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Seven Islands Wins State Award of Excellence

Seven Islands State Birding Park won the 2015 “Excellence in Resource Management” award from Tennessee State Parks.

Parks nominated for this award have demonstrated excellence in effective and abundant resource management activities within their park. Resource management activities can be both natural and cultural and can include but are not limited to: invasive species management, historic preservation, rare species inventory, habitat enhancement or protection, pest management, oral history collection, and more.

Seven Islands State Birding Park places an extraordinary focus on habitat management because “no habitat, no birds!” Every year park staff “touches” around 3/4 of the 420 acres they manage. They are in a constant state of habitat restoration and improvement. In 2015, the park burned over 130 acres in order to set back succession, and suppress woody species in our native warm season grasslands. They have taken action to control and remove invasive species on over 45 acres. This year they also completed a grant that involved the planting of 130 acres of native pollinator friendly species into the native warm season grasses. They planted and maintained 5,000 native trees and shrubs in order to restore and to create new hedgerow.

Bird banding was made available to the public for the first time last year. A record 135  birds were banded in one session. The Sora, Common Raven, Dickcissel, and Clay Colored Sparrow were all new and exciting additions to the Seven Islands State Birding Park bird list in 2015.

The park has laid the groundwork for expanding the wetland area to over five acres, planting a new monarch butterfly meadow, and designing and installing three new hummingbird attracting native plant gardens.

A new partnership with the Tennessee chapter of the Bluebird Society has resulted in the donation and installation of 50 new songbird nesting boxes. Volunteers will monitor and maintain these boxes every spring and summer. Student members of the UT Wildlife and Fisheries Society have been mapping and installing 15 new wood duck boxes that were built and donated by the local chapter of the Woodsman of America. These boxes will be monitored and maintained by the students.

A new partnership with the American Chestnut Society has resulted in the establishment of an American Chestnut Seed Orchard at Seven Island State Birding Park. Planting will continue through the next few years and thousands of blight resistant chestnut seedlings will be planted. These seedlings will be culled until only the strongest and most resistant trees remain which will be used as parent plants whose seeds will be harvested to establish new orchards with the goal of restoring the American Chestnut to the North American forest ecosystem.

Congratulations to park manager Justine Cucchiara and her staff for this well-deserved award!

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