VWL's Alex Newhart (pictured) collected a single rusty patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis) this summer at Sky Meadows State Park.
The rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis), which has not been seen in the eastern United States in five years, has been found by a Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute research team at Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane, Va. This formerly common bee has disappeared from 87 percent of its range in the Upper Midwest and Eastern Seaboard and is feared headed for extinction.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology released the State of the Birds report for 2014. Many of the grassland and scrubland dependent species surveyed on the VWL Grassland Biodiversity Surveys are in decline throughout their ranges. Our local landowners hold fantastic habitat for both grassland and scrubland birds. Eight out of the ten most common species detected on the Grassland Bird Surveys are grassland or scrubland species which are in decline.
In 2013, we will continue to have coordinators for each survey to ease data collection, and survey protocols will likely remain the same with the exception of some minor improvements. Bird surveys will likely add surveys in the fall and winter so we will keep you posted on dates and modifications to the breeding season protocol.
We will also aim to survey 24-26 fields this year, keeping the number of sites the same as previous years. However, rather than continuing to survey sites already participating in the surveys, we will work to increase our unique samples by recruiting as many new sites as we can for the 2013 season and set some of our current sites aside for 1-2 seasons.
We are seeking landowners in this area who have at least 20 contiguous acres of native warm season grasses and are willing to have their land surveyed for native plants and wildlife. For landowners with at least 20 contiguous acres of cool season grasses (fescue, orchard grass, and others) that engage management practices for improved biodiversity (or plan to in the near future), we would also like to sample your property. This research will help us to measure the effects of grassland conservation efforts in our region.
If your property is selected, three different biological survey teams will visit your site 1-4 times each to study bird, pollinator and species. Sampling occurs each year mid-May thru June and again mid July thru August. During these times, the study sites cannot be mowed, grazed or physically altered, as these actions would interfere with sampling results.
SCBI has received a grant from the National Forest Foundation (NFF) to restore 200 acres of grasslands that border the George Washington National Forest. Thus far, we have recruited 10 properties totaling 180 acres in Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties that will commence restoration in the coming weeks.
Through this grant, landowners will be provided with seeds, herbicide, a Truax No-Till drill and contact information for service providers and other landowners through the VWL network.
If successful in its first year, this collaboration with NFF has the potential to continue in subsequent years, so please check back with us if you are interested in applying for assistance in the future.