In this edition of the AMJV Newsletter, you'll find updates from our AMJV Focal Landscapes and information about upcoming meetings!


AMJV Winter 2022 Newsletter


AMJV Updates 

Funding Awarded for Cerulean Warbler Integration Population Model Development

AMJV partners, working with the Cerulean Warbler Technical Group, were able to secure three years of funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)/U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Science Support Program to identify critical demographic information gaps and to develop a full annual cycle integrated population model for the Cerulean Warbler. Dr. Elizabeth Hunter (USGS Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Virginia Tech) and Randy Dettmers (USFWS) are leads on this project. Additional partners include the AMJV/ABC, WVDNR, SELVA, Birds Canada, and Arkansas State University. Cerulean Warblers have exhibited multi-decadal scale declines in abundance, causing concern for their long-term persistence. Threats to the species occur across their annual cycle, from inadequate forest structure in their breeding habitat to declining mid-elevation forested habitat in their wintering grounds as well as diminished habitat in stopover habitats in between. This project will develop an integrated population model to better estimate the relative role different stages of the annual cycle play in determining species status and trends. The model also will be used to identify population-specific data gaps in Cerulean Warbler demographic rates across the full annual cycle to prioritize future data collection on demographic parameters that exert the greatest influence on population growth rates. Work on the project will begin in 2023.

Male Cerulean Warbler. Cerulean Warblers have exhibited multi-decadal scale declines in abundance, causing concern for their long-term persistence. Partners are working together to identify critical demographic information gaps and to develop a full annual cycle integrated population model for this species. Photo by Bruce Beehler and courtesy of ABC

AMJV Board Meets

On November 30th & December 1st, the AMJV Board members, staff, and guests met in person for the first time in over 3 years.  Sixteen attendees gathered together in Blacksburg, VA, while 17 additional attendees joined the meeting virtually. AMJV staff and partners provided updates from the Focal Landscape Initiative and Science and Technical Committee, and they also shared information about the AMJV Monitoring Network and MOTUS. The group reviewed and approved the AMJV budget and discussed revisions and implementation of State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs); the development process of AMJV’s next 5-year strategic plan; and how Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) work is included in AMJV’s work around the region. Staff from the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI) and the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) provided an overview of their programs along with efforts and opportunities for partnership involvement within the AMJV region, and staff from the American Forest Foundation (AFF) gave a presentation about the AFF/TNC Family Forest Carbon Program.

Focus on Focal Landscapes: Regional Highlights

Allegheny Highlands (PA/NY)

First Focal Landscape Partnership Workshop Held

AMJV hosted the first partnership workshop for this focal landscape in Bradford, PA on November 8th with the goal of identifying shared conservation challenges and priorities to advance cohesive, landscape-scale planning and management. In partnership with Audubon Mid-Atlantic and Audubon New York, we drafted a list of invitees comprised of local land managers, foresters, biologists, forest industry professionals, and other stakeholders with the expertise and vision to help us in building a coalition around the new BirdScape.

Allegheny Highlands Partnership Meeting in Bradford, PA. Photo courtesy of Amanda Duren, AMJV/ABC

The meeting was attended by 24 individuals representing 12 organizations, including Audubon Mid-Atlantic, Audubon New York, Forecon, Domtar, Ruffed Grouse Society, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, PA Game Commission, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and USDA-NRCS (PA and New York offices). Through breakout sessions, case study presentations, and a structured discussion, the group shared individual priorities for work in the region, the challenges they face in that work, and the tools, resources, and partnerships they’d like to have to help overcome those challenges. Meeting notes with next steps for supporting the development of requested tools and resources will be available soon.
Funding support for the meeting was provided by Sarah K. de Coizart Article TENTH Perpetual Charitable Trust.

Southeastern Ohio

AMJV Continues Collaboration with Ohio Interagency Forestry Team

The purpose of the Ohio Interagency Forestry Team is to improve internal agency coordination around the delivery of government services in support of forest management. The Forestry Team is currently focusing its efforts on restoring oak-dominated forests across a 17-county area in southeastern Ohio overlapping the AMJV Focal Landscape, where 43% of the state’s forest resource exists. While the Forestry Team has been largely focused on improving internal agency coordination, Jarel Bartig, Ohio Interagency Liason, has invited AMJV to be the first external partner organization to participate in the Forestry Team's working groups as they become established. To support this collaboration, AMJV updated our Ohio Focal Landscape Fact Sheet to better reflect the alignment of the Forestry Team objectives and the Focal Landscape Initiative.

