Young Forests are for the Birds

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Sometimes it takes drastic action to help a species, but that’s what Mike and Laura Jackson did on 29 acres of their forested property south of Everett, Pennsylvania. Back in 1985, when Laura’s parents gave them the 114-acre property, the forest was in bad shape: a lot of trees were dead from gypsy moth defoliation and the best trees had been logged out of the forest.

Fast forward to 2011, and now their forest has been invaded by non-native species and very few young trees were growing due to the dense shade and hungry deer. Then the Jacksons learned that expert advice, invasive species management, and a program to create a young, healthy forest was available to landowners who qualified – at no charge. They researched the pros and cons of creating a sustainable forest that would also help wildlife. As birders and nature photographers, they had documented a big change in certain species as the years went by. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, they found Golden-winged Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chats, American Woodcock, Ruffed Grouse, and other birds that were now missing from their property.

In 2014, the Jacksons decided to take on the challenge of creating a habitat for these early successional species, as well as building other habitats, like vernal pools, to help species at risk. Find out what the Jacksons did and if their experiment worked. Did wildlife respond to the habitat changes? Do Golden-winged Warblers live in their woods once again?

Find out how that project led to international conservation efforts in Honduras and Mexico, under the direction of Juniata Valley Audubon Society.

About Our Speakers

Mike and Laura Jackson are retired science teachers who enjoy nature photography, birding, native plant gardening, hiking, and kayaking. They manage their wooded property in Bedford County for wildlife and have a conservation easement on it through the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Laura currently serves as President of Save Our Allegheny Ridges and as Vice-President of Juniata Valley Audubon Society. Mike serves on the Juniata Valley Audubon Society Board as Historian. They are also Pennsylvania Forest Stewards, active in the Center for Private Forests at Penn State, and in their local woodland owners’ group.