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- HISTORIC HABITAT PROTECTION PROJECT IN LEVERETT AND SHUTESBURY
- OUTDOOR USERS: THANK A LANDOWNER TODAY
- EAGLE COUNT DATE CHANGE
- MASSWILDLIFE AT HOME SHOWS AND SPORTSMENS SHOWS
- HOUSING APPEAL FOR WOOD DUCKS IN MASSACHUSETTS
- 2011 PRELIMINARY ARCHERY AND SHOTGUN DEER SEASON RESULTS
- UPCOMING PUBLIC MEETINGS
Released January 4, 2012HISTORIC HABITAT PROTECTION PROJECT IN LEVERETT AND SHUTESBURY
In late December, the Commonwealth's largest private land conservation deal since the 1920's was finalized, resulting in the protection of 3,486 acres of working forest land in the towns of Leverett and Shutesbury. A conservation restriction acquired by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and its Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) from North Amherst-based W.D. Cowls for $8.8 million is the largest on a contiguous block of privately owned land in Massachusetts. The 5.4 square mile area encompasses almost all of Brushy Mountain and some other nearby parcels of property.
"This successful and historic land conservation initiative is the result of a unique partnership that will protect this treasure for generations," said Governor Deval Patrick. "This land will forever be home to iconic wildlife, while remaining a productive working forest that supports local jobs and allows hunters, anglers and hikers to enjoy the great outdoors." The Kestrel Land Trust and Franklin Land Trust worked closely with DFG, to accomplish this historic land protection effort.
The property will be known as the Paul C. Jones Working Forest in honor of Cowls' recently deceased 8th generation family leader. Mr. Paul C. Jones, who for four decades spearheaded the company's forestry and lumber manufacturing operations, also promoted public sportsman access on thousands of acres of timberland throughout his lifetime. "We're obviously in it for the long run and this conservation achievement demonstrates how commercial forest management can complement open space conservation and recreation," said Cinda Jones, 9th generation co-owner and president. "My dad was really proud that we were making this happen and I'm so proud that we're naming the conserved forest after him." Cowls will continue to own and manage the woodland and conduct sustainable forestry operations under a state-approved Forest Stewardship Plan. Simultaneous with selling the restriction, Cowls added Forest Stewardship Council Green Certification to its existing Tree Farm and Chapter 61 certifications on the property.
"I am pleased to support this truly unique conservation opportunity with a $1 million grant through my new Landscape Partnership program. This is exactly the type of collaborative effort we want to encourage. This acquisition protects a very large, unfragmented forest ecosystem - an important climate change adaptation strategy," said Secretary Sullivan. "Equally important, it protects a vital working landscape that supports a sustainable, local forest industry. Statewide, forestry operations contribute $600 million annually to local rural economies in Massachusetts."
"Many kinds of wildlife, including wide ranging mammals such as black bear, moose, and bobcat, and forest birds such as the Scarlet tanager, Blackburnian warbler, and Canada warbler, require large, intact forests to thrive," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. "We are grateful to W.D. Cowls for the opportunity to protect this incredible habitat for wildlife while maintaining sustainable forestry operations and providing public recreational access to an area with outstanding natural resources."
"This project is an example what can be achieved when state and federal agencies, local and national conservation organizations, and sportsmen come together to work on a common conservation goal," said Wayne MacCallum, Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Approximately $3 million of the total is state funding, comprising DFG's investment of over $1.4 million from the Commonwealth's open space bond authorization and $500,000 in Wildland Stamp funds from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses, as well as $1 million awarded to DFG and the land trusts by EEA's new Landscape Partnership Grant Program. The two land trusts secured $5 million toward the purchase through the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Forest Service's Forest Legacy Program, which receives funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The land trusts also successfully secured $839,600 through two grants from the Open Space Institute (OSI) -- the Western Massachusetts Land Protection Fund and Saving New England's Wildlife--which were made possible with grants from the Kohlberg Foundation and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation respectively.
"In addition to a significant conservation project, this acquisition is also a tribute to the Cowls' family dedication to creating a lasting conservation legacy," said George Darey, Chairman of the state Fisheries and Wildlife Board. About 70 percent of the project area is recognized by MassWildlife as BioMap2 Core Habitat, and 97 percent of the property is characterized as critical natural landscape - defined as an area that is well suited to support ecological processes, disturbances, and wide-ranging species. Core Habitat identifies key areas to ensure the long-term persistence of wildlife species of conservation concern, exemplary natural communities, and intact ecosystems across the Commonwealth.
