Cowls Sawmill & Land Company, Norris Lot, Hampshire County, Massachusetts

About Cowls Sawmill & Land Company Norris Lot

The Norris Lot is in Huntington, Massachusetts, in Hampshire County, in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. The 14.5-acre parcel belongs to Cowls Sawmill and Land Company of North Amherst, Massachusetts. The Norris Lot includes pastures and small woodlots abandoned from one to four decades ago.

Aerial view of Cowl's Lumber woodcock habitat area

The old fields are growing up in brush and seedling white pines and a low-quality hardwood forest composed mainly of maples, birches, and beech. The property includes old apple trees overtopped by pines and hardwoods. Adjacent to the Norris lot are other Cowls holdings and protected watershed lands.

White-tailed deer, black bear, moose, small mammals, wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, woodcock, numerous songbirds, and a variety of reptiles and amphibians live on or pass through the Norris Lot.

Cowls Sawmill & Land Company is headquartered in North Amherst, Massachusetts. The family-owned and -managed company grows, harvests, manufactures, and sells a range of forest products from its lands, which are certified for sustainability through the American Forestry Foundation. Cowls keeps its lands open for recreational use by the general public.

Improving the Land for Woodcock

Wildlife managers identified seven separate stands on the Norris Lot, linked together and lining both sides of Breakneck Road, a narrow, unmaintained thoroughfare. The stands total about 14.5 acres. Even though the parcel is relatively small, it will be managed to provide all four primary habitat types that woodcock need: feeding areas, singing grounds, roosting areas, and nesting and brood-rearing areas.

In winter 2008, workers did an initial round of tree-cutting on three of the seven stands. They removed marketable timber, including trees that were shading out shrubs and apple trees, and cleared away the logging slash and woody debris. Patches and strips were cut into the habitat in some areas. Altogether, about 7 acres were treated in this first cutting.

Over the next 15 years, continued cutting and mowing will keep the different habitat areas in grassy or brushy states. Within about 10 years of the project's launch, most of the tall trees will have been removed from the Norris Lot. A staggered, 15-year rotation of all stands will provide a wide array of early successional vegetation to benefit woodcock and other wildlife that thrive in brushy woods, young forest, and open habitats.

Funding and Partners

Cowls Sawmill & Land Company, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Wildlife Management Institute.

How to Visit

The Norris Lot can be reached by taking Tucker Road south from Massachusetts Route 66 in Huntington.

For more information, or to set up a group tour of the demonstration area, contact MassWildlife upland game bird biologist David Scarpitti, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd., Westborough MA 01581, 508-389-6377,

For more information about the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife's Upland Habitat Management Program, see