AMJV Fall 2022 Newsletter
Baby Wren Causes AMJV Communications Delays
This edition of the AMJV newsletter and the Fall AMJV Technical Digest were well on their way to being completed by their original deadlines, but Baby Wren decided to hatch about a week earlier than planned and delayed the completion of both documents. On behalf of Baby Wren, Jesse apologizes for the delays. Please enjoy this edition of the newsletter and stay tuned for the soon-to-be-circulated Fall AMJV Technical Digest, which includes a lot of great project updates from our partners!
Baby Wren arrived a week earlier than planned, causing delays in the completion of this newsletter and the AMJV Technical Digest.
State of the Birds Report Released!
The 2022 State of the Birds report
(SOTB) is now available! The report shows long-term downward trends for our nation’s birds that reveal a vital message: Birds are declining in every habitat except wetlands, where decades of investment have sparked dramatic gains. The comeback of waterfowl and waterbirds shows that conservation works when we give birds and nature a chance. Together, we can reverse bird declines!
AMJV Coordinator Todd Fearer recently discussed the 2022 SOTB Report and bird conservation in an interview with American Bird Conservancy and BirdWatching Magazine. Although the SOTB Report identifies grim trends in many bird populations, Todd shared hopeful news about how two of the species that have lost at least half of their breeding population in the last 50 years – the Cerulean Warbler and the Wood Thrush – are now showing increasing populations in some parts of their range. This is thanks, in part, to the conservation work of AMJV partners!
When asked what he hopes people take away from the SOTB, Todd responded, "We can do this! It’s easy to look at the trends of some of the species, especially the Tipping Point species, and become disheartened. But the point of this State of the Birds report is to highlight the successes that show we can turn things around and the opportunities we have now to make it happen..." Click here
to read the full interview.
Birds are declining in nearly every habitat. Graph above shows a 33% decline in shorebirds, a 5% decline in western forest birds, a 27% decline in eastern forest birds, and a 34% decline in grasslands birds. Graph from the 2022 State of the Birds Report.
Birds are declining in nearly every habitat...except in wetlands, where waterfowl and waterbirds made strong comebacks thanks to habitat investments. Graph shows a 35% increase in dabbling/diving ducks and an 18% increase in waterbirds. Graph from the 2022 State of the Birds Report.
AMJV Technical Committee Meets
The AMJV Technical Committee enjoyed a long-delayed in-person meeting this August in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Thanks to Rick Huffines and David Hanni we had an amazing hybrid (in-person and virtual) meeting at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute. We were able to experience a sampling of the many delights that can be found in the region, including checking out the beautiful Tennessee River Gorge Trust (TRGT). It was wonderful to hear about the many conservation efforts taking place across the Appalachians and to see both new and familiar faces again.
Thanks again to Rick and other TRGT staff who set the bar high for how to host a fantastic meeting! We were invited to meet at Powdermill Nature Reserve, Pennsylvania in 2023 and look forward to seeing everyone there!
Notes from the Field: Please enjoy this delightful educational video created by SELVA and partners about Golden-winged Warbler Conservation in Colombia. While the target audience is Colombians and other Spanish-speaking countries, you can turn on English subtitles under settings. Feel free to share this widely with interested partners.
The AMJV Technical Committee enjoyed a long-delayed in-person meeting this August in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Photo by Sadie Wren Keller
USDA Climate Smart Program Award Recipients
Across the United States, "USDA is investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding pool, which includes proposals seeking funds ranging from $5 million to $100 million." Details on individual projects are provided on the USDA website.
New Research Tool Available
The Literature Gateway, a research tool that allows users to visualize and explore a database of scientific research pertaining to bird species-vegetation relationships in the Eastern and Boreal Forests of North America, is now available. The aim of the Literature Gateway is to consolidate contemporary research on linkages between forest management practices, bird responses, and population outcomes. The tool focuses on research conducted in the Eastern US but includes research from across all of boreal North America. Access the Literature Gateway here
The Literature Gateway is a new research tool that allows users to visualize and explore a database of scientific research pertaining to bird species-vegetation relationships in the Eastern and Boreal Forests of North America.