The Paul C. Jones Working Forest abuts a mosaic of 630 acres of additional permanently protected open space and is located between several significant protected public lands: the Mt. Toby State Demonstration Forest, the Quabbin Reservoir, the Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area, and the Wendell and Erving State Forests. Combined, these areas provide a critical core and corridor for wildlife living and moving through these protected areas and larger forested regions. For a map of the property visit the Energy and Environmental Affairs web link at: www.mass.gov/dfwele/press/paul_c_jones_working_forest_map.pdf
With the New Year just beginning and our fishing, hunting, or wildlife watching adventures becoming fond memories, it's time to remember the private landowners who, through their generosity, helped to make these experiences possible. "Access to fishing, hunting, hiking, or watching wildlife is a privilege provided by landowners," says Marion Larson, MassWildlife Outreach Coordinator. "Let them know you appreciate it. If you have been recreating on local land trust or other private non-profit conservation lands, be sure to include those groups on your thank-you list." Larson offers the following suggestions for hunters, anglers, and other outdoor users when thanking private property owners who allow access for outdoor recreation:
- Be thoughtful and personal in expressing your appreciation, treating the landowner as you would like to be treated. If you are mentoring a new or young hunter, angler, birder or naturalist, include him or her in the process of thanking the landowner.
- Visit the landowner at the end of the season to express your appreciation in person; if possible, provide him or her with some of your fish and game harvest, share images, or a list of the wildlife you saw on their property.
- Send a personal note or card thanking him or her for the opportunity to use their land. Consider giving a small gift such as a certificate to a local restaurant, a gift basket, or a subscription to Massachusetts Wildlife magazine. In the case of a non-profit landowner, make a donation to their organization.
- Offer to assist with tasks around the property that would be helpful, or identify, clean up, and properly dispose of any illegal dumping that has occurred.
- Assist the landowner in protecting the property by documenting and reporting suspicious or illegal activities to the Environmental Police at (800) 632-8075.
"Hunting, fishing, birding, and other wildlife-related activities are traditions that will continue only if everyone follows the basic principles of being a responsible outdoor recreationist," Larson said. "Take a few moments to reflect on our outdoor traditions, including the importance of access to private lands in maintaining these traditions, and what you can do in 2012 to ensure that these recreational opportunities will continue to be available to you and future generations of outdoor users."
Friday, January 13, 2012 will be the new date for a concentrated survey of major rivers, lakes, reservoirs and the coast by staff from the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and volunteers across the state. Originally the date was set for January 6, 2012. In 2011, a record 107 bald eagles were documented in Massachusetts during the one-day event. This event is part of a nationwide Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey that is held every year in early January.
Anyone spotting an eagle from January 4, 2012 - January 18, 2012 is encouraged to report the sighting by email at Mass.email@example.com or by postal mail to "Eagle Survey" MassWildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581. Please provide date, time, location and town of eagle sightings, number of birds, juvenile or adult, and observer contact information.
The best eagle viewing locations at this time of year include:
- Belchertown - Enfield Lookout at Quabbin Reservoir. Eagles can be viewed at a long distance.
- West Boylston, Clinton, Sterling, Boylston - Wachusett Reservoir. Eagles can sometimes be viewed at a long distance from Routes 140 or Route 70.
- Lakeville - Long Point Road on the causeway between Pocksha Pond and Great Quitticas Pond. Eagles can be viewed at a long distance.
- Newburyport - Merrimack River at Cashman Park Boat Ramp or at Deer Island off Rte 1A (from the chain bridge). These are both good areas for eagles to be seen fairly close without the need of a spotting scope.
In January and February consider visiting with Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) staff at home shows and sportsmen's shows across the state. Learn about the common wildlife in your neighborhood at the home shows and share your latest fish story or hunting adventure or buy your license at the sportsmen's shows. The Boston Home Show at Suffolk Downs kicks off the show season January 27-29, 2012. The following weekend MassWildlife staff will be at the Eastern Massachusetts Home and Landscape Show at the Royal Trade Plaza in Marlborough on February 4-5, 2012. This year, sportsmen should note that the Eastern Fishing and Outdoor Exposition at the DCU Centre in Worcester begins on Friday, February 10 and ends Sunday, February 12, 2012. The following weekend, February 18-19, MassWildlife staff will greet visitors at the Crowne Plaza in Danvers, which is hosting the Essex County Home Show . And, in the last weekend of February, the Springfield Sportsmen's Show will begin Thursday, February 23 and ends on Sunday February, 26, 2012. Look for listings in the agency's web Calendar of Events and next month's newsletter for additional shows coming up in March.
