Grants Help MA Landowners Improve Habitat, Boost Recreation

By Joel Martinez and Tashanea Whitlow, WWLP

WARE, Mass. – Private landowners Brian and Martha Klassanos of Ware received a $26,750 grant to treat invasive plants, establish grassland habitat and improve shrublands on their Muddy Brook Valley property.

The couple told 22News they applied for the MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant in the fall, saying, “There is a lot of natural biodiversity here, and what we’re trying to do is make sure that is stays the way it’s supposed to . . . . We’ve got a lot of rare species and we just want to steward it the proper way.”

Black-and-white warbler

Many songbirds, including black-and-white warblers, either breed in young forest or find food there./J. Mays

It was announced last week by the Baker-Polito Administration that $317,243 in grants would be awarded throughout Massachusetts for wildlife habitat improvement projects, and are meant to “improve habitats for native wildlife and increase opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation.”

“We are proud to provide municipalities, conservation organizations and private landowners the resources necessary to improve habitats for wildlife in need of conservation assistance, while enhancing recreational opportunities for people who enjoy hunting, bird watching and other wildlife-related recreation,” said Governor Charlie Baker.

“Wildlife habitat grants offer resources for improvement efforts usually unavailable to municipalities and private landowners,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We applaud these landowners for proactively working to make their land more hospitable to a wide range of native plants and wildlife.”

According to a news release sent to 22News, the grant program helps private and municipal landowners improve habitat for wildlife that is considered to be in “greatest conservation need and for game species.” The release stated that, “The projects also expand opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor recreation, and complement the ongoing habitat management efforts on state lands.”

“The reality is that 80 percent of Massachusetts lands where wildlife is found are owned privately,” said Jack Buckley, MassWildlife Director. “It makes sense as an agency to promote and apply science-based habitat management activities with committed municipal and private landowners, thereby protecting their investment in wildlife and habitat.”

The following landowners received MassWildlife Habitat Management grants:

Town of Amherst (Amherst) – $18,426 – Remove woody vegetation and control invasive species to improve old field habitats.

Massachusetts Forest Alliance (Ashfield and Hawley) – $47,950 – Create young forest habitat.

Berkshire Natural Resources Council (Dalton and Hinsdale) – $18,000 – Control invasive plants and improve floodplain forest along the Old Mill Trail.

The Trustees of Reservations (Ipswich) – $19,500 – Improve meadow habitat on the Appleton Farms property.

Town of Lenox (Lenox) – 33,500 – Combat the hardy kiwi invasive plant infestation.

Town of Marlborough (Marlborough) – $14,483 – Control invasive plants in pitch pine-oak habitat at Desert Natural Area.

Town of Mashpee (Mashpee) – $11,611 – Convert an old bog into seasonal waterfowl habitat.

Nantucket Conservation Foundation (Nantucket) – $38,469 – Reduce shrub and tree species cover to improve habitat conditions for wildlife dependent on grasslands and heathlands.

MassAudubon (Otis) – $29,213 – Create new, and expand existing, shrubland habitat on the Cold Brook Wildlife Sanctuary.

Nature Conservancy (Sheffield) – $23,640 – Improve wetland and grassland habitats through the removal of woody plants on the Schenob Brook Preserve.

The Trustees of Reservations (Sheffield) – $35,701 – Restore grassland habitat through woody species removal and invasive species control on the West Grumpelt Parcel of Bartholemew’s Cobble Preserve.

Brian and Martha Klassanos (Ware) – $26,750 – Private landowners Brian and Martha Klassanos will treat invasive plants, establish grassland habitat, and improve shrublands on their Muddy Brook Valley property.

Watch a news report on the Klassanos' habitat work.