Habitat Management: Technical and Financial Assistance for Landowners

MassWildlife offers assistance to private and municipal property owners interested in managing their land for wildlife habitat conservation. Below are several ways in which we can help you.

MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program

For habitat management on conserved private or municipal lands

The MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program (MHMGP) was developed to establish partnerships between MassWildlife and private and municipal landowners to enhance habitat and increase recreational opportunities on properties that have been conserved across the state.  Recognizing that land protection is only the first step in maintaining the diverse habitats of Massachusetts, the MHMGP program aims to encourage landowners to engage in active habitat management on their properties to maximize the benefit to the various wildlife species of the state.

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MassWildlife – Natural Resources Conservation Services partnership

For habitat management on private forest or agricultural land

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife) is the state agency responsible for the restoration, conservation, and management of fish and wildlife resources and has an interest in working with private landowners to maintain or create habitat for species that are in decline in Massachusetts.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and land managers for the conservation of natural resources, including habitat for wildlife and fisheries resources.

Our partnership allows both agencies to more effectively meet our individual and collective obligations and priorities to conserve, protect, and enhance the state’s and nation’s wildlife and fisheries ecosystems. Under the partnership, a MassWildlife Habitat Biologist will visit your property with Natural Resources Conservation Service staff and provide specific habitat management options to be considered in the development of a Natural Resources Conservation Service funding assistance application for habitat management or wetland protection and restoration.

MassWildlife also provides the Natural Resources Conservation Service with technical assistance to develop habitat management funding applications that will benefit declining Working Lands for Wildlife species. In Massachusetts these include, New England Cottontail, Bog Turtle, Blanding’s Turtle, Spotted Turtle, and Wood Turtle. Habitat management or protection is being implemented in certain areas of the state to help reverse their declines. 

For information on Natural Resources Conservation Services technical and funding for habitat management, please contact Marianne Piché at: Marianne.Piche@mass.gov.

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MassWildlife young forest habitat management technical assistance

For young forest habitat management on conserved private or municipal land and forest or agricultural land

As part of its commitment working with private landowners on wildlife habitat management, MassWildlife is encouraging private or municipal landowners, land trusts, and conservation organizations to consider creating young forest habitat to benefit wildlife. To advance this conservation effort, MassWildlife’s habitat management staff is available to provide technical advice and guidance on financial assistance to qualified landowners.

Young forest habitats, areas of densely clustered tree saplings and sprouts, have become relatively scarce in Massachusetts over the past 50 years, and now occupy  less than 4% of the forested landscape. MassWildlife's habitat goals call for 10-15% young forest to conserve wildlife that rely on this unique habitat including New England cottontail, American woodcock, ruffed grouse, and golden-winged warbler. The species have experienced decline and need young forests for nesting, foraging for food and evading predators. These same habitats are also used by many songbirds, and by game species such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and black bear.  

How is young forest habitat created? Active habitat management activities such as cutting, burning, or mowing are standard techniques used to create and maintain young forest habitats. Selecting the most appropriate methods for a particular property can be daunting. To assist landowners, MassWildlife’s habitat biologists can offer technical advice and direct qualified landowners to funding opportunities that best align land and wildlife goals for the property.

To address initial funding needs, MassWildlife partners with the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) which offers cost-sharing opportunities for habitat creation.

For information on young forest habitat management, please contact Patrick Conlin at: Patrick.Conlin@mass.gov.


State Wildlife Action Plan species dependent on young forests and shrublands include:

  • North American Racer (Coluber constrictor)
  • Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
  • Smooth Greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis)
  • Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)
  • Whip-poor Will (Antrostomus vociferous)
  • Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus)
  • Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)
  • Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus)
  • Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)
  • American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
  • Mourning Warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia)
  • Nashville Warbler (Oreothlypis ruficapilla)
  • Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)
  • American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)
  • Prairie Warbler (Setophaga discolor)
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)
  • Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)
  • Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)
  • Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera)
  • Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora pinus)
  • White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)
  • Southern Bog Lemming (Synaptomys cooperi)
  • New England Cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis)
  • Chestnut-colored Sedge (Carex castanea)
  • American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)
  • Long-bracted Green Orchid (Coeloglossum viride)
  • Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis)
  • Wild Pink (Silene caroliana ssp. Pensylvanica)

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