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Westborough — In its third year, the MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program provides financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to improve and manage habitat for game species and other Species of Greatest Conservation Need as identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan. The projects also aim to expand opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor recreation, and complement the ongoing habitat management efforts on state lands. This year (FY18), Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton provided MassWildlife with $500,000 for the third year of this popular financial assistance program. Details on how to apply for the MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant are posted at mass.gov/dfw/habitat-grant. The application period is now open with a proposal deadline of October 30, 2017.
During the second year of the program (FY17), MassWildlife received 45 applications for grant funding with requests totaling over $1.3 million. Twelve proposals were selected by the team of reviewers for funding. This funding went to 11 different municipalities, private citizens, and both large and small NGOs for projects in 14 towns. These wildlife habitat management projects included invasive species control, old field habitat creation, young forest enhancement, waterfowl habitat creation, and coastal heathlands improvement. In total, approximately 500 acres were successfully managed due to this funding opportunity, including the Town of Lenox who combated the invasive hardy kiwi vine in Kennedy Park, the Town of Amherst who improved and expanded old field habitats on three town owned natural areas, and the Massachusetts Forest Trust who created shrubland and young forest habitat in Hawley and Ashfield. The response from the towns and cities, conservation focused non-governmental organizations, sporting clubs and private citizens, for this wildlife habitat program indicate the strong need for these funding opportunities to preserve, conserve, improve and create wildlife habitats across the entire state. The increased funding for FY18 will result in even more habitat management projects to improve our natural areas for wildlife and outdoor recreation.