Wilderness preservation policies can sometimes create protections that lack enough flexibility to address a variety of species needs. Rusty Blackbird populations in the United States have been declining for decades due to a multitude of stressors. Populations have declined by greater than 95% since 1966 according to the breeding bird surveys (Greenburg et al., 2011). The Wilderness and Wild Forest land use designations in the Adirondack Park, New York State, are intended to preserve forests and limit anthropogenic impact on the landscape within the Adirondacks to maintain its “forever wild” status under the New York Constitution. This designation can be a challenge when attempting to maintain native species in the region that require forest disturbance. This includes species facing rapid decline in the Park, such as Rusty Blackbirds, Euphagus carolinus (RUBL), and Spruce Grouse, Falcipennis canadensis (SPGR). While resources are available to protect the Spruce Grouse because it is classified as an endangered species in New York, other species are more vulnerable. For instance, state protections and funding required to implement management plans and conduct research on Rusty Blackbirds are extremely limited. We examine policy options to address this concern. Potential solutions include experimental management on private lands, incentives for private land owners to manage for RUBL habitat, increased education and restricted, permit-based forest management for RUBL habitat in various contexts. This case demonstrates the need for greater flexibility in policy development to address the needs of species conservation across a range of contexts.



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