New England Outdoor Center Hammond Ridge Project, Penobscot County, Maine

About the Hammond Ridge Project

This 85-acre habitat demonstration area is on land owned by the New England Outdoor Center, a central Maine outfitter offering whitewater rafting, canoeing, wildlife tours, hiking, birding, hunting, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and other recreational activities, both on its own 1,400-acre property and elsewhere in this scenic natural region. The project centers on Hammond Ridge, whose elevation provides sweeping views of lakes and mountains, including Mt. Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak.

The region is heavily forested with northern hardwoods, including aspen, birch, beech, maple, and ash intermixed with softwood trees such as pine, spruce, fir, and cedar. Wildlife abounds in this Great North Woods setting, from reptiles, amphibians, and small rodents up to large mammals such as coyote, bobcat, black bear, white-tailed deer, and moose. Many kinds of migratory songbirds breed here, as do woodcock, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, ducks, loons, and wading birds. Forested wetlands, including beaver flowages, diversify the landscape.

Improving the Land for Woodcock

Forester David Irving of Shelterwood Solutions worked closely with New England Outdoor Center owner Matt Polstein to integrate the young-forest habitat project with a cross-country skiing and hiking trail that winds through and past the wildlife-oriented patch cuts. Over the next 30 years, a total of 85 acres of young forest will be created.

New growth on a fresh clearcut at Hammond Ridge, Maine

This freshly cut area will soon sprout thousands of fresh aspen shoots. The patch will be a magnet for wildlife in years to come./C. Fergus

In winter 2010-2011, workers hand-cut mature aspens on three patches totaling 12 acres; in a second round of cutting on the same patches, a mechanical harvester removed the remaining merchantable timber. Then a skid steer machine with a rotating cutting head chipped the limbs and tops and ground down the stumps, clearing the site for quick tree regeneration while also returning valuable nutrients to the soil. Near the three patch cuts, a 5.25-acre area, including an old log landing, was cleared to bare soil and seeded with clover and grasses.

The three cut patches are growing back mainly in aspen, along with lesser amounts of pin cherry, red maple, striped maple, and other trees and shrubs. These rapidly growing young forest sites will provide feeding and brood-rearing habitat for woodcock for up to 20 years. The 5.25-acre grassy opening will offer springtime singing and displaying habitat; in summer the vegetation will be mowed in strips, creating a patchy habitat where woodcock will ground-roost at night.

In this region, which is dominated by mature forest, many other wild creatures will home in on the new young-forest openings. Moose and white-tailed deer will browse on the regrowing trees and shrubs.

Bobcats hunt for rodents, hares, and other prey  in regrowing clearcuts.

Bobcats will find prey in the densely regrowing forest on the Hammond Ridge habitat project./G. Kramer, USFWS

Young-forest songbirds will nest in the thick cover, including chestnut-sided warblers, white-throated sparrows, and indigo buntings. Birds that nest in older, more-mature woodland, such as hermit thrushes and rose-breasted grosbeaks, will take their newly fledged young in among the dense shoots and saplings, where they’ll find plentiful insect food in cover that will shield them from hawks and other predators.

In the singing/roosting openings, deer and black bear will graze on clover and grasses in springtime when other greenery is scarce. Wild turkeys and ruffed grouse hens will lead their young into the grassy patches to feed on high-protein insect life. Humans will enjoy viewing the many kinds of wildlife that will use these open settings.

In the future, additional rounds of patch-cutting will take place next to and near the patches cut in 2010-2011, so that a young-forest component will constantly rotate through the 85-acre Hammond Ridge site.

Funding and Partners

New England Outdoor Center, Shelterwood Solutions, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program), Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Wildlife Management Institute.

How to Visit

The New England Outdoor Center’s Twin Pine Camp is north of Millinocket. Visitors can take Maine Routes 11 and 157 west from Interstate 95 to Millinocket, then follow Route 157 and signs to Baxter State Park. Twin Pine Camp is 8 miles out of town on the shores of Millinocket Lake, with the road entrance on the right immediately after a 35 mph sign. The young-forest habitat demonstration area lies on the property’s southern boundary. For more information, phone 207-723-5438.

For additional information on forestry and wildlife aspects of the project, contact consulting forester David Irving at 207-944-9066, e-mail

PDF icon MAP.pdf534.93 KB