Working Lands

Landowners Meet For the Golden-wings

Please welcome 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.

This month, land managers from six states came together to learn about the conservation efforts for the Golden-winged Warbler (GWWA) with a special workshop organized by Audubon North Carolina’s Working Lands initiative. For the last decade, Audubon NC has been a leader in the conservation of the Golden-winged and the GWW working group. We are excited to have brought together 24 organizations to continue these efforts during the two-day workshop.

Grassy Ridge in Avery County, NC

Conservation for Golden-wings

ANC hosted the group of 44 land managers at Roan Mountain State Park in Tennessee, where they discussed the GWWA’s biology, monitoring efforts and young forest management strategies. We wanted to “train the trainers” about habitat prescriptions for the GWWA and other early successional habitat specialists.

Best management practices were recently developed for the six specific habitats in the Southern Appalachians. These practices will best sustain the needs of the early successional forest habitat types, which are important to species like the GWWA.

Stephen Thomas of NCWRC discusses the Wildlife Conservation Lands Program.

Western North Carolina’s mountains represent a critical area for management due to the narrow range of suitable habitat and the southernmost range of the GWWA in the region. Conservation organizations are currently working together to map out landscape-level plans to best accommodate the GWW’s dwindling population.

The Workshop

The two-day workshop strengthened relationships through shared meals, overnight accommodations and fieldwork.

Curtis Smalling of Audubon NC points out suitable habitat at Hampton Creek Cove TN Natural Area.

During the first day, seven presenters led the group through a series of talks beginning with the unique biology of the GWWA and its current population trends. They also discussed recommended land management guidelines and specific tools landowners could employ to assist in creating and restoring an early successional mosaic across our landscape.

The group set out the morning of the second day to visit early successional habitat sites that currently support GWWA. They also visited locations in need of additional management. The distinctive landscape of the Roan Highlands was explored on both the Tennessee and North Carolina sides, from “lower” elevations of 3,100 feet in grazed fields to higher elevations on mountain balds at 6,165 feet.

All in all, the weather was beautiful and a good time was had by all!

The presence of many organizations at the workshop developed and strengthened local and regional partnerships. Audubon NC was supported by 13 cooperators, most notably Appalachian Mountain Joint Venture and National Wild Turkey Federation. Other organizations included the University of Tennessee, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Tennessee Natural Areas, NC Forest Service, US Forest Service, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, American Bird Conservancy and Apple Mountain Demonstration Forest.

The group gathers atop Grassy Ridge.

A grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation served as the initial funding that made this workshop possible.

For more information about GWW best management practices in the Southern Appalachians, contact Aimee Tomcho at

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