St. Lawrence Valley Collaborative

The Golden-winged Warbler population is in sharp decline due to lack of natural disturbances, too little forest management, and habitat loss from human development. Photo Credit: Roger Eriksson

The St. Lawrence Valley Partnership for Golden-winged Warblers (SLVP) is a collaborative project between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Thousand Islands Land Trust, Indian River Lakes ConservancyAudubon New York, Clarkson University, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The partnership is focused on raising awareness about the importance of the St. Lawrence Valley for breeding Golden-winged Warblers and on creating and maintaining habitat for this imperiled species.

Golden-winged Warblers traditionally relied on natural disturbances such as fire and beaver activity to create young forest habitat. During the last half-century populations have suffered severe declines because of a lack of these disturbances, too little forest management, and habitat loss from human development. Hybridization with Blue-winged Warblers has exacerbated the declines and added complexity to the development of effective conservation strategies. The Golden-winged Warbler, now one of the most critically threatened non-federally listed species in Eastern North America, will require protection under the Endangered Species Act without significant conservation action.

The first of three interpretative panels created by the St. Lawrence Valley Partnership that will be displayed at the Golden-winged Warbler habitat demonstration areas.

As of 2013, 61% of the world’s Golden-winged Warblers lived on private lands. Because land trusts protect 24 million acres of eastern forests, they play important roles in preserving and restoring critical habitat for Golden-winged Warblers throughout their range. The SLVP fosters strategic partnerships and cooperatively develops programs and materials that explain the importance of best land management practices (BMPs). One of the crowning accomplishments of the partnership is the implementation of a regional restoration and management program for shrubland and young forests on land trust and state lands. As part of that program, they developed three habitat demonstration areas with interpretative signs and offered training workshops to property owners, land trusts, conservation planners, and land managers. By working together, the St. Lawrence Valley partners are better achieving their goals to further expand land conservation and stewardship and grow support in communities throughout the region.

More information on Golden-winged Warbler Working Groups, the Golden-winged Warbler Status Review and Conservation Plan, regional Golden-winged Warbler BMPs, and habitat guides can be found here.

More information about the SLVP can be found in an article featured in the Land Trust Alliance’s Saving Land Magazine and Land Trusts Partnering to Promote Bird Conservation on Private Lands in the St. Lawrence Valley, as well as by visiting the Thousand Islands Land Trust shrubland species management page.