- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
- Department of Fish and Game
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards Climate Change Habitat Resilience Grants to Municipalities and Conservation Organizations
Craig Gilvarg, Director of Communications
BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $216,078 in grants through the Climate Change Resilience Grant Opportunity Program to five conservation organizations and municipalities. The funds, administered through the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), will be used in six habitat improvement projects totaling 237 acres in seven Massachusetts communities.
“The Commonwealth’s investments in improving wildlife habitat will assist in the restoration of regional biodiversity throughout the state,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through the Climate Change Habitat Resilience Grant Opportunity Program, the positive management actions being taken are natural solutions that will result in a more diverse, resilient landscape of wildlife, plants and other natural environments.”
“Improving climate change resiliency for the Commonwealth’s natural resources is a key priority of our Administration, and communities, private landowners, and the general public will greatly benefit from the Climate Change Habitat Resilience Grant funds,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “This program offers a wonderful opportunity to address conservation needs in both rural and more densely populated areas throughout the state.”
In its first year, the Climate Change Resilience Grant Opportunity Program seeks to provide financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to enhance climate-vulnerable wildlife habitats and make them more resilient to climate change by funding habitat improvement projects in ecological communities disproportionally susceptible to climate change, including, but not necessarily limited to:
- Fire adapted natural communities; and,
- Riparian communities and floodplains along cold water streams and other climate-vulnerable wetland/aquatic systems (e.g. coastal marshes).
“Habitat management restores ecological integrity through removal of stressors that limit our wildlife and natural communities’ ability to respond to changing environmental conditions,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Conservation science has repeatedly demonstrated that continuous active habitat management activities for common and rare wildlife and plants are necessary to achieve ecological resiliency and diversity.”
“This grant program is a great complement to the Department of Fish and Game’s wildlife habitat management efforts and furthers our climate resilience goals,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon. “Partnering with municipalities and conservation organizations helps us achieve wildlife and ecological conservation goals benefitting wildlife, the landscape, and the people of Massachusetts.”
The program seeks proposed habitat management activities that reduce stressors adversely affecting proposed project sites, thereby enhancing climate resilience. For example, projects in fire-adapted communities that improve habitat quality, native species diversity, remove invasive species, and mitigate risk of extreme wildfire behavior reduce climate vulnerability. Similarly, projects in coldwater stream riparian zones that maintain or enhance tree canopy coverage, reduce erosion or other adverse alterations to stream water quality or hydrology, and/or control invasive species may enhance climate resilience.
“Improving ecological biodiversity can only take place where certain environmental conditions exist,” said MassWildlife Director Mark Tisa. “The MassWildlife Climate Change Resilience Grant allows us to focus conservation efforts on habitat management activities in those special places which over time, benefit both common and rare wildlife living in our communities.”
The following projects will receive MassWildlife Climate Change Resilience Habitat Grants:
- Falmouth – The Town of Falmouth has been awarded $28,000 conduct a prescribed burn at Coonamessett Fields, a site within an Environmental Justice Community, to improve grassland habitat. Eastern meadowlarks, grasshopper sparrows, endangered pollinators like moths, native bees, and tiger beetles will benefit from this management action.
- Great Barrington – The Berkshire Natural Resources Council will receive $37,495 to improve floodplain forests by removing invasives along the Housatonic River and Rising Pond, sites within Environmental Justice Communities. As one of the few major rivers designated as a coldwater fishery resource (CFR), removing invasive trees, plants and shrubs will enhance floodplain growth conditions of large-canopy trees in the Housatonic River. The trees create shaded microclimates (pockets) of cool water benefiting the longnose sucker, a state-listed fish and CFR species. Additionally, when large dead trees fall into the riverbed, it will provide valuable sheltering structure for young fish.
- Marlborough – The City of Marlborough has been awarded $26,667 to improve pitch pine – oak forest at the Desert Natural Area. Mowing and timber harvest of trees will be for ongoing habitat maintenance and create safer conditions for future planned prescribed fires. Whip-poor-wills, brown thrashers, wild lupine, state listed moths and an endangered reptile will be the beneficiaries of a multi-phase management plan.
- Monson/Wales– The Norcross Wildlife Foundation will receive $45,450 to improve grasslands and fields through removing invasive plants such as bittersweet, autumn olive, and multiflora rose at Chapin Meadow. Tree mowing and timber harvest of white pines that dominated the former pitch pine oak forest is also part of the habitat restoration plan. Native bees, and less common birds such as eastern towhees, field sparrows and brown thrashers will benefit from these activities.
- North Andover – The Trustees of Reservations will receive $49,050 to restore oak-hickory barrens at the Weir Hill Reservation. Tree mowing and timber harvesting will prepare the site for a future prescribed fire. These actions will allow yellow indigo plants to thrive while serving as a critical host plant for endangered pollinators such as the frosted elfin butterfly and the scrub oak feeder moth. Exposed bare mineral soil from these management actions will also benefit a highly specialized state-listed plant.
- Sheffield – The Trustees have been awarded $28,512 to improve habitat on Bartholomew’s Cobble’s Ashley Pasture by removing invasive plant and woody species such as multi-flora rose, mugwort, Asian bush honeysuckle and oriental bittersweet. The restoration goal is to benefit birds such as bobolink and American kestrel, and a state-listed plant, while increasing the ecological resiliency of the Pasture’s grassland habitat.
“Norcross is a vital partner in creating a healthier and more sustainable environment,” said Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer). “Under Executive Director Ed Hood's leadership, this award is well deserved. By undertaking these efforts, Norcross Wildlife Foundation is eliminating invasive species; fostering growth and rehabilitation for native flora and fauna.”
“I want to congratulate the Norcross Wildlife Foundation for being awarded this competitive grant,” said Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren). “Norcross and the Department of Fish and Game do outstanding work protecting the land and wildlife which make central Massachusetts such a unique place to live.”
“I am thankful to the Department of Fish and Game for granting Weir Hill Reservation a Climate Change Habitat Resilience Grant,” said Representative Christina Minicucci (D-North Andover). “The preserved land at Weir Hill Reservation sits on our town reservoir and ensuring its continued environmental health is essential to the overall health of our community. This grant will allow for the cultivation of plant life necessary to host endangered pollinators, a critical component of long term environmental sustainability.”