This regional effort was the first of many habitat initiatives throughout the woodcock's range. Biologists and administrators in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wildlife Management Institute launched the Northern Young Forest Initiative in 2004. Since then, more than 30 agencies, organizations, corporations, and individuals have signed on to restore and create woodcock habitat.
Partners have set up scores of Demonstration Areas to showcase habitat management techniques benefiting woodcock and other young-forest wildlife.
In 2008, the U.S. Department of the Interior gave the partnership its Cooperative Conservation Award. This annual award recognizes cooperative conservation achievements involving collaboration among a diverse range of entities that may include federal, state, and local agencies, private companies, and individuals.
In the past, this area had some of the best breeding habitat for woodcock in the species' range. But development by humans and the gradual changeover from brushy forest to mature woods has cut deeply into the number of acres available to woodcock and other wild creatures that need young forest and shrubland to thrive.
More than 25 Demonstration Areas have been set up to showcase habitat management techniques that help woodcock and other young-forest wildlife.
A key partnership is the collaboration between the Woodcock Task Force and the Golden-Winged Warbler Working Group. The population of golden-winged warblers is also falling in the Appalachian Mountains, likely due at least in part to habitat loss.
Biologists and conservationists created the Upper Great Lakes Young Forest Initiative in 2007 to promote the stewardship of early successional habitats (young forest and shrublands) in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota within Bird Conservation Regions 12 (Boreal Hardwood Transition) and 23 (Prairie Hardwood Transition). A stepdown of the Woodcock Conservation Plan for the Upper Great Lakes region outlines habitat goals.
Partners have set up Demonstration Areas, including many on a landscape scale, to showcase habitat management techniques that help woodcock and other young-forest wildlife.
An important partner is the Golden-Winged Warbler Working Group. The population of golden-winged warblers is also falling in the region, likely due at least in part to habitat loss.
Other partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Ruffed Grouse Society, Woodcock Minnesota, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Wildlife Management Institute.
The Atlantic Coast Young Forest Initiative began in 2010. It centers on Bird Conservation Region 30, from southwestern Maine south through coastal New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York’s Long Island, southern New Jersey, the Delmarva Peninsula of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, and mainland Maryland and Virginia bordering Chesapeake Bay.
By the early 1900s, about 70 percent of the Atlantic Coastal Plain had been cleared for farming and settlement. After many farms were abandoned in the late 1800s and early 1900s, brushy forest sprang up. Since then, urban development and the forests' maturing have steadily reduced the amount of habitat available to woodcock and other young-forest wildlife.
Woodcock breed along the Atlantic Coast, and timberdoodles from farther north migrate through this important corridor. Young-forest habitats provide resting and feeding areas for woodcock shifting between the northern primary breeding range and wintering areas farther south. (Other migrating birds also use these crucial stop-over habitats.) Some woodcock winter in southern New Jersey, the Delmarva Peninsula, and parts of Virginia adjacent to Chesapeake Bay.
Another wild animal that needs young forest is the New England cottontail, found in parts of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York covered by the Atlantic Coast Young Forest Initiative. The New England cottontail is a candidate for inclusion on the federal endangered species list. Creating habitat for woodcock also benefits the New England cottontail, whose population has fallen dangerously in recent decades.
Demonstration Areas showcase habitat management techniques to help woodcock, New England cottontails, and other young-forest wildlife.
Launched in 2011, the Lower Great Lakes Young Forest Initiative is in Bird Conservation Region 13, the Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain. This conservation initiative takes in low-lying terrain near Lakes Huron, Erie, and Ontario, and several major river valleys. The region includes parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
The terrain is relatively flat, with damp soils and abundant wetlands. In recent decades agriculture has dominated the landscape, and urbanization has wiped out many acres of former wildlife habitat. Less-developed areas and less-intensively managed farmlands still support young-forest tracts.
Creating and rejuvenating young-forest habitat on both public and private lands will benefit woodcock, ruffed grouse, golden-winged and blue-winged warblers, brown thrashers, willow flycatchers, bobcats, wood and bog turtles, and numerous other wild creatures, including many whose populations have fallen in recent years. Many birds that breed in mature forests also use densely vegetated young-forest habitats for feeding and rearing their young.
Partners in the Lower Great Lakes are developing Demonstration Areas to display up-to-date management techniques for fostering the young-forest, old-field, and scrub-shrub habitats that are important to a broad spectrum of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.