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Cerulean Warblers Declining & Globe Forest 4th in Top 10 Most Endangered Areas in the South

May 2, 2010

Spotlight on a species in Danger:  the Cerulean Warbler

The Forest Service continues to make unconvincing arguments for the Globe Timber sale such as increasing habitat for the Cerulean Warbler. Not only is Western North Carolina not the central breeding range of this species, but the truth is that this bird and many other songbird species also need long expanses of uninterrupted forest containing mature, deciduous trees including oaks (which are exactly what is contained in the Globe Forest) in order to breed and raise their young.  Below is some information about this threatened songbird from Defenders of Wildlife:

” The cerulean warbler, once a common sight in the forests of the eastern United States, is vanishing at an alarming rate. Over the past four decades, the cerulean’s numbers have declined by seventy percent. Between 1966 and 1999, it declined an average of 4% per year throughout its eastern breeding range. Within the species core range (Midwest and Southeast) the total population decline is closer to eighty percent. This dramatic drop is due, in large part, to habitat fragmentation and destruction of its breeding range in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys, southern Missouri and Wisconsin, eastern Kentucky, eastern Ohio, and West Virginia. Within its breeding range, this blue and white warbler requires large tracts of mature deciduous forest, including open woods with tall trees and relatively little undergrowth, often found near bottomlands and rivers. Commercial logging, agriculture and development within the species’ range are leading to the loss of mature deciduous forests, especially along stream valleys. The resulting fragmentation and isolation of forests and loss of key tree species, such as oaks and sycamores, is a leading cause of dramatic population reduction. In addition, mountaintop mining in key habitat areas has been identified as one of the most serious threats to the species. Mining practices have been found to be particularly devastating to cerulean populations, as the species’ preferred habitat types – namely steep slopes and mountain ridges – are destroyed.  This problem continues to intensify. It is estimated that currently proposed and permitted mines may directly eliminate one fifth of the cerulean’s remaining population.”
Yes, we must protect habitat for the Cerulean Warbler, but cutting the Globe Forest will not benefit this bird.  We need to protect the  mature and old growth forests that remain, and we need to restore the lands that have been previously clear-cut and mismanaged by the forest service across the country.  Those locations provide a perfect opportunity to create early successional habitat for songbird species that need it.  We must put a stop to the irresponsible practices of timber companies that clear-cut forests and replace them with moncocropped tree farms.  And if you really want to save the Cerulean Warbler, then ban Mountaintop Removal Mining in West Virginia!  Those mining projects are destroying the last habitats that exist in their range and are obliterating their homes and chances at survival.
Southern Environmental Law Center Names Globe Forest in Top 10 Most Endangered Places in The South:

WASHINGTON, DC, January 6, 2009 (ENS) – The largest environmental advocacy organization working to protect the Southeast, Monday announced a list of 10 special places in the region that face immediate, potentially irreparable threats in 2009.The Southern Environmental Law Center said the 10 most endangered places were chosen from among hundreds that are impacted by the center’s law and policy work in the six states of Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.

SELC’s deputy director Jeff Gleason says the region is the fastest growing region in the United States. “In many respects, the South is also a testing ground for the nation’s most pressing environmental issues, including energy, global warming, drought, land conservation, and biological diversity,” he said.

Top Ten Endangered Areas in the South for 2009:

  1. Clinch and Powell Rivers (Virginia) Issue: Construction of a new coal-fired power plant in Wise County will accelerate mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia, and further increase mercury levels in the Clinch and Powell rivers.
  2. Interstate 81 Corridor (Virginia) Issue: Virginia officials are reexamining a plan to widen all 325 miles of I-81 to perhaps eight lanes to support long-haul truck traffic – a plan that would cost billions of dollars and cause tremendous harm to communities and historic, scenic, and environmental resources.
  3. Marine Waters (Virginia) Issue: Virginia is the first state in our region to begin the process of opening up its marine waters to offshore drilling for oil and gas. The benefit of this short-term supply of energy is dramatically outweighed by the harm to the environment and communities.
  4. Globe Forest (North Carolina) Issue: Destruction of rare, old-growth forest in the Southern Appalachians.
  5. Pamlico River (North Carolina) Issue: The single largest destruction of wetlands in North Carolina’s history will occur if a phosphate mining company gets permission to expand its operations on the river’s banks.
  6. Great Pee Dee River (South Carolina) Issue: Santee Cooper, a state-owned utility, is proposing to build more coal-fired power plants with outdated technology that would dump an additional 300 pounds of mercury into an already mercury-overloaded river.
  7. Johns Island (South Carolina) Issue: A $420 million highway proposal threatens to bring large-scale development to this historic community, transforming the island into a sea of condos, mega-stores, and traffic.
  8. Salt Marshes (Georgia) Issue: Large-scale development on biologically rich islands and tidal waters.
  9. Weeks Bay (Alabama) Issue: Unchecked development and weak regulation threatens an area so unique it is one of only three in Alabama to receive the designation of Outstanding Natural Resource Water.
  10. Cherokee National Forest (Northeast Tennessee) Issue: The U.S. Forest Service is moving forward with its plans to log several areas of this remarkable landscape, endangering trout, unbroken wildlife habitat and rare species.”
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