Opportunities for Towns and Land Trusts
The Upland Program has made this management opportunity available to towns and land trusts. Initial reclamation planning, administration, and costs are supported by the Upland Program. As part of a cooperative agreement, the town or land trust would be responsible for maintaining the area via periodic rotational mowing, brush cutting, or another technique, once the area is reclaimed. The town or land trust would also be responsible for monitoring the utilization of the area by wildlife using methodology developed by the Upland Program. Additional criteria would have to be met as outlined below.
- Project site must be open to public hunting and fishing.
- Reclamation areas should be greater than or equal to 15 acres -
alone or in conjunction with adjacent early-successional habitats.
Priority will be given to larger sites and those occurring within
1/4 mile of other open habitats.
Generally, reclaimed habitats should occur near existing fields, or open wetlands. The Upland Program seeks to avoid forest fragmentation and prefers sites at the margins of extensively forested areas to maximize habitat benefits of open lands and minimize the deleterious effects of edge. These include increased predation on nesting songbirds by edge-associated predators such as skunks, domestic cats, raccoons, coyotes, etc.
- Habitat reclamation will typically occur on sites with vegetation < 6-8" in diameter. Anything over 8" is generally cost prohibitive.
- Priority will be given to those sites that have species, especially threatened or endangered species, occurring on or nearby that will benefit from reclamation.
- Projects must address control of any invasive exotic plant species that may occur on the site.
- Reclamation projects will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the MassWildlife Upland Program Coordinator.
The first town to take advantage of this opportunity was the town of Dennis on Cape Cod. The Upland Program reclaimed 15 acres of pasture on the town-owned Crowe's Pasture Conservation Area, with partial funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. The objective of the project is to create a coastal grassland, a globally rare natural community.
All potential project sites will be prioritized based on their landscape setting, using the criteria listed above. Projects ranked the highest will be completed first. Completion of any project is dependent on availability of funds, which are appropriated annually by the state legislature, and authorized by the 1996 Open Space Bond Act, which is up for renewal in 2001. If you are interested in having an abandoned field reclaimed in your town, and it meets the criteria listed above, contact the Upland Program Coordinator for more details.