BOSTON – Professional foresters and wildlife biologists from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will host a series of 11 tours this summer and fall to discuss state forestry and wildlife habitat management practices. DCR will host three public tours. DFG's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) will host eight public tours on the Commonwealth’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMA).
Two DCR tours will take participants through forested areas harvested for the purposes of watershed management, timber production as well as forest and wildlife habitat diversity. A third DCR tour will feature a small sawmill that produces rough lumber for local home and agricultural uses.
"The Patrick-Murray Administration is interested in engaging the public on issues related to forests and welcomes people to share their thoughts, questions and concerns while enjoying a walk in the woods," said DCR Commissioner Edward M. Lambert, Jr.
The MassWildlife tours will occur across the entire state and will focus on abandoned agricultural lands that have been reclaimed into shrubland and grassland habitat to support both rare species and other native wildlife species of conservation concern.
"Both grassland and shrubland habitats have declined dramatically throughout the Commonwealth over the past century, and native plants and animals associated with these open habitats have declined as well, sometimes at alarming rates," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. "We encourage people to attend one or more of these events to learn how active habitat management bolsters native wildlife populations."
The state lands tours will be conducted rain or shine. Participants should wear sturdy footwear and bring bug repellant. Directions to meeting places and descriptions of each site are listed below.
Tuesday, August 16, 6:00 p.m.
DCR Quabbin Reservoir, Belchertown
This tour will demonstrate results from several timber harvest operations, including, plantation management, conducted on the watershed over the past decade. DCR will discuss how forest regeneration achieves watershed management goals for species diversity and forest age structure.
DIRECTIONS: Meet at the Quabbin Visitor Center 485 Ware Road (Route 9) Belchertown to carpool to the sites.
Thursday, August 18, 6:30 p.m.
Dunstable Brook WMA,Tyngsborough
This tour will take participants through portions of a 50 acre complex of abandoned fields, which support rare species including the wood turtle. These abandoned fields were reclaimed in 2009, and the work included establishment of three wood turtle nesting areas as well as 15 acres of tree clearing that was done to reconnect separate field areas. Biologists will discuss the benefits of directly enhancing rare species habitat and the benefits of reestablishing large open habitat patches to benefit native shrubland birds in need of conservation. Biologists will also discuss on site invasive plant control work.
DIRECTIONS: Meet at the DFG parking area on the west side of Dunstable Road. From Route 3, take Exit 34 onto Westford Road toward Westford. Proceed to the traffic light at the intersection of Westford Road and Dunstable Road (locally known as Flint’s Corner). Turn right onto Dunstable Road. Pass Red Gate Lane on your left, and the parking area will be on your left.
Tuesday, August 23, 6:00 p.m.
DCR Lawton State Forest, Athol
This tour will take participants to two sites, a former Christmas tree plantation that has been managed by DCR to create and maintain a range of tree age classes in young forest habitat, and a shelterwood system designed to regenerate eastern white pine and native hardwoods. Discussions will also focus on future options for forest management.
DIRECTIONS: Meet at the Lawton State Forest, Townsend Road, Athol (North of the Chestnut Street intersection). DCR will post signs to the meeting site.
Thursday, August 25, 6:30 p.m.
Leyden WMA, Leyden
Tour extensive areas of reclaimed abandoned field habitat and reclaimed low-bush blueberry fields (bring a small container to take some blueberries home with you), and enjoy fine views of the Deerfield Valley. Learn about and discuss the plight of native shrubland birds with MassWildlife Biologists, and the on-going treatment of invasive plants at the site.
DIRECTIONS: Meet at the DFG parking area on the south side of Glen Road in Leyden. From I-91 take Exit 28 onto Route 10 west into Bernardston. Turn south onto Route 5 and 10 toward Greenfield. Turn right on West Mountain Road (if you go over a set of railroad tracks, you've gone too far), then bear left onto Eden Trail. Follow Eden Trail to the intersection with Eden Road then turn right on Eden Road and follow uphill to the intersection with Glen Road. Turn left onto Glen Road and the parking area will be on your left.
Tuesday, August 30, 6:00 p.m.
DCR Rough Cut Lumber Tour, New Salem
The C&M Rough Cut Lumber Sawmill is located at the southern end of Old North Dana Road in New Salem. Jim Conkey, the mill operator/owner will demonstrate how he processes trees into lumber. Mr. Conkey specializes in custom orders for rough cut lumber and firewood. If time allows, the tour will include a visit to an irregular shelterwood (what's this?) harvest on the Quabbin Forest.
