Diario del proyecto MassWildlife's Fox Den Wildlife Management Area

21 de abril de 2020

The City Nature Challenge, Together-but-Separately

We here at MassWildlife hope that you and your families and friends are safe and well during the COVID-19 public health emergency. We’ve found that a responsible hike in nature is great for both physical and mental health. We suspect that’s also true for anyone who uses iNaturalist and welcome you to participate in the City Nature Challenge (April 24-27th) at a nearby Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

This year, the City Nature Challenge is focused simply on looking at nature, wherever you’re able to be. MassWildlife had hoped to be leading public walks for the Boston and Pioneer Valley Challenges, but we have cancelled those events for the safety of the public and our staff. However, a number of MassWildlife staff will be going out to iNaturalize sometime during the Challenge period and we hope you will, too.

All of MassWildlife’s (WMAs) remain open to the public. Please remember to keep a distance of 6 feet or more between you and other visitors. MassWildlife encourages the public to visit lesser-known spots and explore the outdoors close to home. If crowded, choose a different location or time to visit. Please click here for the latest guidance and recommendations regarding COVID-19.

We hope you visit one or more of the WMAs during the City Nature Challenge, particularly the WMAs we support as projects in iNaturalist. For the Boston City Nature Challenge area, those iNaturalist project WMAs are:
Martin Burns WMA
J.C. Phillips Sanctuary
Wayne MacCallum WMA
Part of Bolton Flats WMA
Burrage Pond WMA
Southeast Bioreserve
Frances Crane WMA

For the Pioneer Valley City Nature Challenge, the iNaturalist project WMAs are:
Montague Plains WMA
Herman Covey WMA
Poland Brook WMA

For maps of these areas – or any of our WMAs across the state – you can visit our on-line Lands Viewer. These maps also show the official parking areas, where those are available. As always these days, if a parking area or a trail or lakeshore is crowded with people, go somewhere else to hike and explore.

Any observation you upload to iNaturalist from these WMAs during the Challenge period will automatically be collected in both the appropriate Challenge project and in the appropriate WMA project. All you have to do is get out and enjoy the natural world. We hope you do get out, and we hope you find a bit of beauty and peace in nature. ​

Posted on 21 de abril de 2020 by masswildlife masswildlife | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de abril de 2020

Management Projects Planned for Early 2020

MassWildlife has several habitat restoration and management projects planned for spring and early summer this year; some of them are on the 15 targeted Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) we’ve put on iNaturalist as projects. Here’s a list of what’s in progress or about to happen. If you’re visiting one of these properties while the work is going on, you may see signs telling you to stay out of the area being burned or logged.

Many of our current habitat management projects are targeting two main goals: restoring barrens habitats and creating new patches of young forest.

Barrens Habitats
Barrens habitats are areas of the landscape that are usually on deep sand deposits. Before effective fire suppression, these areas burned occasionally. Perhaps the most well-known type of barrens habitat in Massachusetts is the Pitch Pine-Scrub Oak natural community, found in our Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area and in DCR’s Myles Standish State Forest, among other places. Other types of barrens habitats are sandplain grasslands, such as at Frances Crane WMA and Bolton Flats WMA, and the “riverine” barrens, such as at Muddy Brook WMA or along Priest Brook in the Birch Hill WMA. Barrens habitats, if effectively managed to restore appropriate burning intervals, support many uncommon and state-listed plants and animals.

This year, we are planning several management activities to restore and maintain barrens habitats. At Bolton Flats WMA, Frances Crane WMA, Herman Covey WMA, and Montague Plains WMA, we will be conducting prescribed burns of 50 to 100 acres. Some of these areas will also be treated to eliminate invasive species that threaten to take over the barrens habitats.

In case you’re wondering what effects our forestry and prescribed burning activities have on the overall carbon budget on our lands, well, we wondered about that, too. We recently investigated how much carbon is stored on our properties statewide, how carbon storage has increased because of forest growth and additional land acquisitions, and how much carbon is released when we cut trees or burn a habitat. The details can be found on our website at Carbon Storage on MassWildlife Lands, but the summary is that carbon releases through habitat management for rare and declining species is just 1.7% of the new carbon storage by forest growth on WMAs. Overall, much more carbon is stored than released on our lands every year.

Young Forests
By the mid-1800s, about 80% of Massachusetts was clear of forests, because of extensive farming and logging. Since that time, the forests of Massachusetts have grown back; now, about 80% of the state is forested. This process of succession has gradually eliminated what we call “young forest,” which are the parts of the landscape in states of early succession: grasslands, shrublands, and young sapling trees, up to above 30 years old. Young forests support many species, particularly birds, that disappear once the trees have grown older. Chestnut-sided Warblers, Prairie Warblers, and Blue-winged Warblers are a few of the birds you’ll find only in these early-successional habitats. Even Ruffed Grouse, which can be found in mature forest, prefer to feed on the seeds of the birches that colonize a newly cleared area.

Because these young forests are disappearing across the state, MassWildlife has set a goal of creating and maintaining 10% to 15% of our properties in young forest (and setting aside 10% to 15% to mature into old-growth forest, on the other end of the spectrum). This year, we are planning young forest cuts at Fox Den WMA, as well as other Wildlife Management Areas not in iNaturalist.

Posted on 03 de abril de 2020 by masswildlife masswildlife | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de febrero de 2020

We’re Looking Forward to 2020!

Two very exciting items are coming up for MassWildlife in 2020: first, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, and second, we are inviting everyone in the MassWildlife community to join us on iNaturalist!

