The vast forested lands, grasslands and forb-rich landscape of the Appalachian Mountains was once considered a population stronghold for the golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera). Today, however, the population is at-risk for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
The most common explanations point to the loss and degradation of early successional habitat. Golden-winged warblers and many other species depend upon shrubby, idle vegetated areas like forest clear-cuts, alder swamps, utility rights-of way and other similar habitats for breeding. Several factors have contributed to the decline of these habitats including direct losses to development, re-forestation of farmland, fire suppression, and changes in agricultural and forestry practices.
The Appalachian region offers a tremendous opportunity to improve habitat for golden-winged warbler and other neotropical migratory birds. They provide structurally diverse vegetation for breeding and foraging, and offer the greatest opportunity to combat declines in golden-winged warbler.
Working Lands for Wildlife will assist private land owners create and maintain the habitat necessary to sustain breeding populations of golden-winged warbler within and adjacent to their current range. It focuses on the creation, management and maintenance of early successional habitat in close association with forested landscapes, or adjacent to active agriculture or pastureland. Conservation efforts in support of the golden-winged warbler will benefit several other species that depend on similar habitat.
Goals and Objectives
Working Lands for Wildlife will enable private landowners to create and enhance approximately 10,000 acres of early successional forest habitat over five years, precluding the need to federally list the golden-winged warbler.
- Restoration and maintenance of habitat supporting healthy, reproducing populations of golden-winged warbler in targeted areas in eight States.
- Increase cooperation with state wildlife agencies and bird conservation partnerships.
- Develop timber harvest technologies and forestry management strategies to support golden-winged warbler and other species sensitive to canopy closure.
Outcomes and Impacts
Working Lands for Wildlife will increase improve early successional habitat, decreasing habitat fragmentation and reducing isolation of golden-winged warbler populations. The result will be an expansion of Appalachian breeding habitat and an increase in reproducing golden-winged warbler populations, decreasing the potential for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
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