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 maintains a number of habitat related programs (described below), and 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 pdf format of executive_summary.pdf

The Strategy includes:

  • A brief history of the Division and past successful efforts to conserve the biodiversity of the Commonwealth. Chapter 4 pdf format of chapter_four.pdf
file size 4MB
  • A review of the landscape changes which have affected wildlife populations, and an assessment of problems facing wildlife today. Chapter 2 pdf format of chapter_two.pdf
and Chapter 3 pdf format of chapter_three.pdf
file size 1MB
  • An explanation of the process used to identify wildlife habitats and species in the greatest need of conservation. Chapter 5 pdf format of chapter_five.pdf
  • Identification of the primary strategies needed to conserve these wildlife populations and their habitats. Chapter 7 pdf format of chapter_seven.pdf
  • 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 pdf format of chapter_eight.pdf
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 pdf format of chapter_six.pdf
file size 1MB

Information for each habitat type in greatest need of conservation Chapter 9 pdf format of chapter_nine.pdf
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 pdf format of chapter_ten.pdf
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 Related Programs

A dozen programs within the agency are coordinated to apply conservation strategies identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan.

  1. 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).
  2. Spatial Data Mapping & Coordination - Focuses on tracking habitat management efforts by all DFW programs in a central geodatabase.
  3. Ecological Restoration Program - A component of the DFW Biodiversity Initiative that 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.”
  4.  Habitat Program - A component of the DFW Biodiversity Initiative that focuses on declining grassland, shrubland, and young forest habitats across Massachusetts in support of DFW landscape goals for wildlife habitat.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. New England Cottontail Initiative - Funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and coordinated by the Wildlife Management Institute, this new regional program focuses on identification, prioritization, and management of shrubland and young forest habitats to support the declining New England cottontail. Learn more about New England Cottontail Conservation at

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.

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