30 Years of MESA
The year 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). Through the implementation of MESA, MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) conserves and protects the most vulnerable native animal and plant species of Massachusetts and the habitats upon which they depend. Currently, there are more than 430 native plants, vertebrates, and invertebrates that are officially listed as Endangered, Threatened, or of Special Concern.
Many rare species have benefited from the protection afforded under MESA and the work of NHESP over the years, including the restoration and conservation of several notable species such as the peregrine falcon, bald eagle, and northern red-bellied cooter. However, there is still a lot to do and in the face of habitat loss, emerging diseases, invasive species, climate change, and other threats, this work is more important than ever!

NHESP staff are diligently working to recover rare species and their habitats. NHESP’s conservation efforts include targeted restoration and active management of habitats; collection, management, and analysis of statewide biological data; conducting regulatory reviews; and the development of educational programming, publications, and conservation tools to connect residents with nature and help guide state and partner conservation priorities.

The vast majority of NHESP’s work is funded through grants, regulatory review fees, and donations from supportive citizens. Donations to NHESP are received through a voluntary check-off on the state income tax form and direct donations throughout the year. NHESP donations go directly into the Endangered Wildlife Conservation Fund, which can only be used for administering NHESP programs. These donations are critical to ensure the dedicated NHESP staff can continue to perform important conservation work, including field research and surveys, regulatory review, habitat management, land protection, and education. Without such support, NHESP cannot to protect, manage, and restore the Commonwealth’s most imperiled animals and plants and the sensitive communities and habitats on which they depend. In addition to donations, citizens can help by reporting the location of a rare species or vernal pool to help NHESP keep its database current.

Join the celebration! Go to Mass.gov/30MESA throughout the year to learn about MESA and how you can support NHESP.

MassWildlife iNaturalist Launch
In 2020, we’re going to invite the residents of Massachusetts to join us on iNaturalist and learn how to use this wonderful website, app, and database to explore our properties and learn more about the plants and animals of the Commonwealth.

We’ll be publishing an article about iNaturalist in the April issue of our magazine, Massachusetts Wildlife, which reaches approximately 20,000 subscribers. In addition, over 67,000 people get our monthly email newsletter and over 55,000 people follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and we’ll be inviting all of them to join us on iNaturalist, too. We’re participating in the Boston City Nature Challenge in late April by leading walks on a few of our properties, and we’ll be leading iNaturalist walks on other Wildlife Management Areas over the course of the spring, summer, and fall. Check our calendar regularly at Mass.gov/30MESA as we schedule iNaturalist walks and other events.

We’re hoping that many of our subscribers and followers start using iNaturalist to get outside and learn about the natural world, especially on our Wildlife Management Areas and Wildlife Conservation Easements. All this kicks into high gear in April, right when we are all sick of winter and really want spring to come!

Till then, we hope you’re getting outside even in the cold and snow this time of year, finding the tracks of wild turkeys and squirrels, admiring the red berries on winterberry shrubs, and listening to mating calls of owls on quiet nights.

Posted on 05 de febrero de 2020 by masswildlife masswildlife | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de agosto de 2019

More Land Protected!

Every year, MassWildlife acquires and protects more land as Wildlife Management Areas and Wildlife Conservation Easements (WMAs and WCEs) for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy. Our fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30, so we just wrapped up land projects for fiscal year 2019. In that year, we acquired 2,428 acres at a total cost of $6.2 million. Funding for land protection during fiscal year 2019 came from four sources: the $5 Wildlands Stamp added to hunting and fishing licenses sold in Massachusetts; the Massachusetts Open Space Bond; additional grant funding from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs; and In-Lieu Fee funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The addition of 611 acres to the Fox Den WMA, in the towns of Chester, Middlefield, and Worthington, increases the acreage of this large property by more than 10%! It was already one of our largest properties, at over 5,000 acres; the new acquisitions raise that to almost 5,650 acres.

We’ve edited the boundaries of this WMA in iNaturalist to reflect these new additions. Nobody at all, not even MassWildlife, has done any iNaturalizing in these 611 acres of new Wildlife Management Area. Let’s go see what we can find!

Posted on 26 de agosto de 2019 by masswildlife masswildlife | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

08 de agosto de 2019

Welcome to MassWildlife's Fox Den WMA Project!

Welcome to the MassWildlife All Wildlife Biodiversity Project! You may know MassWildlife, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, in our traditional role as the state hunting and fishing agency. Possibly you know the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, the part of MassWildlife that tracks and regulates rare species listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. But, in fact, MassWildlife works to conserve all biodiversity in the Commonwealth—plants, animals, fungi, every species.

We started this iNaturalist project for two reasons: to communicate with naturalists in Massachusetts; and to encourage people to get outside and enjoy learning more about the biodiversity in our great state.

Our first project in iNaturalist is to introduce you to fifteen of our Wildlife Management Areas and Wildlife Conservation Easements (WMAs and WCEs) all across the state. In total, MassWildlife manages over 220,000 acres of wildlife lands in Massachusetts for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy. We’ve chosen fifteen properties from the Berkshires to Cape Cod that offer a range of habitats and variety of wildlife viewing opportunities. This property, the Fox Den Wildlife Management Area, is located in Middlefield, Worthington, and Chester, and offers extensive wooded hills along the Middle Branch of the Westfield River. All fifteen properties are great places for naturalists to go exploring and find hundreds, even thousands, of common and uncommon species. While we already have a breadth of knowledge about these properties, we don’t know every species on them – and that’s where you can help!

If you’d like to help, please join MassWildlife’s All Wildlife Biodiversity Project , which will collect the data from all fifteen properties. You can also join this project or one of the others listed here and shown on this map:

Check back here often, as we will be writing about what we’re doing for habitat management on these WMAs, what we find when we survey these properties, or about any number of interesting species and habitats we find along the way. Feel free to ask questions— and please join us!

Posted on 08 de agosto de 2019 by masswildlife masswildlife | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario