In the Works...

Hyannis Ponds Wildlife Management Area, Barnstable County, Massachusetts

Hyannis Ponds WMA covers 357 acres north of the Barnstable Municipal Airport on lower Cape Cod. Several kettle ponds occupy low areas on the rolling landscape, with pitch pine and scrub oak cloaking the hills. Historic records of New England cottontails nearby make this area a prime candidate for enhancing habitat for that species; management activities should also benefit woodcock, whip-poor-wills, towhees, indigo buntings, and other young-forest birdlife, as well as several moth species. Managers plan to use clearcutting and mulching techniques to transform and improve this area starting in 2011. Partners: Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Ruffed Grouse Society, 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.

Housatonic River Wildlife Management Area, Litchfield County, Connecticut

This 556-acre WMA in northwestern Connecticut includes old fields, grasslands, and forest along the Housatonic River. New England cottontails share the habitat with American woodcock and abundant other wildlife. In winter 2011, loggers will clearcut two stands of mixed hardwoods, one 24 acres and the other 13 acres, that will come back in brushy young forest, creating the large blocks of contiguous cover that New England cottontails require. Managers will control invasive shrubs (mainly honeysuckle), plant native shrubs as needed, maintain forested wetlands, allow native trees and shrubs to grow up in patches and corridors in fields, and continue to mow existing grasslands. Partners: Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Northwest Sportsmen’s Council, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Wildlife Management Institute.

Connecticut Audubon Society Bafflin Sanctuary, Windham County, Connecticut

This 700-acre wildlife sanctuary is part of a landscape that includes active farms, mature forest, and wetlands. Habitat specialists employ an assortment of management practices to create and maintain habitat for woodcock. They mow fields to keep them in grass, weeds, and shrubs; cut back alders in damp areas so that the alders regrow in dense thickets; use timber harvests, including patch cuts, to create areas of young, regrowing forest; mow grassy trails and roads that provide summertime roosting habitat; cut down trees when they begin to shade out woodcock-friendly shrubs; and use machines and herbicide applications to knock back non-native invasive shrubs in favor of native shrubs. Naturalists lead Woodcock Watches in springtime, introducing people to the beautiful courtship displaying of timberdoodles. Bafflin Sanctuary abuts around 500 acres controlled by the Wyndham Land Trust, which includes substantial amounts of woodcock habitat that the Sanctuary helps to manage. Partners: Connecticut Audubon Society, Wyndham Land Trust, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Wildlife Management Institute.

Poplar Island, Talbot County, Maryland

Young forest and shrubland will be two of several important wildlife habitats created from scratch through an ambitious island restoration project in Chesapeake Bay. As part of a longstanding partnership with the Maryland Ports Authority, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, is dredging silt out of approach channels to Baltimore harbor and using this clean, nutrient-rich sediment to rebuild Poplar Island, which has eroded severely in recent decades. (A key breeding area for shore and wading birds and a stopover site for migrating birds, Poplar Island had dwindled from 1,120 acres in 1847 to only 3 to 4 acres of scattered tiny islets in 1998.)


When completed in 2039, the new island will be 1,715 acres, including 840 acres of upland habitat at an elevation of up to 25 feet; 737 acres of wetlands divided into low marsh and high marsh; and 138 acres of open water embayments. As Poplar Island expands, habitat managers will plant native grasses, shrubs, and trees in upland areas and on islands in the many small bays contained within the larger island’s footprint. As of summer 2011, more than 140 acres of wetlands had been completed, where many birds already were breeding. Conservationists have made experimental plantings to learn which trees and shrubs will do the best job of revegetating the island. Woodcock will be just one of many bird species that will use the upland habitats, including permanent shrub areas and newly established, growing forest. Partners: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland Ports Authority (Port of Baltimore), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland Environmental Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.