A federal bird restoration program revives barren, strip-mined lands in Appalachia

Do you own reclaimed strip-mined land that is flat, or gently rolling, on which you would like to plant trees? If the land is primarily covered with grass now, but you would like to plant it to native hardwood trees, then you might be eligible to receive financial assistance to help you do this through the Cerulean Warbler Mined-Land Initiative Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

The Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulean) is a migratory songbird that breeds in mature deciduous forests in eastern North America. Cerulean Warblers require heavily forested landscapes for nesting and brood rearing. Breeding primarily occurs on ridge tops and steep slopes within the species’ Appalachian breeding range. Cerulean Warblers are generally associated with oak-dominated forests that contain gaps in the forest canopy.

The loss of structurally complex forests has contributed to an average decline of 3.02 percent per year of Cerulean Warblers in the Appalachians from 1966-2012, making it one of the steepest rates of decline of all North American warblers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has designated the Cerulean Warbler as a species of national conservation concern.

In order to improve Cerulean Warbler habitat, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has approved a five-year Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project, the Cerulean Warbler Appalachian Forestland Enhancement Project, with the American Bird Conservancy, working with the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture.

The partnership will encourage natural resources conservation by providing technical and financial assistance to private, non-industrial forestland owners. Through this partnership, up to $8 Million will be invested in conservation efforts on privately owned lands throughout West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, and Maryland.

The current deadline for submitting applications for this program is February 17, 2017.

See NRCS website for Cerulean Warbler.

See NRCS Kentucky program website & photo credit.

See Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture web page on Cerulean Warbler program.

See Morgan County (Ohio) Herald article.

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