Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Editor's Pick

Thousands of seedlings may save songbird
By Spencer Hunt for The Columbus Dispatch
Published Monday, April 21

Lands once spoiled by strip mines might hold new hope for conservationists working to save a disappearing songbird.

Strip mines in southern Ohio produced millions of tons of coal but also destroyed thousands of acres of forests that were breeding grounds for the cerulean warbler and other migratory birds. Laws that make companies restore mine-damaged lands let them plant grasses instead of the trees birds need for nests.

Now, federal workers and conservationists have planted nearly 15,000 tree seedlings on 9 acres of reclaimed strip-mine land in Vinton County near the western edge of the Zaleski State Forest.
Kristin Westad, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, hopes the trees -- oaks and maples, among others -- will attract warblers and offset the loss of trees that contributed to a 70 percent decline in ceruleans since 1966.

"They are declining so precipitously, they could be endangered soon," Westad said. "If we get them some life support now, we could keep them from reaching that endangered status."

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(Photo from sciencecastle.com)

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