The Pennsylvania Golden-winged Warbler Habitat Initiative began in 2011 to enhance and create habitat for the Golden-winged Warbler, one of the Appalachian Mountain Joint Venture’s highest priority species. This partnership’s effort has resulted in 39,108 acres of potential Golden-winged Warbler breeding habitat on private and public lands. Partners of this initiative include the Pennsylvania Game Commission; USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service; Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources-Bureau of Forestry, USFWS-Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program; American Bird Conservancy; National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; Pheasants Forever; National Wild Turkey Federation; Wildlife Management Institute, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Research Institute.

During 2012 and 2013, this partnership reached out to over 6,500 private forest owners. Ultimately, this outreach and increased on-the-ground capacity resulted in 1,652 acres of Golden-winged Warbler breeding habitat being enrolled in Natural Resources Conservation Service-Working Lands for Wildlife in 2012, and 4,053 acres being enrolled in 2013. This allowed Pennsylvania to account for more than 81% of all Golden-winged Warbler breeding habitat acres enrolled across the nine Appalachian states eligible to participate in the WLFW program. In the first two years, this partnership has enrolled a total of 5,705 acres belonging to 122 private land owners.

From 2011-13, the partnership has accounted for over 32,000 acres of potential Golden-winged Warbler habitat on Pennsylvania’s public lands. These included areas managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (12,503 acres) and DCNR-Bureau of Forestry (20,900 acres). Additionally, the partnership created the first ever Golden-winged Warbler Cooperative Management Area, located in northeastern Pennsylvania. The Management area comprises 60% private lands and 40% public lands (State Game Lands and the Delaware State Forest). The partnership works closely with public land managers and private forest owners to demonstrate successful landscape-scale conservation implementation that transcends ownership boundaries.

For their innovative approach to protecting public and private lands for priority species we are honored to present the North American Migratory Bird Joint Venture Conservation Champion Award for a Regional Partnership to the Pennsylvania Golden-winged Warbler Habitat Initiative.

In the photo above, AMJV Coordinator Todd Fearer (right) presents the North American Migratory Bird Joint Venture Conservation Champion Award to Professor Jeff Larkin (left) of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania at the AMJV Technical Committee Meeting. The AMJV plans to present the JV Conservation Champion Award later in the year to the other agencies involved in this partnership.