Local wildlife habitat tour next Thursday in Orange

  • Roche

Published: 8/17/2018 11:50:52 AM
Modified: 8/17/2018 11:51:37 AM

Local landowners, or anyone interested in managing forest lands to benefit wildlife, might want to take in a very interesting event taking place here in the Mount Grace region next week.

On Thursday, Aug. 23, from 10 a.m. to noon, the public and media are invited to join a wildlife habitat management tour on Tully Road in Orange, hosted by private landowners Fred Heyes and Heather Stone and conservation restriction holders — the Mount Grace Land Trust and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife).

The tour will provide an opportunity to view the benefits of wildlife habitat management. It will also give private landowners and municipal officials, who might be considering habitat management on their properties, a chance to learn about potential habitat management grant opportunities.

Participants will view extensive wildlife habitat management activities on these permanently conserved lands, including invasive species management and tree clearing.

These activities, which have occurred over several years, benefit both common and rare birds, reptiles and mammals in the area.

This habitat enhancement project was funded by grants from MassWildlife and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. It’s a rain or shine event, so dress for the weather and wear sturdy foot gear for walking uneven terrain. Be prepared to walk off-trail and bring a camera or binoculars if you have them. 

You will see signs showing the parking area along Tully Road, which is one-half mile north of the intersection of Tully Road with Creamery Hill Road in Orange. And if that is not enough enticement, refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP to Jay Rasku at rasku@mountgrace.org or at 978-248-2055, ext. 17.

More news

This past Tuesday, the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board met at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod. During the summer months, the board likes to move the site of meetings around the state to allow interested parties to attend. Camp Edwards was chosen for two reasons. First, it gave members a chance for a pre-meeting field trip to tour habitat work done on the base, much of which was to provide grassland habitat for species that require that habitat type, and also the prescribed burns, which also are a boon to many species of animals and invertebrates. The tour also included the facilities that will be used for the new youth conservation event, dubbed the Big COD, which will be similar to the Big MOE, which is held each fall in Sturbridge and draws several thousand young people and their families to partake in “hands-on” outdoor related activities. The planning of the Big COD is progressing nicely with the needed approvals coming from the Department of Defense.

Southeast District Manager Jason Zimmer provided a detailed review of activities on the cape, and one part of his presentation really caught my attention. The grassland habitat, on Camp Edwards and some MassWildlife properties in the cape are home to many interesting species. One rare species, the upland sandpiper, is being studied and with the miniaturization of electronics, a bird was captured and outfitted with a tracking device. If you don’t know anything about the upland sandpiper, the following is a brief introduction.

The Upland Sandpiper is the sometimes called the nonconformist of the sandpiper world. Unlike other species, it doesn’t spend its days on the beach. Upland Sandpipers prefer nice dry fields. Unfortunately, these fields are becoming harder to find. The loss of this habitat, coupled with the old days of market hunting, when thousands of these sandpipers were annually shot for market, resulted in a dramatic decline in their population. So much, that upland sandpipers are an endangered species in Massachusetts, with only four known nesting locations in the state.

What got my attention, was the fact that the radio-tagged bird flew nonstop from Massachusetts to Argentina. The following year, the same migrating flight was repeated by that upland sandpiper, and a second upland sandpiper that was equipped with a transmitter also made the flight, but that one got lazy and made stopover at the airport in Baltimore. Scientists are using the new micro-sized transmitters to discover things they never knew about species that could not previously be fitted with tracking devices.

Three members of the MassWildlife prescribed fire crew, Fletcher Clark, Chris Connors and Ben Mazzei, assisted in securing wildfires in Québec Province, Canada for two weeks this July. They were joined by 16 wildland firefighters from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to form the Massachusetts Interagency Wildfire Crew-MA#1, and were mobilized through DCR and the Northeast Forest Fire Compact.

The wildfire hand crew spent time containing two different wildfires: one near Radisson and the other near Lebel-sur-Quévillon in Québec Province. The crew spent most of its time on a large 24,500-acre fire on Wilson Lake in a remote region of Québec Province. Lightning strikes caused the dry, dense vegetation in the area to ignite, sparking the wildfires. A second Massachusetts crew, which included four MassWildlife employees, left this week for Montana. From there, they will be deployed to fight the wildfires that are currently raging in historically high numbers this summer. I wish them a safe return at the end of their deployment.

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