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GWWA/AMWO Rx Prescribed Fire: Tamarac NWR


Minnesota has the highest number of breeding Golden-winged Warblers (GWWA) in the country and the second highest population of breeding American Woodcock (AMWO). Both species populations have experienced a precipitous decline in their population size and nesting range in recent decades making Minnesota a vital component of the conservation initiative to prevent further losses and expand present populations. The GWWA is presently being considered for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and was upgraded by the Global International Union for Conservation of Nature to a species in need of immediate conservation action. American Bird Conservancy and Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) are partners in an expansive GWWA conservation initiative that includes public agencies, private landowners, non-profit organizations and academic institutions throughout the hemisphere. Tamarac NWR is located at the intersection of the two ecological provinces, the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province and the Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province. Due to its size (42,724 contiguous acres) and ecological location, Tamarac NWR is an optimal landscape within which to maintain and expand early successional habitat through prescribed fire treatments that emulate natural disturbance regimes. Its established populations of AMWO and GWWA have made it essential to ongoing life cycle research by the University of Minnesota and makes Tamarac NWR's diverse landscape a management priority within the state. Historic fire regimes compounded with other disturbance factors once served to increase landscape-level and site-level heterogeneity throughout northern Minnesota. Due to the relative reduction in low severity fire events in recent decades, canopy gaps and forest openings are often characterized by extremely dense shrubs, saplings, and pole-sized trees that reduce or eliminate the ability of herbaceous understory species to compete for resources and maintain populations. The loss of deciduous young forest habitat greatly limits the capacity of such areas to support robust populations of wildlife species such as the GWWA and AMWO. In the absence of historic disturbance regimes throughout northern Minnesota prescribed fire is a tool used to maintain or restore young forest habitats. Such treatments utilize low-severity fire regimes in order to maximize species diversity and abundance by maintaining areas of early successional forest in GWWA and AMWO nesting/brood-rearing areas.

Program Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program

Status In Progress

Dates 05/05/2014 - 06/30/2017

Project Manager Peter Dieser

Grant Recipient American Bird Conservancy

Grant Recipient Type NGO

Primary Funding Source(s) Outdoor Heritage Fund

Grant Amount $37,500

Statutory Reference M.L. 2016, Chp. 172, Art. 1, Sec. 2, Subd. 5(K)

Management Unit(s) Federal

Habitat(s) FGW

Activity Type(s) Restoration/Enhancement

Primary County Becker


Latest Indicator Number of acres enhanced

Target 1500 Acres

Measurement N/A