This fall, AMJV attended a meeting of the Hocking Plateau Shared Stewardship Project and agreed to assist with the development of a template for a project communication plan. The creation of individual focal landscape communication plans has been a long-standing goal of the AMJV, and in collaborating with the Forestry Team on a plan for the Hocking Plateau Project, we hope to develop a communication plan template that can be used to create similar plans across other focal landscapes as well.
The AMJV works with the Ohio Interagency Forestry Team to improve internal agency coordination around the delivery of government services in support of forest management in the Southeastern Ohio Focal Landscape. 

Greenbrier and High Alleghenies (WV)

Stakeholder Meetings Held in Two Conservation Focus Areas
AMJV assisted West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) with the planning and facilitation of two stakeholder meetings for partners in the Greenbrier and Alleghenies Focal Landscape in June 2022. The goal of the meetings was to establish a foundation for collaboration among stakeholders to implement, monitor, and evaluate the results of conservation actions outlined in Conservation Focus Area (CFA) plans that have been developed by WVDNR as part of their State Wildlife Action Plan process. The meetings were attended by representatives from more than a dozen organizations, including NRCS, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and US Forest Service. Through breakout sessions and group discussions, the meeting attendees identified and prioritized the conservation actions from the CFA plan with the greatest capacity gaps. AMJV is currently working on a plan to work with partners to increase capacity in the focal landscape to accomplish the highest priority conservation actions.

In addition to priority bird species, WVDNR is leading conservation efforts for other species of concern within the focal landscape, including bats, James River Spinymussel, and Candy Darter (pictured above). These efforts include research and acquisition and protection of key habitats. Photo by Noel Burkhead, USGS
Outreach Campaign Targeting Family Forest Landowners
In partnership with Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Weyerhaeuser, and West Virginia USDA-NRCS as part of a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded in 2020, AMJV recently launched an outreach campaign in Fayette, Greenbrier, and Nicholas counties. After a low response rate to a spring mailing to 250 family forest owners, a second direct mailing campaign in the summer was sent to 1,000 private landowners inviting them to seek assistance to create a conservation plan for their forests. West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (WVDNR) also did a press release to announce the mailing and increase awareness of the funding opportunity for forest landowners. As a result of the mailing, 33 landowners have contacted a partner biologist to learn more about financial/technical assistance.
An additional outreach mailing was conducted in northern WV in coordination with the WVDNR Avian Partner Biologist. More than 1,200 private landowners were reached through a direct mailing and accompanying WVDNR press release. So far, the Partner Biologist has received 22 responses from private landowners seeking conservation plans.

Private family forest owners are instrumental to the success of on-the-ground conservation programs. John Cobb, a WV landowner, is a prime example of the difference that one landowner can make. He is pictured above receiving the 2019 Tree Farmer of the Year Award from US Senator for West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito. John has done (and is still doing!) remarkable conservation work for birds and healthy forests over the years. His work alone includes completing 11 NRCS projects in 7 years; hosting conservation tours for agencies; and spreading the word about conservation programs by being featured in agency publications and TV spots, face-to-face word of mouth with neighbors, and four meetings with WV senators (three in person and one via Zoom). Photo courtesy of John Cobb

Virginia Highlands
AMJV and Virginia USDA-NRCS Host Forestry Training and Technical Service Provider Registration Event
As part of AMJV/American Bird Conservancy's (ABC's) 2020 National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program grant, AMJV and Virginia Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) hosted a training event for foresters in Charlottesville, Virginia on October 27th, 2022. The training was aimed at public and private sector foresters, including those registered as or seeking to become NRCS Technical Service Providers. Illustrated through a virtual field tour on a real landowner’s property, the training offered real-world examples of how multi-species best management practices (BMPs) can be incorporated into forest management planning to meet landowner objectives. We also explored steps to reduce the loss of carbon held in the soil into the atmosphere through forest management activities. In an optional afternoon session, participants had the opportunity to receive step-by-step guidance on becoming or renewing their registration as a Technical Service Provider for NRCS in Virginia.

AMJV and Virginia Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) hosted a training event for public and private sector foresters in Charlottesville, Virginia on October 27th, 2022. The training focused on multi-species best management practices in forest management.

Second Season of Bird Monitoring Completed

As part of AMJV/American Bird Conservancy's (ABC's) 2020 National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program grant, Dr. Emily Cohen (University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Appalachian Laboratory) conducted surveys from 17 May to 06 Jun 2022, coinciding with the early breeding season for songbirds in the central Appalachian region. The study included 209 point counts at 105 sampling locations and deployed 105 autonomous recording units (ARUs). Point counts detected two focal species, Wood Thrush and Cerulean Warbler. No Golden-winged Warblers or Vermivora hybrids were detected, though one was observed outside the sampling period at a TNC sampling plot on Warm Springs Mountain that was burned in 2022.

