More than 100 People Learn About Bat-Friendly Forestry

 

Workshop and field tour held October 30th-31st in Aitkin, MN

 

 

(Minneapolis, MN) - On October 30th and 31st, a Bat-Friendly Forestry Workshop & Tour was held in Aitkin, Minnesota. The event addressed the proposed listing of the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. More than 100 ecologists, foresters, wildlife biologists, harvesting professionals, bat experts, land owners, and stakeholders attended the workshop. More than 50 people also participated in a field tour that reviewed bat-friendly forestry practices and applications.

 

"It was great to see so many people come together to better understand the issues and opportunities for supporting the habitat needs of forest-dwelling bat species," said Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director of Dovetail Partners, one of the event organizers.

 

The northern long-eared bat is suffering declines in northeastern states from white-nose syndrome.  Because of this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the bat as an endangered species. A final decision on the listing is to be made in April 2015. The bat's habitat range includes 38 states (including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan), the District of Columbia and five Canadian Provinces.

 

"Bats provide incredible pest-control services - benefiting ecosystems and economies - that are at risk due to white-nose syndrome," said Fernholz.

 

Presentations at the workshop included an overview of forest-dwelling bats by Tim Sichmeller, a bat biologist who has done extensive acoustical and mist-net surveys of bats around the region and throughout the country. Mark Jacobs, Aitkin County Land Commissioner, addressed forestry practices used by the county to protect and enhance habitat conditions that are good for bats and other species.  Rich Baker, the Minnesota Endangered Species Coordinator from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources joined Mark Jacobs in discussing research findings. Additional private sector research findings were also discussed. Kim Chapman with Applied Ecological Services addressed the findings of a research gap analysis and engaged the audience in a discussion of research needs and priorities. Lisa Mandell, Deputy Field Supervisor with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded the workshop by addressing the timelines and next steps of the listing process for the northern long-eared bat.

 

 

The tour included visiting forestlands managed by the Aitkin County Land Department. The county manages over 220,000 acres of forest that have been certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards for more than 15 years.

 

"It was a good opportunity to learn a lot more about bats - something we all can benefit from - and we had a little fun with having the tour on Halloween too, although no one took us up on the invitation to wear their costumes," said Fernholz.

 

Workshop sponsors included Dovetail Partners, Aitkin County Land Department, Minnesota Association of County Land Commissioners, Blandin Foundation and the Forest Guild.

 

Presentations from the workshop are available at the website:
http://www.dovetailinc.org/programs/land_use/bat_friendly_forest_management