PVAS helps neighborhoods and landowners take green initiatives with habitat stewardship programs | News, Sports, Jobs
SHEPHERDSTOWN – Throughout the year, the Potomac Valley Audubon Society can be seen making a difference in the Eastern Panhandle, caring for its four nature preserves and providing regular educational programs for children and adults. adults. What many people may not be aware of is the society’s work to encourage habitat stewardship outside of these areas, through three different programs open to landowners and managers. local land: Grassland Bird Initiative, Protected Pollinator Patch and Wildlife Habitat.
According to Katelyn, PVAS Lands and Conservation Manager “KC” Walters, each program focuses on different types of conservation work, depending on the desired outcome of the work, as well as the size of land available and the history of the land. A private neighborhood in Shepherdstown, Steamboat Run, has a 10-acre meadow that has now been part of one of these schemes for a decade.
“We’ve been working on it for a while” said Laurel Parker, a neighborhood member who founded the Steamboat Run committee, which decided to divide the neighborhood’s shared space between recreational and conservation purposes, by enrolling the neighborhood’s grassland in the Grassland Birds Initiative.
“It’s cool that PVAS is giving away all this wealth of knowledge,” said Parker. “It’s the whole ecosystem, the whole habitat here that they’ve helped us with, not just the birds.”
Of course, for the meadow to be listed on the GBI, Parker’s neighbors had to agree, in their concern about the dwindling birds and wildlife that could be seen in the meadow. According to Daan Vreugdenhil, Parker’s neighbor and committee member, his background as a tropical wildlife biologist left him in no doubt as to whether or not the neighborhood grassland should be the focus of conservation efforts.
“We weren’t sure we were getting the best bird population possible. And, of course, the number of birds in North America is declining in general. We see this in Audubon’s annual bird count results,” Vreugdenhil said, referring to Audubon Society research, which found the North American bird population has declined by 30% since 1970. “If you can dedicate some of your land to help increase the bird population by returning them to their original habitats, that all helps.”
By enrolling their lands in the GBI and following the directive of initiatives to provide high quality habitats for grassland birds, which are undisturbed during the nesting season, community members are giving these species one last chance. survival they desperately need, Walters said.
“I would love for every neighborhood to focus on ecological conservation in their plan for their meadows, not just like a football or baseball field,” Walters said, mentioning that grasslands should only be mowed between Oct. 1 and March 15, to avoid hurting native ground-nesting bird species.
By comparison, the Protected Pollinator Patch program aims to work with landowners to designate open grasslands of at least half an acre to provide valuable flora for the protection and conservation of our native pollinator species, including bees. , butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, beetles. and fly.
Wildlife Habitat, unlike the other two PVAS programs, does not require a minimum lot size to be included in conservation practices. The program focuses on promoting wildlife, providing them with food, water and shelter. The soil used to create these habitats can also incorporate the necessities needed to raise the young, such as nesting boxes, and use other sustainable practices, such as composting or rainwater harvesting.
To learn more, email Walters at [email protected] or visit https://www.potomacaudubon.org and click “Conservation” and then “Habitat Stewardship”.