BOSTON — Seeking to complement ongoing habitat management efforts on state lands and promote opportunities for outdoor recreation, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced it has awarded $184,400 in state grant funds to eight organizations and municipalities to improve wildlife habitat on 276 acres of land within the Commonwealth. Now in its seventh year, the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program has provided financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to improve and manage habitat for wildlife deemed in greatest conservation need and for certain game species.
“The Commonwealth’s investment in wildlife habitat enhancement projects greatly benefit our native wildlife while simultaneously improving recreational opportunities for people who enjoy outdoor activities, such as fishing, hunting, and wildlife observation,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Improving habitat through active restoration and management also creates a more climate-resilient habitat, an important adaptation strategy as we confront climate change.”
“The Habitat Management Grant Program provides municipalities and conservation organizations with vital funding that is important to properly manage wildlife habitat to the benefit of both wildlife and people,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These groups do not have all the funds necessary to conduct critical habitat management activities, and our Administration is proud to partner with them to help fill that gap.”
While the DFG’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) and other conservation organizations have made unprecedented investments in land acquisition in Massachusetts, land protection alone is not enough to guarantee the persistence of the Commonwealth’s diverse wildlife. Investment in habitat restoration and management is needed on public and private lands across the state. To address this need, the Administration has substantially increased investment in habitat management on state wildlife lands and are committed to working with partners to promote these efforts on other conserved lands across the state. The MHMGP program encourages landowners to engage in active habitat management on their properties to benefit wildlife.
“The Department of Fish and Game’s active habitat management program enhances wildlife restoration and outdoor recreational opportunities on more than 225,000 acres of wildlife management area lands overseen by MassWildlife,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “These projects receiving funding complement that work, which is important for common and rare wildlife and plants, and necessary for ecological resiliency and diversity.”
“Most forests and other wildlife habitats in Massachusetts are not state-owned, and we rely on conservation organizations, cities and towns, private landowners, and other partners to help us manage habitat to benefit all wildlife,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon. “This program provides us with the opportunity to expand our habitat management footprint, directly benefiting wildlife, sportsmen and women, and other people who enjoy outdoor recreation.”
“MassWildlife’s Habitat Management Program focuses on habitat conservation for less common birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, because the kinds of habitats they need are less common,” said Mark Tisa, MassWildlife Director. “As the agency responsible for the conservation of all wildlife and their habitats for the benefit and enjoyment of all Massachusetts’ residents and visitors, this program helps the Baker-Polito Administration both partner with others to conserve rare and common wildlife and enhance everyone’s connection to the state’s wildlife and wild places.”
The following eight projects will receive MassWildlife Habitat Management Grants:
Dunstable – Zoo New England, in conjunction with the Town of Dunstable, has been awarded $11,289 to conduct scrub-shrub habitat improvement work to benefit rare species at the Pierce Town Forest.
Falmouth – The Town of Falmouth will receive $20,587 to improve sandplain grasslands at Coonamessett Reservation.
Fitchburg – Mass Audubon has been awarded $50,000 to improve pitch pine forest at the Flat Rock Reservation.
Groton – The Town of Groton will receive $29,050 to create and improve open field and shrub habitat at Priest Hill.
Lenox – The Town of Lenox, in conjunction with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, has been awarded $26,810 to control the hardy kiwi vine at Kennedy Park and adjacent properties.
Nantucket – The Nantucket Conservation Foundation has been awarded $13,024 to manage sandplain barrens and heathlands on the Middle Moors property.
Sheffield – The Sheffield Land Trust will receive $16,040 to conduct brush hogging and invasive species control at Ashley Falls Woods.
South Lee – South Lee Associates, in conjunction with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, will receive $17,400 to control invasive species and improve floodplain forest habitats on multiple Housatonic River properties.
“Congratulations to the towns of Dunstable and Groton for receiving grant awards from the MassWildlife Habitat Management program,” said Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Lowell). “The funding provided for habitat improvement will dually benefit the citizens of these towns and the local fauna that call these habitats home. I want to extend my congratulations to all those involved in the grant application process, your hard work and dedication brought these projects to fruition.”
“Western Mass is home to some of the most precious, and vital natural lands that provide essential ecosystems and clean air,” said Senator Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield). “Protecting these lands from invasive species must continue to be a top priority.”
“The funds from the MassWildlife Habitat management grant will be instrumental for both Kennedy Park and areas along the Housatonic River,” said Rep. Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox). “The Berkshires are known for our natural landscapes, and the improvements made possible by this grant will allow our residents to continue to access and enjoy these beautiful natural landscapes for generations to come.”