices with landowners in the identified Gold-winged Warbler area.



The Golden Winged Warbler is the species of concern for Bell, Harlan, and Letcher counties in KY. The focus area also includes parts of Georgia, West Virginia, New York North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. Applications within the priority habitat areas will receive highest consideration.





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