- Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Media Contact for MassWildlife property spotlight: Martin Burns WMA
Marion Larson, MassWildlife
Located in northeastern Massachusetts in the towns of Newbury and West Newbury, the Martin Burns Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was first established in 1959 with an initial parcel of 1,317 acres conveyed from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since then, the WMA has expanded to over 2,135 acres. Wildlife Management Areas help MassWildlife further its mission to restore, protect, and manage land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.
With its pine and hardwood forests, knolls of rocky terrain, and wetlands, Martin Burns is a great place to explore. Several unimproved roads loop through the property and are enjoyed by visitors for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. These roads are gated except during hunting seasons in the fall. For an off the beaten path experience, trekking beyond the old roadways and unmarked footpaths is encouraged on this and all of MassWildlife properties. Wildlife thrive in the WMA’s varied habitat types, which include numerous vernal pools, anadromous fish breeding waters, shallow and deep-water marshes, as well as actively managed young forest, shrublands, and fields. The headwaters of Cart Creek and Little River originate within the boundaries of the WMA.
Prior to government ownership, early landowners cut trees for fuelwood and wildfires swept through the area. The cleared land was eventually converted to pasture for grazing sheep and cattle. When MassWildlife acquired the land, the old pastures on the property were overgrown. Over time, with support from conservation partners, MassWildlife has cleared fields and created additional openings of varying sizes in the forest. Invasive exotic plant control measures were also established to promote native food producing shrubs and trees. These shrubland and young forest habitats benefit less common wildlife such as American woodcock, ruffed grouse, blue-winged warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, Eastern towhee, field sparrow, and whip-poor-will. Maintenance continues on a multi-year cycle of mowing, cutting, and treating invasive plants. The property is now a beautiful mosaic of hardwood forest, barrens, open grass fields, and rocky terrain.
Wildlife recreation at this WMA consists mostly of watching wildlife and hunting. Martin Burns is a year-round hot spot for local birders and naturalists. Sightings of thrushes, woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and many other songbirds are common. The maintained fields and field edges offer great habitat for field sparrows, prairie warblers, and indigo buntings. Common wildlife such as Eastern cottontail, deer, squirrels, foxes, and coyotes can are also present. Martin Burns is home to reptiles and amphibians including newts, red-backed and spotted salamanders, frogs, snapping turtles, Northern water snakes, and the common garter snake. A few rare insects and reptiles also enjoy the protection of the WMA.
In the fall, hunters take part in deer, pheasant, and woodcock hunting; spring turkey hunting is also common. To provide a safe and quality hunting experience, controlled pheasant hunts are conducted on Saturdays and holidays. Blaze orange caps are required for pheasant hunters and during the deer firearms seasons, hunters must wear blaze orange on their head, chest, and back. To ensure visibility for hunters and other WMA visitors during the October - December hunting seasons, MassWildlife encourages all WMA visitors to don a blaze orange hat or vest.
Make time for a walk on the wild side and experience this beautiful property with friends and family throughout the year! To plan your visit, start by visiting MassWildlife’s online Wild Lands Viewer at mass.gov/dfw/wildlife-lands.