William H. Goudy Memorial Habitat Project, State Game Lands 82, Somerset County, Pennsylvania

About the Goudy Memorial Habitat Project

Biologist Bill Goudy (1933-2007) worked for conservation agencies in Michigan and West Virginia, and then for the U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife. He became a regional director for the Ruffed Grouse Society in 1984, a position he held until his retirement in 2002.

Woodcock research that Goudy did in Michigan was used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in designing the annual woodcock singing-ground survey begun in 1968. (Traveling along designated routes in springtime and counting singing male woodcock helps biologists monitor woodcock abundance and estimate population trends in states and provinces, management regions, and the North American continent.)

To commemorate Goudy’s life and accomplishments, his friends and relatives, along with the Ruffed Grouse Society, have contributed funds to help create and manage woodcock habitat on State Game Lands 82, Somerset County, southwestern Pennsylvania. The project is centered on the Wills Creek drainage and includes more than two miles of stream corridor.

Improving the Land for Woodcock

Photo of old farmland growing into excellent woodcock habitat

Old farmland is growing up into excellent woodcock habitat on two sections of SGL 82.

Two main areas of reverting farmland lie along Wills Creek, one about 27 acres and the other about 56 acres, both currently being used by woodcock. The two large old-field areas are separated by a large tract of 40-year-old forest stocked with hemlocks, northern hardwoods, and oaks.

Pennsylvania Game Commission workers cut down pole-stage trees that were invading the old farm fields. In moist-soil areas, a tracked caterpillar with a tree-shear cut back overmature alder to promote dense resprouting of this key wildlife shrub. The scattered patches of alder should expand into damp parts of the old fields nearby, creating excellent feeding and brood-rearing habitat for woodcock and other wildlife.

Workers have planted aspen seedlings in floodplain areas. (In the future, the larger aspen can be cut to create even denser regrowth.) Large existing food plots can be planted with dogwoods and other native shrubs. Apple trees and hawthorns are preserved in brushy areas, and grassy food plots are mowed periodically to keep them functioning as singing grounds and roosting areas. (Within a few miles are active farm fields that also provide roosting habitat.)

The forested area between the two old farming sites offers additional habitat. The Game Commission has drawn up a timber sale for the wooded stream corridor. Starting in 2009, a contractor will have three years to cut the timber on 60 acres along Wills Creek. (Vegetative buffers left along the creek will prevent erosion and protect water quality.) Removing the mature trees will stimulate resprouting, creating a long swath of young forest growing on moist bottomland soil. The timber harvest will also reach into nearby uplands, where another 120 acres will be cut, yielding feeding habitat for breeding and migrating timberdoodles.

The Game Commission reintroduced beavers to the Wills Creek drainage through a trap-and-transfer effort and has closed the area to beaver trapping. The beavers will feed on the regenerating young forest, helping to keep it in an early successional state.

Funding and Partners

Pennsylvania Game Commission, Ruffed Grouse Society, Estate of William H. Goudy, 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

State Game Lands 82 is south of Berlin, PA. It can be accessed off Pennsylvania Route 160 via Milwaukee Road. (See page 87 in the Pennsylvania Atlas & Gazetteer, published by DeLorme Mapping.) Back roads in the vicinity are dirt and gravel best negotiated in a high-clearance vehicle during dry weather.

For more information, contact the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Southcentral Division regional office at 814-643-1831.