DIRECTIONS: Meet at the DCR Water Supply Protection Office located at 21 Elm Street in New Salem.
September 1, 6:30 p.m.
Martin Burns WMA, Newbury
Walk through portions of a 90 acre complex of abandoned pasture lands that support rare species including dragonflies and turtles. This 90-acre complex includes about 20 acres of tree clearing completed in 2008 to reconnect separate portions of old pasture areas. Learn about and discuss the benefits of reestablishing large open habitat patches to benefit native shrubland birds in need of conservation, and the impact this work has on existing rare species. Biologists will also discuss on-going invasive plant control efforts at the site.
DIRECTIONS: Meet at the DFG parking area on the north side of Orchard Street.
From I-95 take Exit 55 for Central Street. At the end of the exit ramp, turn right onto Central Street. Continue on Central Street to the intersection with Orchard Street. Take the sharp left turn onto Orchard Street and follow Orchard Street until you reach the DFW parking area on your left.
September 8, 6:30 p.m.
Eugene Moran WMA, Windsor
Walk through portions of a 90-acre complex of abandoned pasture lands that support native shrubland birds in need of conservation, and enjoy fine views of the Mt. Greylock Range, and if the sky is clear, the Catskill Mountains in New York State. Biologists will also discuss on-going invasive plant control efforts at the site.
DIRECTIONS: Meet at the DFG parking area on the east side of Route 8A in Windsor. From Route 9, turn north onto Route 8A in the center of Windsor adjacent to the General Store/Post Office. Follow Route 8A north a short ways to the large DFG parking area on your right.
Thursday, September 15, 6:30 p.m.
Francis Crane WMA, Falmouth
Visit two portions of this WMA managed for rare species habitat using a combination of prescribed fire and mechanical mowing. The tour begins in the northern portion of the WMA and continues across portions of an abandoned airstrip that has been reclaimed into grassland habitat that supports rare species including the grasshopper sparrow. The tour will end in the southern portion of the WMA looking at reclaimed pitch pine/oak savannah and discuss the positive impacts this work has had on both rare species habitat and reducing wildfire danger.
DIRECTIONS: Meet at the DFG parking area on the north side of Rt. 151. Cross the Bourne Bridge on Route 28 onto Cape Cod, and follow Route 28 south for about four miles to the intersection with Route 151. Take Route 151 east towards Mashpee. Turn left into the DFG parking area just beyond the Nickelodeon Theatre.
Thursday, September 22, 6:30 p.m.
Millers River WMA, Athol
Walk through the Cass Meadow portion of the Miller’s River WMA. This a unique combination of state, town, and private conservation land at the confluence of the Miller's River and the Tully River in the middle of downtown Athol. These are abandoned agricultural lands that are mowed periodically to provide shrubland bird habitat.
DIRECTIONS: Meet at the gate on the south side of Pequoic Street. From Route 2A in downtown Athol, turn north onto Exchange Street, then turn left onto Pequoic Street. The gate will be on your left.
Thursday, September 29, 6 p.m.
Hiram Fox WMA, Chesterfield
Walk through portions of an active hayfield and adjacent areas of reclaimed abandoned fields to learn about and discuss active habitat management for native shrubland birds in need of conservation. Biologists will also discuss on-going invasive plant control efforts at the site.
DIRECTIONS: Meet at the intersection of Ireland Street and Ireland Street Extension. From Route 112 in South Worthington turn east on South Ireland Street. Follow South Ireland Street uphill past Sevanars Concerts site at the old Worthington Academy, continue to the top of the hill, and turn right onto Ireland Street Extension.
Saturday, October 29, 6:30 p.m.
Southwick WMA, Southwick
Walk through portions of a 50-acre site with some remnant sandplain grassland and meadow habitat adjacent to overgrown pasture lands that will be reclaimed into managed shrubland habitat to support native shrubland birds in need of conservation.
DIRECTIONS: Meet at the DFG parking area on the south side of South Longyard Road. From Route 202/10 to Depot Street in Southwick, turn east on Depot Street for half a mile and bear right onto South Longyard Road (also shown as Mountain Road on some maps). After 1.2 miles, the Southwick WMA parking area will be on the right.