Focus on Focal Landscapes: Greenbrier and High Alleghenies
Perhaps more than any other of AMJV’s focal landscapes, the Greenbrier and High Alleghenies Focal Landscape in eastern West Virginia highlights the important connections between the conservation and management of upland, aquatic, and even subterranean systems in a healthy and productive ecosystem. In addition to large blocks of forest hosting AMJV priority species such as Wood Thrush and Cerulean Warbler, the focal landscape has valuable aquatic resources such as the Greenbrier River, the longest undammed river in the Central Appalachians. According to the West Virginia State Wildlife Action Plan, the focal landscape hosts many rare aquatic species, including the regionally endemic New River Crayfish and Upland Burrowing Crayfish, Eastern Hellbender, and the federally-listed Virginia Spiraea and Candy Darter. Most notably, the focal landscape region is a globally significant karst landscape with more caves occurring in this region than anywhere else in West Virginia. Rare cave species in the region include the Greenbrier Valley Cave Pseudoscorpion, Organ Cave Pseudoscorpion, Greenbrier Cave Amphipod, and the world’s only known population of West Virginia Spring Salamander.
The map above shows the location of the Greenbrier and High Alleghenies Focal Landscape in eastern WV. Image courtesy of Amanda Duren, ABC/AMJV
Conserving a region with such a diversity of habitats and priority species requires engaging a diversity of local stakeholders in our work. To help with this process, the West Virginia State Wildlife Action Plan identifies specific regions called Conservation Focus Areas (CFAs) where Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) are concentrated, addressable threats are identified, and opportunities exist for focused actions. The AMJV focal landscape overlaps the Great Greenbrier and High Alleghenies CFAs. Last year, West Virginia Division of Wildlife Resources (WVDNR) and The Nature Conservancy worked with local stakeholders to develop plans for these CFAs targeting priority species with specific actions at a local level (available to view at: https://wvdnr.gov/state-wildlife-action-plan/).
Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, WV is located within the Greenbrier and High Alleghenies Focal Landscape. Photo by Amanda Duren, ABC/AMJV
In June, AMJV assisted WVDNR with the next step in the CFA planning process by hosting two stakeholder meetings for partners in the Greenbrier and High Alleghenies Focal Landscape aimed at encouraging collaboration among partners on the implementation of the actions presented in the CFA plan. The goal of the meetings, which were held in different regions of the focal landscape, was to establish a foundation for collaboration among stakeholders to implement, monitor, and evaluate the results of conservation actions outlined in Conservation Focus Area plans. Through a facilitated feedback process, stakeholders at the meetings identified the conservation actions from the CFA plan with the greatest capacity gaps. The AMJV is currently working with local partners to understand how these actions intersect with their priorities and will be developing a plan to advance each of the prioritized actions.
Breakout group during West Virginia CFA stakeholder meetings, June 29, 2022. Photo by Amanda Duren, ABC/AMJV
The addition of Liz Brewer to AMJV’s staff last fall as our Outreach Specialist based in West Virginia has greatly expanded our capacity to provide resources to land managers, foresters, and landowners managing forests to benefit birds and other wildlife. One example is the creation of a series of virtual field tours of "Private Lands Management in West Virginia" that focus on management practices and cost-share opportunities that private landowners across West Virginia can implement to create or improve wildlife habitat on their land. The first virtual field tour visits private landowners with active and completed projects managing for Golden-winged Warbler habitat in West Virginia. The tour shows images of managed areas that allow viewers to see the results of different management practices on the ground and how they benefit forest health and wildlife. The Golden-winged Warbler field tour is available at: https://arcg.is/1zqa8e.
AMJV is also working with WVDNR to update and re-design "West Virginia Forest Songbird Management Guidelines," a guide that was originally published by the agency in 2006. A new version of this guide aimed at foresters and private forest landowners will incorporate the latest research and integrate management strategies for multiple target species. A draft outline for the new guide was completed and has been reviewed by local agency and consulting foresters to gather feedback on how to create a document that is both clear and useful to the target audience.
Partner Spotlight: West Virginia Department of Natural Resources
Our AMJV partners are the backbone of bird conservation and healthy forest restoration throughout our region. To highlight some of the wonderful work they do, we will be spotlighting partners throughout the year, beginning with partners who work within our focal landscapes.
Over 60 percent of forests in the nation are privately owned, which means that partnering with private landowners to improve habitat is a necessity and offers substantial opportunities to positively impact native wildlife populations. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has long recognized the value and importance of engaging private landowners in the conservation of priority wildlife species, and Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture’s close partnership with WVDNR enhances our ability to connect with private landowners.