There is a wildlife housing need in Massachusetts that conservationists of all kinds can support! The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is welcoming donations of constructed wood duck boxes or lumber for building boxes. Wood ducks are one of the few kinds of waterfowl (ducks and geese) that nest in cavities or holes in trees. There are not enough natural cavities available in the state for nesting, but constructed boxes have filled the gap. While wood ducks are wintering in warm, southern climes, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) biologists and technicians will soon be braving chilly winter temperatures on icy ponds, marshes, and other wetlands evaluating the condition of wood duck boxes and replacing boxes that are missing or in disrepair. "Wood duck hens will return to the same box to nest year after year," said H Heusmann, DFW Waterfowl Project Leader. "Imagine the plight of a wood duck hen coming back from wintering down south and finding her nesting site gone."
Heusmann noted that in 2009 when an appeal for wood duck boxes went out, the public response was gratifying. Within a month, of the call for wood duck nest boxes sportsmen, Boy Scouts, school groups, and other individual conservationists built and donated over 200 boxes, or the lumber to make wood duck boxes. This filled the immediate need for 2009 and was a very helpful boost for the 2010 season. Wood duck box plans are posted on the Division's website. Heusmann points out that these specific plans should be used as the design makes it simple to swap out parts and to place the boxes. Duck boxes need to be constructed with rough-cut pine, making the box easy to transport, and allowing newly-hatched ducklings a more secure foothold as they scramble up and out of the box for their first swim. Completed wood duck boxes can be dropped off at any of the five district offices located in Pittsfield, Belchertown, West Boylston, Acton, and Bourne, or the DFW Field Headquarters in Westborough during business days and hours. Depending on the weather, the window of opportunity for safe, strong ice to put up new boxes closes by late February, therefore, box delivery by early February would be ideal for this year's need. Unused boxes will be kept in storage and used in the following season.
For those interested conservationists don't have the time or ability to build a box but want to support this project, the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is also partnering with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in this appeal by accepting donations of money and materials that will go directly toward wood duck nest box construction. Mail a check to P. O. Box 47, Westborough, MA, 01581 or pay through the Foundation's website. Gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. For more information about this project, see the Great Outdoors Blog on wood duck box placement written last winter or contact H Heusmann at (508) 389-6321.
Preliminary information on the archery and shotgun deer season results
have been compiled though some check stations have yet to report their
tallies. For the 2011 archery deer season, a preliminary statewide total
of 3,689 deer were checked in at official deer check stations. The Western
District office tallied 397 deer while Connecticut Valley District office
reported 430. Central District stations checked 657 deer; Northeast
District, 995; and Southeast District checked 1,210 deer. During the
statewide shotgun season, licensed deer hunters checked in 5,343 deer.
The breakdown of deer checked by District check stations were: Western
District, 688; Connecticut Valley District, 725; Central District, 1,038;
Northeast District, 910; and Southeast District, 1,982. In addition
to the shotgun season total above, the DCR Quabbin Reservation Hunt
yielded 73 deer. All reported figures are preliminary; the final harvest
numbers will not be available until spring.
January 12 -- Natural Heritage Advisory Committee Meeting, Westborough -- The next meeting is scheduled for January 12, 2012, 1:30 - 4:30 pm at the DFW Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road (off North Drive), in Westborough.
January 18 -- Fisheries and Wildlife Board Meeting, Westborough -- The Fisheries and Wildlife Board will hold its January meeting on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 1PM at the DFW Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road (off North Drive), in Westborough. The inclement weather date will be Thursday, January 19 at 2 PM at the same location.
Both meetings are open to the public and the building is handicapped accessible. Directions to the Field Headquarters or call (508) 389-6300.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS - A complete
listing of wildlife related events, meetings and talks. Wildlife
workshops for educators, ice fishing events for kids and an advanced
fly-tying session are among the events coming up in January and February.
Last Updated: 01/06/2012