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News from MassWildlife's Habitat Programs

MassWildlife’s Habitat Programs are active in all areas of the Commonwealth. A sample of habitat-related publications and media stories are listed below.



  • Ruffing it in Massachusetts: What makes good grouse habitat?: Ruffed grouse rely on a mixture of young forest habitats for food and cover. MassWildlife actively manages and promotes patchy young forest habitat on some of its WMAs that grouse—and many other declining wildlife species—depend on. (MassWildlife Monthly newsletter, October 2020)

  • Birds and the bees thrive at Montague Plains: A number of regional experts report a pronounced increase in the number of rare birds and insects at the site of intensive habitat restoration by MassWildlife. (MassWildlife Monthly newsletter, September 2020)

  • MassWildlife shows habitat progress: MassWildlife demonstrates the value of habitat restoration on a tour of Herman Covey Wildlife Management Area in Belchertown. (Belchertown, Granby & Amherst Sentinel, October 2020)

  • Landscape-scale Conservation by Michael W. Nelson and Chris Buelow, Massachusetts Wildlife, 2020. MassWildlife engages in landscape-scale conservation through three main activities: biological survey and monitoring, land protection, and ecological restoration and habitat management. 

  • Tight-Knit Grasslands by Karro Frost and Robert Wernerehl, Massachusetts Wildlife, 2020. Sandplain grasslands are an important habitat for wildlife in Massachusetts. MassWildlife is focused on restoring and managing these natural communities through methods such as cutting of trees, mowing, and prescribed fire.

  • Flexing Freshwater Mussels by Peter Hazelton, Massachusetts Wildlife, 2020. The brook floater is one of three freshwater mussels listed as endangered in Massachusetts. MassWildlife and partners have worked to protect and restore the brook floater in the Commonwealth and throughout its range.



  • Hamant Brook: Restoring a Landscape for Trout and Turtles by Caleb Slater, Massachusetts Wildlife, 2018. The removal of three dams on Hamant Brook in Sturbridge has enhanced habitat for Eastern Brook Trout and Wood Turtles.

  • A Prescription for Fire by Alex Entrup, Massachusetts Wildlife, 2018. What it takes to plan a safe and successful prescribed burn that results in productive wildlife habitat.

2017 and older

  • Special Issue: State Wildlife Action Plan Massachusetts Wildlife, 2017. The Massachusetts State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) is a critical resource for MassWildlife and all of its partners. It greatly enhances our collective ability to conserve the 570 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) identified in the SWAP and the 24 habitat types that are essential to their survival. In this issue, we tell the story of the five SWAP habitats, to give readers an idea of the life histories of and threats to the species in each habitat, as well as some ongoing conservation actions.

  • Managing a Small Woodlot​​​​​​ by Bill Davis, Massachusetts Wildlife, 2017. A landowner's account of improving the quality and diversity of forest habitat to benefit wildlife.

  • Editorial, Cutting Trees for Conservation by Jack Buckley, Massachusetts Wildlife, 2017. A summary of the three habitat management initiatives on MassWildlife lands and how MassWildlife impacts private land.

  • Editorial: Great Resources Require Great Management​​​​​​ by Jack Buckley, Massachusetts Wildlife, 2015. MassWildlife works towards not only acquiring new land, but managing the land already under protection.

  • Hugging Baby Trees by Marianne Piché, Massachusetts Wildlife, 2015. In order to conserve the New England cottontail and a host of other species, it is crucial to create and maintain a significant amount of ephemeral young forest habitat. There was also an update published on this piece (Update: New England Cottontail Conservation​​​​​) in Massachusetts Wildlife, 2019.

  • Building Local by Rebecca DiGirolomo, Northern Woodlands, 2015. MassWildlife's Field Headquarters building in Westborough incorporates wood products harvested from MassWildlife's Wildlife Management Areas. Timber harvests were conducted on WMAs to benefit wildlife that relies on young forest habitats, and the red oak and cherry wood in the building was cut and processed by local companies. This article follows the process from harvest to milling to installation.

  • Demographic response of a shrubland bird to habitat creation, succession, and disturbance in a dynamic landscape by Michael Akresh, David King, and Robert Brooks, Forest Ecology and Management, 2015. This paper shows bird response to recent habitat management work completed at MassWildlife's Montague Plains WMA.

  • Habitat saving our rare habitatsFollowing the retreat of the last glacier, sand plain grasslands and pine barrens were found from Maine to Southern New Jersey. Although southeastern Massachusetts has the second largest region of pine barrens remaining in the world, the state has lost 60 to 70 percent of its original pine barrens. And it’s estimated that 80 percent of the world’s remaining sand plain grasslands are on the Islands of Nantucket, Tuckernuck, and Martha’s Vineyard. (WCAI Radio, February 2015)

  • A safe place for wildlife to thriveAt MassWildlife's Frances A. Crane Wildlife Management Area, the grassland is an important habitat for many species, including the grasshopper sparrow and the upland sandpiper. Chris Buelow, Restoration Ecologist with MassWildlife's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, and Jason Zimmer, MassWildlife's Southeast District Supervisor  take us on a tour of the Frances Crane WMA. (WCAI Radio, July 2014)

  • The Working Forest and Hunters: A Symbiotic Relationship by Tom Wansleben, Massachusetts Wildlife, 2013. Hunters rarely consider the many benefits provided to themselves and our wildlife resources by those who own working forest lands and those who make a living harvesting our renewable forestry resources.

  • An Eco-Transformation in Plymouth: The Eel River Headwaters Restoration Project by Alex Hackman and Jeremy Bell, Massachusetts Wildlife, 2011. An ambitious project to return an old cranberry operation to its natural state bears fruit.

  • Editorial: Bringing Back our Bunny ​by Wayne F. MacCallum, Massachusetts Wildlife, 2011. Once abundant throughout Massachusetts, New England cottontail populations are at risk.


Check out MassWildlife's Habitat Management and Land Protection Youtube playlist to see footage from projects and presentations by our staff.