Wood Thrush (pictured above) was one of the two AMJV focal species spotted in the highlands of Virginia during a recent bird monitoring study. Photo by Larry Master and courtesy of American Bird Conservancy

Cumberlands (KY/TN)

AMJV Assists with Outreach to Private Forest Landowners
AMJV is a partner in two projects within the Cumberlands Focal Landscape led by Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS), one funded by the US Forest Service's Landscape Scale Restoration (LSR) Program, and the other by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund. Through the grants, project partners will enhance more than 2000 acres of public and private forests to benefit Species of Greatest Conservation Need. To support the private land management goals, AMJV Outreach Specialist Liz Brewer led the development of an outreach plan for the projects. The plan included a GIS analysis to prioritize outreach efforts based on landowner proximity to focal bird detections. Liz also drafted the outreach letter and an accompanying blog post. Ben Rhodes, the new RGS wildlife forester, is currently working on sending letters out to Kentucky landowners, and the TN mailing will go out in December after the RGS Tennessee wildlife forester is hired.

Swainson's Warbler in pines. Swainson's Warbler is one of the priority species for work in the Cumberlands Focal Landscape. Photo by Greg Lavaty and courtesy of American Bird Conservancy

Southern Appalachian High Country (NC/TN/VA)

Dynamic Forest Block Plan Development Underway
In collaboration with Ruffed Grouse Society, AMJV is leading the development of a forest management plan for the newly created Southwest Virginia Dynamic Forest Restoration Block, the first DFRB within this focal landscape. The block is anchored by Channels State Forest, Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area (WMA), and Clinch Mountain WMA. The plan will present current and desired future conditions for forests within the block, but will also include a forest carbon assessment. Led by TerraCarbon, the assessment will offer carbon storage scenarios for the forest under different management objectives. 

The plan for the new Dynamic Forest Restoration Block will include a forest carbon assessment. The above image (part of a series of graphics designed by Amanda Duren, AMJV/ABC) and further information about carbon as it relates to forest management can be found in the AMJV Outreach Toolkit on our website.
Listening Session Scheduled to Engage with New Audiences 
In an effort to broaden the scope of conservation activities occurring in this region, AMJV is planning a series of listening sessions focused on building partnerships with new audiences, including local business owners, government officials, and the indigenous community. The first listening session with stewardship staff of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) will occur in early 2023. The objective of the listening session is to learn about stewardship activities EBCI is conducting on their land and about interests or needs related to conservation. Identifying these interests and needs will set the stage for future collaboration with the Focal Landscape group and foster active participation by the EBCI in landscape-level planning and coordination.

Mingo Falls in NC lies within the boundaries of the land stewarded by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). AMJV is planning a listening session with the EBCI in early 2023 to learn about stewardship activities that they are conducting on their land, which is adjacent to AMJV's Southern Appalachian High Country Focal Landscape. AMJV treats each focal landscape as a holistic system and leans heavily on partners to identify the overarching objectives for each landscape, including priorities that are not bird-centric, such as water quality, forest health, and management of other wildlife. Photo by Jesse Wise, AMJV/ABC

Funding Opportunities

The AMJV team posts upcoming funding opportunities (and more!) on our Slack Workspace as we learn of them. To stay up-to-date and/or to share funding opportunities that you might hear of with us and other AMJV partners, please join our AMJV Slack Workspace and follow the #funding-opportunities channel!


Save the Date: Upcoming Meetings, Workshops, and Webinars

The Eastern Working Group of Partners in Flight Confluence will occur January 10 - 12, 2023 in Nashville, TN. This will be a working meeting with the bulk of our time devoted to advancing the ongoing work of existing EWG teams and species-specific working groups. Anyone interested in “keeping common birds common and helping species at risk” is welcome to attend. Click here to learn more and to RSVP.
The 78th Annual Northeast Fish & Wildlife Conference - which attracts over 500 natural resources professionals in the fields of wildlife biology, fisheries and fisheries management, outreach and education, and law enforcement - will be held on April 30 - May 2, 2023 at Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA. The event will provide opportunities for education, discussion, and exchanging of ideas. Highlights include a Plenary Session & Awards Ceremony, Concurrent Technical Sessions & Special Symposia, Poster Session, as well as Social & Networking Events. The call for abstracts is now open (until January 16th), and contributed papers and posters are being solicited. Please visit the NEAFWA website for more details and updates!

The Pathways: Managing Wildlife in an Era of Mutualism Conference will be held May 31 - June 3, 2023 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. Pathways: Human Dimensions of Wildlife is a conference and training program designed to address the myriad issues that arise as people and wildlife struggle to coexist in a sustainable and healthy manner. Click here to learn more and to RSVP.

The AMJV team posts upcoming meetings (and more!) on our Slack Workspace as we learn of them. To stay up-to-date and/or to share upcoming meeting details that you might hear of with us and other AMJV partners, please join our AMJV Slack Workspace and follow the #upcoming-meetings channel!  


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Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture 

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