The information below is intended to assist people who want to know about the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife's (DFW) habitat management goals and practices.
The Division's Habitat Management Goal is to provide a range of forested & non-forested conditions to conserve the biological diversity of species, communities, and ecosystems across the landscape of the Commonwealth. In order to achieve this goal, DFW has established a comprehensive State Wildlife Action Plan to guide and coordinate the various habitat management programs within the agency.
Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (aka State Wildlife Action Plan)
A 700+ page document published in 2006 that serves not only as a guidance document for DFW goals and activities, but also for other land management entities who are making habitat management decisions on their properties. Compiled by Division staff with input and comments from a variety of groups in Massachusetts. Executive Summary
The Strategy includes:
- A brief history of the Division and past successful efforts to conserve the biodiversity of the Commonwealth. Chapter 4 file size 4MB
- A review of the landscape changes which have affected wildlife populations, and an assessment of problems facing wildlife today. Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 file size 1MB
- An explanation of the process used to identify wildlife habitats and species in the greatest need of conservation. Chapter 5
- Identification of the primary strategies needed to conserve these wildlife populations and their habitats. Chapter 7
- A recognition of the need to monitor conservation efforts to: 1) ensure that time and money are providing desired results; and 2) determine if changing conditions (e.g. climate, development) require a change in strategy. Chapter 8 file size 1MB
The Massachusetts' Wildlife Conservation Strategy (Wildlife Action Plan) identifies 22 habitat types and 257 wildlife species in greatest need of conservation. The habitat types range from large-scale habitats such as Upland Forests; to medium-scale habitats like Grasslands, to small-scale habitats such as Vernal Pools. Chapter 6 file size 1MB
Information for each habitat type in greatest need of conservation Chapter 9 file size 4MB includes:
- Habitat description
- The types of wildlife in association with that habitat
- The problems and threats faced by them
- A map showing the distribution of the habitat type across the state, when available
- A listing of the conservation strategies needed to conserve the habitat
- Monitoring requirements that will ensure the success of the conservation strategies
There is also information about the 257 kinds of wildlife in greatest need of conservation Chapter 10 file size 14MB occurring in one or more of the above 22 habitat types including:
- Conservation status ranking and habitat association
- Species Life History
- State distribution and abundance
- Habitat requirement
- Conservation threats
DFW Habitat Management Programs
A dozen programs within the agency are coordinated to apply conservation strategies identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan.
- Land Acquisition Program - Focuses on habitat protection through conservation of openspace either by fee acquisition (transfer of private lands to public lands) or by conservation easement (purchase of development and public access rights while underlying fee interest remains in private ownership).
- Spatial Data Mapping & Coordination - Focuses on tracking habitat management efforts by all DFW programs in a central geodatabase.
- Ecological Restoration Program - Focuses on habitat restoration at sites of exceptional ecological significance identified from DFW's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program database that are on public lands under permanent conservation protection.
- Upland Habitat Management Program - The Upland Program was created to address the decline of unique grassland and shrubland habitats in the state and focuses primarily on reclamation and management of, abandoned agricultural areas on DFW lands. (Also see Upland Bird Management.)
- Forest Management Program - Focuses on establishing a range of forest age classes to support a diversity of wildlife species on DFW lands. Applies sustainable forestry practices to establish structurally diverse young forest habitat required by declining early-successional wildlife species, and establishes forest reserves to observe natural disturbance processes and provide unique late-successional habitats for wildlife species that prefer these areas.
- District Management Efforts - Focus on DFW District office staff efforts at maintaining open field habitats and abandoned orchard habitats in coordination with the Upland Program.
- Target Fish Community - The Target Fish Community (TFC) effort illustrates what a river fish population should look like in southern New England rivers and represents a measurable goal for restoration efforts. A 5 MB technical report on this effort is posted in this area.
- Coldwater Fishery Resource Identification - A project to identify waters that the Division has designated to be Coldwater Fishery Resources (CFR's) was initiated in 2001. These waters have native brook trout, slimy sculpin, longnose sucker or lake chub present or are stocked with Atlantic salmon fry or parr. This project has been ongoing and the CFR list is updated based on fish samples collected each year.
- Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) - Funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, this program focuses on managing private lands to support state-listed rare species.
- Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) - Funded by the U.S. Natural Resource Conservation Service, this program focuses on assisting private landowners who want to manage for declining wildlife species associated with early-successional and other unique habitats.
- American Woodcock Initiative - Co-sponsored by the Ruffed Grouse Society, the Wildlife Management Institute and DFW, this nationwide program focuses on habitat management on private lands to benefit American woodcock and other declining wildlife populations through maintenance of field and shrubland habitats, and the creation of young forest habitat in Massachusetts.
- New England Cottontail Initiative - Funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and coordinated by the Wildlife Management Institute, this new regional program will focus on identification, prioritization, and management of shrubland and young forest habitats to support the declining New England cottontail.
DFW Biological Monitoring Information
Learn more about DFW's biological monitoring efforts by accessing a searchable biological monitoring database. This database will allow you to access biological monitoring data on plants, animals (primarily songbirds), vernal pools and other resources that has been collected on various DFW properties. These data may be of interest to:
- Anyone who has visited particular DFW lands and wants to know more about natural resources on those lands;
- Anyone who plans to visit DFW lands and wants to know more about the plants and animals they can expect to see; or
- Anyone who is curious about the types of natural resource information DFW collects on its lands.