Atlantic Coast Young Forest Initiative

The Atlantic Coast Young Forest Initiative began in 2010. It centers on Bird Conservation Region 30, from southwestern Maine south through coastal New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York’s Long Island, southern New Jersey, the Delmarva Peninsula of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, and mainland Maryland and Virginia bordering Chesapeake Bay.
Mannington Mills
By the early 1900s, about 70 percent of the Atlantic Coastal Plain had been cleared for farming and settlement. After many farms were abandoned in the late 1800s and early 1900s, brushy forest sprang up. Since then, urban development and the forests' maturing have steadily reduced the amount of habitat available to woodcock and other young-forest wildlife.

Woodcock breed along the Atlantic Coast, and timberdoodles from farther north migrate through this important corridor. Young-forest habitats provide resting and feeding areas for woodcock shifting between the northern primary breeding range and wintering areas farther south. (Other migrating birds also use these crucial stop-over habitats.) Some woodcock winter in southern New Jersey, the Delmarva Peninsula, and parts of Virginia adjacent to Chesapeake Bay.

Partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, Ruffed Grouse Society, Connecticut Woodcock Council, Connecticut Audubon Society, New Jersey Audubon Society, and the Wildlife Management Institute.

Another wild animal that needs young forest is the New England cottontail, found in parts of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York covered by the Atlantic Coast Young Forest Initiative. The New England cottontail is a candidate for inclusion on the federal endangered species list. Creating habitat for woodcock also benefits the New England cottontail, whose population has fallen dangerously in recent decades.

Demonstration Areas showcase habitat management techniques to help woodcock, New England cottontails, and other young-forest wildlife.

Wildlife biologists are developing a set of Best Management Practices tailored to benefit young-forest wildlife in this region.

There are both effective and ineffective ways to create young-forest habitat. Context of Management gives guidance on where, and where not, to actively manage land to benefit woodcock and other wildlife.