Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Birds, Forests and Partners OH MY!

When species populations start to decline to a concerning number it takes many
American woodcock (left) and golden-winged warbler (right)
are birds of high concern.
American woodcock courtesy of Steve Gifford.
Golden-winged warbler courtesy of Laura Gooch/Creative Commons.
conservation groups to pull their efforts together to ensure the long term viability of the species. In this case, the American woodcock and the golden-winged warbler are two species of concern. Regional Director Tom Melius has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians to enhance 12,000 acres of forest habitat on the Red Lake reservation that will benefit these two bird species as well as having benefits to a wide range of other game and nongame species. Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, along with several conservation partners including the American Bird Conservancy, will be collaborating with Red Lake Band’s Department of Natural Resource to ensure that the forest habitat will have nesting and brood rearing opportunities for these two species.

“The partnership between Red Lake and the Service will open the doors for future opportunities to collaborate and restore native species that will benefit everyone,” says Jay Huesby, Red Lake Nation Wildlife Director.

The Memorandum of Understanding will support management actions that will treat dense
Red Lake forest before habitat transformation.
old growth brushlands while retaining a mix of young and mature trees to better diversify the 12,000 acre forest. Habitats of diverse age are great for many species that depend on different forest habitats for shelter, food and development at different stages of their life cycles. The American woodcock and golden-winged warbler depend on young forests openings and diverse shrub layers to provide nesting opportunities. The North American Bird Conservation Initiative has ranked the American woodcock to be a priority species and will provide technical and grant support to this project.

“The golden-winged warbler utilizes both young and old forests for two different stages in life. The warbler will utilize the young forest to nest and rear its young while using older trees for claiming territory and foraging for food,” says Peter Dieser of the American Bird Conservancy.  “The overall population has declined by up to 60% in recent decades and Minnesota forests now support 45-50% of the remaining nesting population. The American Bird Conservancy is also working with partners in Central and South America to make sure that golden-winged warblers also have sufficient winter habitat as well.”

Red Lake forest after habitat transformation.Photos courtesy of Peter Dieser/American Bird Conservancy.
This Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by both government leaders and is the first of its kind between the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and the Service for early successional forest management. We are always committed to continuing our hand-in-hand partnership with federally recognized tribes to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats.