Wisconsin Young Forest Partnership
Making Habitat on a Landscape Scale
Create fresh habitat for woodcock and golden-winged warblers, and more than 60 species of wildlife will quickly benefit. That’s the concept guiding the Wisconsin Young Forest Partnership (WYFP), in which federal and state agencies, wildlife and forestry organizations, timber companies, and private landowners have joined forces to bring more young forest to the Badger State.
Wildlife scientists note that golden-winged warbler and American woodcock numbers have dropped by more than 50 percent across those species’ ranges in recent decades. Conservationists estimate that nearly a million acres of new young forest is needed in Wisconsin alone to restore populations of those two birds to 1970s levels.
Other wild animals whose numbers have also been falling share the same dense habitat: birds like alder flycatchers, white-throated sparrows, American redstarts, and whip-poor-wills; mammals such as moose, snowshoe hares, bobcats, and Canada lynx; and reptiles like the eastern massasauga, black racer, and wood turtle. More common wildlife, such as black bears, whitetail deer, wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, and a host of songbirds also home in on the enhanced food and cover that young forest offers. Songbirds that breed in mature woods take their newly fledged young to feed on the insects and fruits produced abundantly in young forest, where the thick habitat protects the inexperienced youngsters from predators as they grow and develop. And during the fall migration, birds of many species drop in to fuel up on fruits and seeds.
Educating and Engaging Landowners
"This is not an effort to cut old growth forest or to convert stands of northern hardwood to faster-growing aspen with an eye toward creating forest products," says Amber Roth, a habitat biologist with the Golden-Winged Warbler Working Group and the Wildlife Management Institute.
"Instead, our goal is to educate and engage landowners who are not currently managing their forested lands, so that they’ll consider all of their management options and, we hope, decide to make and enhance young forest for wildlife in appropriate places."
WYFP partners agree to "identify, promote, and deliver conservation programs that assist landowners with land management through the use of combined resources between agencies, organizations and companies." That kind of cooperation will pay dividends for the wild creatures that depend on young forest, also known as "early successional habitat."
Says Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources biologist Jeremy Holtz, "By pooling agency and partner resources and conducting this effort in a structured way, we can do landscape-scale habitat work while helping local economies through sustainable timber harvesting. Correctly planned and carried out, young forest projects boost outdoor recreation, as folks have more and better opportunities to watch wildlife and to hunt."
Check out these habitat projects in Wisconsin. Learn how landowners have been making habitat, and find out about large-scale projects on public lands where you can see young forest and hunt and observe the diverse and abundant wildlife attracted to those places.
If you are a landowner and would like to learn more about young forest management on your property, answer a few simple questions online. The coordinator will contact you to discuss your property in more detail, answer questions, and provide information. If young forest management sounds like a good fit for your interests and your property, the coordinator will schedule a site visit to help plan the next steps, develop management recommendations, and help you apply for financial assistance with one of our partners in order to get management completed.
Randee Wlodek, WYFP Habitat Coordinator
107 Sutliff Ave.
Rhinelander WI 54501
telephone (715) 369-1180
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Wisconsin Chapter of the Society of American Foresters
Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society
American Bird Conservancy
National Wild Turkey Federation
Wisconsin County Forests Association
Wisconsin Wildlife Federation
The Forestland Group, LLC
Wildlife Management Institute