"Good golden-winged warbler habitat has clumps of native shrubs near areas of mature forest," says Mark LaBarr of Audubon Vermont. At Helen W. Buckner Memorial Preserve at Bald Mountain, in West Haven in west-central Vermont, Audubon Vermont is working with The Nature Conservancy, which owns the preserve, to improve the habitat for those warblers as well as a large suite of other wildlife.
We’ve owned our forest in Starksboro, Vermont, since 2005, and have added to it over the years by purchasing adjacent properties; the entire parcel now totals 290 contiguous acres. We spent the first few years of ownership investing in the property: researching boundary lines and property history, surveying, reclaiming old trails, creating connector trails, and managing water on all trails.
Farmington River Wildlife Management Area straddles the border between the southwestern Massachusetts towns of Otis and Becket. It’s the largest landholding owned and managed by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) in the Southern Berkshire Focus Area for New England cottontail restoration.
Light-loving trees and shrubs, a suite of songbirds, ruffed grouse, deer, black bears – and, conservationists hope, eventually New England cottontails – should all benefit from timber harvests begun in 2014 on Monterey Preservation Land Trust’s 383-acre Mount Hunger property in Berkshire County, western Massachusetts.
Foresters and biologists at Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge are using timber harvests to create an ongoing source of young forest for American woodcock and other wild animals that use the same habitat. Not only will the strategically located timber harvests provide cover where woodcock can breed, rear young, and feed, they’ll also perform another important function: teach human visitors to the popular refuge about the importance of young forest for dozens of kinds of North Woods wildlife.
Land Trust’s Role Includes Actively Managing Habitat
“We know the population of the New England cottontail rabbit has fallen rangewide,” says Gary Casabona, a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) biologist based in Warwick, R.I. “Here in Rhode Island, the species’ decline has been especially dramatic. It’s also been hard to quantify, thanks to a lookalike rabbit, the eastern cottontail, that’s also found across the state.”
Timber Company Committed to Woodcock, Young Forest, and People
When Henning Stabins was a boy, he lived on Cape Cod near a cranberry bog. “I used to get a thrill from going outside at dusk in the spring and listening to the woodcock singing near the bog, and watching their mating flights,” he says. Now a biologist for Weyerhaeuser, a large timber company with extensive holdings in North America, Stabins has maintained his affection for American woodcock and developed considerable skills as a birder, naturalist, and wildlife scientist.
The Avalonia Land Conservancy holds more than 3,200 acres in eight towns in southeastern Connecticut, most of them in the Ledyard-Coastal Focus Area for New England cottontail restoration. In 2011, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested that the conservancy consider making young forest to help cottontails on two of their parcels.