Groton State Forest, Caledonia and Washington Counties, Vermont

About Groton State Forest

This 26,000-acre tract is in the Northern Vermont Piedmont region. People visit Groton State Forest to camp (seven state parks lie within the forest boundary), watch wildlife, hunt, fish, and hike on an extensive trail network.

The largely mountainous terrain supports a forest of northern hardwood trees, along with spruce, fir, pine, cedar, and hemlock. The landscape includes ponds, wetlands, and streams. Soils derived from the local granite bedrock are mostly thin, stony, and acidic. When privately owned during the late 1800s and early 1900s, the area was heavily logged and repeatedly swept by wildfires. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources began acquiring land in the area in 1919. Today the agency manages the forest to yield a sustainable flow of wood products and to protect the diversity of its plants and animals.

Resident and migratory wildlife include black bear, deer, moose, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, woodcock, snowshoe hare, coyote, bobcat, beaver, fisher, and many songbirds.

Improving the Land for Woodcock

Since the early 1980s, managers have been creating young forest specifically to benefit woodcock through a series of logging cuts on two demonstration areas.

Woodcock Management Demonstration Area #1

Photo of woodcock roosting habitat

Woodcock roost on this overgrown gravel pit on Demonstration Area #1.

This 382-acre tract lies east of Lake Groton in Caledonia County. Managers began a series of strip and patch cuts in 1984. These cuts, totaling 267 acres, are growing back as a young forest composed mainly of paper birch and aspen, along with yellow birch, sugar and red maple, and black cherry.

Male woodcock use log landings and logging-road edges and intersections as singing grounds in springtime. Hens nest and rear their young in cut-over areas. Near the center of the tract is a 4-acre gravel pit, where gravel has been mined for use on forest roads. Vegetation is creeping back onto the edges of the pit. Managers plan to fill and grade areas where gravel mining has ceased, to improve the site as a woodcock roosting habitat. North of the gravel pit, strips are scheduled to be cut in mature woods during the next ten years to create new brushy, young-forest habitat.

Woodcock Management Demonstration Area #2

Photo of woodcock habitat in riparian setting

Demonstration Area #2 includes wetlands and alder stands along Marshfield Brook.

This area, southeast of Marshfield Pond in Washington County, consists of two parcels together totaling 135 acres. Since 1984, all 97 acres of upland forest on Area #2 have been cut in a series of logging operations. Four more cuttings are scheduled over the next 60 years, so that a large percentage of the area will continually be woodcock-friendly young forest.

About 38 acres on Demonstration Area #2 are wetlands lying along Marshfield Brook, with extensive stands of alder now used by woodcock. Beavers are cutting back some of the alder, helping to keep the stand in a brushy state. Pastures on an adjoining private tract offer singing grounds and roosting habitat.

Foresters are also creating early successional habitat elsewhere on Groton State Forest. Woodcock use two Ruffed Grouse Management Areas, as well as the wetter hardwood portions of two Snowshoe Hare Management Areas. More than 22,000 acres of the state forest are classified as “available for timber harvest,” and logging operations in those areas annually add to the total acreage available to woodcock.

Funding and Partners

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation), 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 two Woodock Management Demonstration Areas lie east and west of Vermont Route 232.

Demonstration Area #1 is east of Route 232. It can be reached via Coldwater Brook Road; visitors can drive as far as the gravel pit/roosting area. Demonstration Area #2 is in the Marshfield Brook drainage, on the west side of Route 232; visitors can park at the intersection of Lanesboro Road and the Montpelier and Wells River Rail-Trail and walk north along the trail to the Demonstration Area.

For more information, contact Louis Bushey, Stewardship Forester, Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, 1229 Portland Street, Suite 201, St. Johnsbury VT 05819-2099, phone 802-751-0136, email