Young Forest Conservation Phase II
$1,369,000 the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with the American Bird Conservancy to restore publicly owned, permanently protected forest lands for wildlife management purposes. A list of proposed forest land restorations must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Healthy populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species - All habitat restoration will be completed with Federal, State, Tribal and County partnerships with public land biologists and foresters. Upon completion of project acres, ABC has established a monitoring program to evaluate targeted species response. .
Restore 3,647 acres of public forest to help meet wildlife and recreational goals within six Minnesota conservation plans, leverage $500,000 from outside sources for forest restoration on private lands and keep Golden-winged Warbler off the ESA.
Over the years, forestland management has created forests with a limited age class distribution; dominated by trees of the same age. As a result, there has been a decline of many forest dependent wildlife species that require multiple age class forests throughout their annual life cycle. One of those species, the Golden-winged Warbler (GWWA) has suffered a precipitous population decline, falling 60% across its historic range since 1966. Due to this alarming decline, it is presently being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Minnesota is a key state for the conservation of this species as it holds the largest remaining breeding population of any US state or Canadian province. The GWWA is deemed a Species in Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in the Minnesota State Wildlife Action Plan and a Minnesota Stewardship Species by Minnesota Audubon. While the GWWA population in Minnesota is stable, maintaining and increasing this state’s population is critical to keeping the species off the endangered species list.
Recent research and field tests from scientists across several institutions has shown that to restore GWWA populations and other species dependent on young forest, we must modify or plan treatments of public forestlands to increase and maintain the quality of habitat, particularly the brushland-forest interface. The GWWA’s optimal breeding habitat is forest openings called young forest created through natural events such as fire or storm events within larger forested landscapes. Through years of applied conservation research and collaboration, biologists, foresters, wildlife managers and conservationists have succeeded in developing Young Forest Best Management Practices (BMPs) that effectively reproduce this critical stage of forest life. These BMPs result in habitat that is the most productive for wildlife specialists such as GWWA and American Woodcock and habitat generalists, such as Ruffed Grouse and White-tailed Deer.
American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and its many partners in Minnesota working on young forest are grateful to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) recommending critically needed funding in 2013 for Phase I of a determined effort to use these BMPs to optimize the productivity of MN forests to measurably increase GWWA populations – as well as populations of more than 20 other SGCN, game and non-game species – and to create greater recreational and economic benefits for Minnesotans to hunt and birdwatch. Many of these areas also fall within Important Bird Areas, a designation given to a handful of sites in Minnesota, by Minnesota Audubon, that are essential for birds and where immediate and long-term conservation action is needed. Thanks to the united efforts of ABC, State, Federal, and County natural resources managers we are on track to complete Phase I of this project by July 2016, having met or exceeded all prospective goals including leveraging more than $1 million from outside sources.
To meet the growing support from public and private land managers for this project, which was generated from Phase I, ABC respectfully requests support from LSOHC for Phase II of this project to:
1. Use Best Management Practices to restore and maintain an additional 3,647 acres of young forest on public lands. Minnesota continues to be on the vanguard of full life cycle forest wildlife management. This project provides important, additional resources needed to create and manage highly productive early successional forest habitat across Minnesota’s northern forested landscapes, integrates wildlife management strategies between county, state, and federal public land managers resulting in a healthy mix of dynamic forest age classes and forest types. With LSOHC funding from Phase I of this project, ABC has developed strong local working relationships in key focal areas including Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Chippewa National Forest, Red Lake Reservation, and Aitkin, Cass, Hubbard, and Beltrami Counties, that results in greater wildlife and recreational opportunities through increased collaboration and communication between adjacent land managers. We also have strong working relationships with eight MN DNR Area Wildlife offices. In addition, the high quality young forest being created or restored through this project matures into high performing mid-successional and ultimately mature forest for additional suites of Minnesota SGCN associated with those forest stages, making the LSOHC investment in this project extremely highly leveraged in terms of conservation outcomes and dollars spent for conservation.
2. Evaluate the impact of Best Management Practices (BMP) on targeted Golden-winged Warblers and other Minnesota Species of Greatest Conservation Need. ABC will use a standardized monitoring protocol to evaluate the use of the early successional forest created on public lands using LSOHC funding from Phase I, and from this proposed Phase II of the project. The results will be analyzed annually and shared with LSOHC, local public land managers, county, state and federal wildlife agencies.
To implement the same best management practices on private and corporate lands in Minnesota, ABC has secured more than $2,000,000 from non-state funding sources to leverage OHF funding because of the strong national and statewide interests in assisting Minnesota achieve its conservation goals. ABC will not using OHF funds for this activity. Our Indiana University of Pennsylvania contractor Dr. Jeff Larkin, is conducting the evaluation and monitoring using NFWF and CEPF funds.