Habitat restoration begins at Guiney Memorial Forest

  • The chestnut-sided warbler, a species whose population thrives in early-successional forests, will be monitored through eBird at Guiney Memorial Forest in Royalston. PHOTO BY MATT TILLETT

Published: 9/29/2023 5:05:21 PM
Modified: 9/29/2023 5:04:34 PM

ATHOL –A Cornell Land Trust Grant given to Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust will be used for habitat restoration in Royalston.

Mount Grace’s work funded by this grant will focus on Guiney Memorial Forest, a 33-acre wildlife sanctuary in Royalston. Funds will be used to restore habitat and create habitat management demonstration areas that support targeted bird populations and can be used as outreach and educational tools for land trust staff, conservation practitioners, and private landowners.

This small sanctuary has various habitat types, including maturing white pine, hemlock and hardwood forest as well as a diverse understory, spruce-fir tamarack forested swamp, and more. Protected in 1998, Father John Guiney’s family donated the 33-acre property to Mount Grace on the condition it be maintained as a wildlife sanctuary.

The Cornell Lab’s Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative awarded grants to 14 land trusts throughout the country to assist with management and restoration of private protected lands, integrate bird conservation into prioritization and planning, and develop partnerships within the birding community to amplify conservation efforts.

The work at Guiney Forest will take place concurrently with similar efforts at Birch Hill, which sits to the south of the forest. The work at Birch Hill will include outreach to birders participating in eBird surveys of the site and landowners interested in replicating site management techniques to improve bird habitats on their own land.

The Birch Hill project is funded by a US Forest Service Landscape Scale Restoration grant. Partners include the Ruffed Grouse Society, National Wild Turkey Federation, Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game and Department of Conservation & Recreation.

“Small landowners play a significant role in forest stewardship in southern New England,” Stewardship Manager Tessa Dowling said. “This project is an opportunity to engage local landowners in bird-friendly forestry by demonstrating ecological restoration work on a scale that is relevant to private owners of small forest tracts.”

The work is set to begin by the end September, with opportunities to join eBird monitoring efforts soon to follow. To stay up to date on this project, visit mountgrace.org.

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