Please welcome guest-blogger and Audubon North Carolina conservation biologist Aimee Tomcho. As part of the Putting Working Lands to Work initiative, Aimee is engaging landowners across Western North Carolina to develop and restore habitat for the Golden-winged Warbler. Check in on her progress.
The end of April marks the return of Golden-winged Warblers (GWWA) to their breeding grounds in Western North Carolina. This is an exciting and important time for Audubon NC, and our conservation efforts to protect this bird and its habitat.
In North Carolina, GWWA populations have declined an average of 10 percent every year for the past decade. Even more concerning, these warblers have seen a decline of nearly 98 percent in their entire Appalachian region breeding range.
Research suggests that the majority of golden-wings nesting in North Carolina travel from Colombia where they have spent their wintering months. Researchers have found that most return to the same territories year after year to raise their young.
We have found that much of our state’s Golden-winged Warbler breeding grounds are located on private lands. In order to expand suitable habitat for GWWA to breed, Audubon North Carolina is reaching out to the landowners who meet certain parameters, offering financial and technical land management support. To date, 86 landowners have responded to our outreach efforts, and most are in some stage of engagement with our team.
Although I am targeting private lands within North Carolina GWWA focal areas only, my communication with landowners has extended far beyond state lines. I’ve found many of the parcels targeted are owned by out-of-state residents, so our work has touched people as far away as Florida, Texas and even North Dakota!
Once I have engaged a landowner, I will identify the goals he or she has for the management of their property. The work is fulfilling on so many levels, and people are truly interested in the work we are doing on behalf of the golden-winged. I love to hear about the personal hopes they have for their land and how it intertwines with nature, and I feel genuinely welcomed into their lives in a small way. It’s wonderful to experience the human diversity, yet have the wellbeing of a warbler as our common goal.
As Aimee continues her work with private landowners, she hopes interest persists.
All of the financial assistance offered originates from outside agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service. In order for funding to remain available, consistent need for financial assistance has to be demonstrated or the monies may be directed to other projects. If you are interested in the work Aimee is doing, or if you think you may qualify for assistance, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.