BRDC Restores Golden-winged Warbler Habitat!

During a beautiful first week in October, 70 acres along the Appalachian Trail were managed through a partnership with the US Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Piedmont Appalachian Trail Hikers, and Blue Ridge Discovery Center. The ecologically valuable tract of old field and shrubby habitat is one of the few areas with known breeding golden-winged warblers in Smyth County. These habitat specialists require just the right mix of vegetative structure for a successful breeding season. The old field habitat that is currently found throughout the tract is in various stages of succession. If allowed to progress through succession, much of the area will revert back to forest and the diversity of wildlife that is found within the tract will decline. While the warblers are headed to Central and South America for the winter, this yearly maintenance of strategic brush hogging and non-native invasive plant control can safely be completed to maintain the correct ratio of structure across the tract. Not all of the work was done with machinery, just under twenty volunteers from the local community, Radford University and Celanese Corporation provided much of the muscle to tackle the invasive plants and reseeding and mulching efforts across patches of the tract.  All of the hard work that was accomplished this fall will assure that the golden-winged warblers will find the habitat that they need when they return next spring.