To build the capacity for private lands conservation in West Virginia, WVDNR has partnered with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to support the hiring of five partner biologists, including two pollinator specialists and three avian biologists. These partner biologists have helped enroll private landowners into Farm Bill funding opportunities to improve forest habitat across the state for pollinators, Cerulean Warbler, and Golden-winged Warbler. Significant growth in acres managed has been seen since the programs’ inception. The initiatives have contracted 1,568 acres of private lands to improve young forest habitat for Golden-winged Warbler and 1,989 acres of private lands to improve mature forest habitat for Cerulean Warbler. While pollinators frequently benefit from the habitat work in each of these projects, the pollinator specialists have additionally contracted 226 acres to create pollinator plantings on private lands across the state.
Golden-winged Warbler Partner Biologist, Tiffany Beachy, speaks with two landowners about creating young forest on their property. Photo by Liz Brewer, ABC/AMJV
WVDNR is also directly protecting private lands through their aptly named Private Lands Protection Initiative. They have partnered with WV Land Trust Conservation Program to identify priority areas for protection. The program has many methods to conserve critical habitat, from working with private landowners to implement conservation easements to acquiring land that will be monitored and managed by WVDNR. In the WV focal area, an important focus of the initiative is the Cave Protection Program: WVDNR acquired two caves this year, one of which is located in AMJV’s focal area. The largest has 4.5 miles of passage!
The strong partnerships that WVDNR has cultivated have helped build a robust and successful private lands conservation program in AMJV’s West Virginia and Alleghenies Focal Landscape. They’ve improved over 3,700 acres of private lands in coordination with NRCS and continue to develop new, innovative ways to approach the unique challenges of private lands conservation.
Landowner Highlight: Weyerhaeuser
Sustainable forestry that supports at-risk species and protects the ecosystem is at the heart of AMJV’s work. It’s also what guides Weyerhaeuser’s forestry practices as they manage the 250,000 acres of forest under their ownership within our Greenbrier and High Alleghenies Focal Landscape in West Virginia. Weyerhaeuser is a private, commercial landowner known for supplying the public with wood products including lumber, plywood, and OSB panels. They manage their forests on a continuous and fully sustainable cycle that ensures they are responsible stewards of their land for multiple uses, including recreation, economic development, renewable energy, and conservation.
In the focal landscape, Weyerhaeuser is helping to conserve birds and their habitats in two critical ways: forest management and songbird monitoring. Weyerhaeuser is working with AMJV, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, West Virginia DNR, and West Virginia University to look at ways they can alter their management to create even better habitat for birds. Their commitment to improving habitat in their woodlands will help create the mix of habitats that birds and other wildlife need throughout their entire life cycle!
A view of Weyerhaeuser’s forests in West Virginia. Photo by Kyle Aldinger, USDA NRCS
Weyerhaeuser’s participation in songbird monitoring helps project partners track how birds benefit from sustainable forest management. They have offered researchers access to put autonomous recording units, devices that record the songs of birds for researchers to later analyze, around different sections of their forests. They’ve also provided field tours and harvest data to researchers and provided funding for research equipment.
Weyerhaeuser hosted several of their partners for a field day in 2018. Photo by Kyle Aldinger, USDA NRCS
To increase the impact of their stewardship, Weyerhaeuser collaborates with partners to protect declining species and habitats through The National Alliance of Forest Owners’ Wildlife Conservation Initiative (WCI). The Wildlife Conservation Initiative brings together partners to address conservation on private lands. AMJV collaborated with WCI partners on the development of a native plant seed mix that Weyerhaeuser and other NAFO members could use in reseeding logging roads and landings to benefit pollinators and bird species of conservation concern such as the Golden-winged Warbler. Weyerhaeuser’s conservation-focused approach to supplying people with the wood products they need is exactly what makes them a wonderful commercial landowner for AMJV to collaborate with!
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 AMJV Fall Management Board Meeting
will take place on November 29 - December 1, 2022
in Blacksburg, VA
(in-person with a virtual option; 1st day for travel, 2nd day full-day meeting, 3rd day half-day meeting and travel home). Contact Todd Fearer at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information.
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. Please visit the NEAFWA website
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!