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.

Publicado por masswildlife masswildlife, 03 de abril de 2020

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Thank you for this update. Looking forward to getting out to Crane soon.

Publicado por jdwelly hace alrededor de 2 años (Marca)

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