WV DNR News Release
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Jim Justice, Governor
Stephen S. McDaniel, Director

News Release: November 14, 2017


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Media Contact: Samantha Smith 304-957-9364 Samantha.Smith@wv.gov

Contact:

Scott Warner, DNR Wildlife Resources Section, 304-558-2771, scott.a.warner@wv.gov

WVDNR seeks landowners interested in improving wildlife habitat

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, in partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, West Virginia Division of Forestry, National Wild Turkey Federation and others, is seeking private landowners interested in improving wildlife habitat on their land.

The partnership seeks to address shrinking populations of priority wildlife species by implementing conservation practices that improve natural resources on private land. Target species include cerulean warbler, golden-winged warbler, and multiple insect pollinators that have been identified as priority species in West Virginia’s State Wildlife Action Plan (available online at www.wvdnr.gov/Wildlife/Action_Plan.shtm). These species inhabit a variety of habitats, from meadows to shrubby thickets and groves of young saplings to mature forests, which are also preferred by species like ruffed grouse, whip-poor-will, white-tailed deer and wild turkey.

“More than 80 percent of land in West Virginia is privately owned and many wildlife species occur primarily on private land. So, public-private partnerships are critical for the long-term persistence of these populations,” said Paul Johansen, chief of the DNR Wildlife Resources Section. “Private landowners benefit from the technical and financial assistance to improve their land, which ultimately benefits many of the state’s priority species. It’s a ‘win-win’ for everyone.”

Professional biologists, foresters, and conservation planners are available to develop individualized conservation plans based on each landowner’s objectives and the identified needs of the land. Every conservation plan is unique but may include removing problematic plants, establishing desirable plants, thinning trees from overstocked forests, adjusting the type and timing of current management practices and creating natural structures such as brush piles where wildlife can nest, forage and take shelter.

Mature Forest

Cerulean warblers prefer mature deciduous forests with an abundance of large tall trees and small openings in the canopy that are filled with vigorous new plant growth. Most forests in West Virginia have large tall trees, but they often form a uniform and closed canopy. Thinning some undesirable trees will increase growing space for trees that wildlife prefers and also encourage development of multiple canopy layers able to support a greater abundance and diversity of wildlife.

Landowners interested in managing mature forest habitat may also notice more hooded warblers, ruffed grouse and wild turkey. For more information about mature forests or for help getting started, contact Steven Wilson, WVDNR/NRCS Partner Avian Biologist, at 304-618-6124 or steven.wilson2@wv.usda.gov, or Kyle Aldinger, NWTF Forest Enhancement Partnership Coordinator, at 304-284-7595 or kaldinger@nwtf.net.  

Young Forest

Golden-winged warblers prefer shrubby thickets and young forests near large patches of mature deciduous forest at higher elevations. The right combination of these characteristics is quite rare in West Virginia. Fortunately, some pieces of the preferred habitat often are already in place. So, it’s a matter of using management practices such as harvesting timber or controlling problematic plants to complete the puzzle.

Landowners interesting in managing young forest habitat may also notice more American woodcock, Eastern cottontail and whip-poor-will. For more information about young forests or for help getting started, contact Katie Loucks, WVDNR/NRCS Partner Avian Biologist, at 304-364-5103 extension 104 or catherine.loucks@wv.usda.gov.

Pollinators

Monarch butterflies and other pollinators are an integral part of our environment and are vital for our agricultural systems statewide. These insects can benefit from management just like other wildlife species. Pollinators and their habitats are incredibly diverse, so a variety of existing management practices can be tailored for their benefit.

For landowners interested specifically in pollinators, a conservation plan may include management practices such as removing problematic plants, enhancing nectar resources for bees and butterflies by planting species such as common milkweed, and providing nesting structures for bees. For more information about pollinators and for help getting started, contact Sarah Owen, WVDNR/NRCS Partner Pollinator Specialist, at 304-368-6909 or sarah.owen@wv.usda.gov.

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Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce. Help is available to private landowners who want help improving habitat for wildlife species such as ruffed grouse.
Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce. Help is available to private landowners who want help improving habitat for wildlife species such as ruffed grouse.