Workshop on Creating Golden-Winged Warbler Habitat in NJ

By Bruce A. Scruton, New Jersey Herald

A workshop for owners of forestland in northwestern New Jersey will be held on Feb. 15 at the Sussex County Main Library in Frankford to outline programs by the U.S. Department of Agriculture designed to create habitat for endangered species.

golden-winged warbler

The population of the golden-winged warbler has declined by 66 percent over the last 50 years./USDA

Of particular concern is the golden-winged warbler, a small migratory bird that breeds in specific habitat and has seen its population decline by 66 percent since the 1960s, according to the department.

A species of concern to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which maintains the national threatened and endangered species lists, the warbler is at the center of other programs and what is known as the Young Forest Initiative.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service will conduct the program at the library, located at 125 Morris Turnpike, and outline the technical and financial assistance available to owners of forests.

The workshop will be 6-8 p.m.

One program available through the USDA is Working Lands for Wildlife, which works with foresters and helps write forest stewardship plans as well as provide conservation payments to support creation and enhancement of habitat for the bird as well as other species.

The Working Lands program is available to all of Sussex County, but focuses on the higher mountains and ridges on the county's eastern and western borders, including areas of eastern Passaic County.

The Young Forest Initiative, which is backed by the Department of Agriculture, Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, is also at the heart of the controversial forestry plan by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

That plan looks to create habitat suitable for the warbler as well as other species that like young forests.

However, it is being contested by other environmental groups, which say the plan would cause harm to the forests.

Some in the environmental community note that the warbler no longer breeds in parts of the New Jersey Highlands and along Kittatinny Mountain, even though its traditional breeding area has not changed.

The free workshop is sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, New Jersey Audubon and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Registration is encouraged and can be made by contacting Kelly Triece at 908-852-2576, ext. 7524; or at Kelly.triece@nj.usda.gov.