Boyd Sanctuary Update – 12/3/17

New England Cottontail Initiative
All phases of this project have been completed in accordance with our NRCS Conservation Program Contract. The program began in 2014 with our first rabbit habitat regeneration process involving 8 acres. This consisted of a clear-cut, spreading of tree limbs and brush over the newly cut area (called slash), and the construction of a number of brush piles. The following year, February and March of 2015, the process was repeated on 4 acres. Additionally, over the last 4 years, we’ve been vigilant in trying to keep the invasives at bay in these areas with herbicide treatments and cuttings, with our last herbicide treatment being performed this past fall.

These areas over the past 4 years have been very productive, supporting a number of birds that have returned to a habitat that is favorable for nesting and breeding, such as the towhee, field sparrow, and grey cat bird.

There’s no sign or evidence of the New England cottontail at Boyd but we’re hopeful that they may show up someday, knowing that they have been seen at areas not that far away.

Our long term goal now at Boyd is to maintain these early successional habitat areas through rotational cuttings in sections, at different times, over approximately 15 acres, to assure a constant wildlife habitat of thickets and young forest areas.

Pollinator Habitat Program
On September 13, 2017, Kelly Gill, Pollinator Conservation Specialist and a member of the Xerces Society along with Todd Bobowick, local NRCS biologist, paid a visit to our Wigwam Brook Wildlife and Boyd Woods Audubon Sanctuaries to evaluate certain areas of our sanctuaries that may be eligible for support and funding to develop and and maintain native habitat diversity for pollinators.

We received Kelly’s report on October 31, 2017, stating our objectives, identifying the current conditions of the areas of interest, and providing recommendations and methods on how to accomplish our objectives.

At our November monthly meeting a sign-up sheet was passed around for those interested in taking part, at the ground level, of this very important and beneficial project. A meeting will be held after the new year to review the report and to discuss if and how we are to proceed. We’re looking for ideas, suggestions, and support. Anyone wishing to get involved please contact: Rich Martin at, martins283main@mac.com or 860-736-7714.

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Bones and Bottles Walk

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Explore a New Trail at Wigwam Brook Sanctuary

November 4, Saturday, 2:00 p.m.

Lush wetlands and dense thickets make much of the 36-acre Wigwam Brook Wildlife Sanctuary un-walkable. Recently, though, a new “Bones and Bottles Trail” has been created, allowing visitors to explore an area that few realized belongs to LHAS. This is a woodland you’ve no doubt driven past numerous times, never giving any thought to the history and mysteries hiding beyond the guard rails. Old stone walls show that this was once farmland, but what happened when a road came through? (Hint: the name of the trail holds a clue!) We’ll discover and discuss the effects that human activities have had on this property over the years, as we walk along the easy 1-mile path. If time allows we’ll check out John Baker’s American Chestnut plantation, look for birds in the wetlands, and say “hello” to our resident beavers. Bring your camera and binoculars. Meet at the Wigwam Brook Wildlife Sanctuary parking lot on Lipeika Road, just off Route 254 in Litchfield. No dogs, please! Rain date: Nov. 11.

For more information, contact Debbie Martin at barnowl524@hotmail.com or 860-819-7462

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New England Cottontail Update

We reached a milestone in this project by completing the last piece of work that needed to be performed this year. Field #5, the 4 acre area that we clear-cut back in January of 2015, required a follow-up invasive treatment. We hired a local forester to apply herbicide to the invasive plants/shrubs in this area. The invasives consisted mostly of bittersweet, euonymous, and multiflora rose. Left untreated, these invasives will compete with the native plants beneficial to wildlife, and ultimately take over your land.

This completes all the practices  that were listed on our contract with the NRCS, beginning in 2013 and ending this year for the New England Cottontail initiative. We will continue to manage these areas, approximately 15 acres, to ensure that we can provide a favorable habit for the New England cottontail and for other wildlife and birds requiring young forest and shrubland type conditions.

We’d like to thank all of the people that were involved in this project for their time and effort and for making Boyd Woods a better place for wildlife. We’d especially like to thank Lisa Wahle, NEC Project Contract Biologist, and Todd Bobowick, NRCS Research Conservationist, for providing us with the expert advice needed to accomplish all the requirements for this program. They were available at a moments notice, providing us with support on-site, by phone or through e-mail exchanges.

If you would like to read more about our New England Cottontail experience at Boyd Woods Audubon Sanctuary, visit the following website link:

Bringing Back Birdsong and Cottontails

 

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Forest Management Plan – Update 8.19.17

We’ve developed a Forest Management Plan over the past year, for both Boyd Woods and Wigwam Brook sanctuaries. The plan was submitted to the NRCS for approval in early May. They came back and said that it was approved.

Since then, we’ve met with our project coordinator from the NRCS to discuss some of the items that are on our list of management tasks. In summary, here is a list of the things that we would like to accomplish over the next 10 years.

• Maintain and enhance existing trails at Boyd Woods, maintaining vistas at selected sites.

• Develop new trails at Wigwam Brook (north and south of Lepeika Road).

• Construct footbridge over Wigwam Brook at Boyd Woods.

• Discourage or eliminate invasive plants.

• Maintain existing early successional habitats.

• Expand Monarch Meadow north to Margery’s Bird Pond.

• Manage meadow habitats for pollinators.

• Maintain cavity trees and snags in wooded areas.

• Maintain conifer habitats.

• Maintain beaver habitat in wooded wetland areas.

• Encourage understory growth in sections of the upland hardwoods while maintaining buffers along existing trails.

• Maintain current habitat diversity. Encourage ruffed grouse in conifer and early successional habitats.

• Protect water resources.

• Protect wetlands.

• Protect riparian zones.

Some of these tasks may not be implemented due to the cost and amount of work that would be required to accomplish them.

Our next step is to meet with the NRCS to fill out an application for implementation of our Forest Management Plan. This will need to done before October 2017.

 

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Forest Management Project

A lot of time has gone by since our last update which talked about the clear-cut that was done in 2014 as part of our involvement in the New England cottontail restoration initiative. Since then we did another clear-cut (4 acres) in the winter of 2015 and will continue to work on the scheduled requirements spelled out for us by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The scheduled tasks that we are to follow for the New England cottontail initiative (brush hogging, invasive control, etc.) extend out to 2017.

Photo of the 2015 Clear-cut

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Meanwhile, LHAS has taken on another long term initiative with the NRCS, under it’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). The project consists of a Forest Management Plan (FMP), developed by a certified Technical Service Provider (forester) to help us manage our sanctuaries.

A group of LHAS members met this past Monday, August 8, at the Boyd Woods Sanctuary to define what our overall objectives are.

Our Objectives:

  • The FMP must benefit all wildlife, existing and to encourage new species.
  • The FMP will define how we keep and maintain our current Early Successional habits, inclusive the areas that were developed for the New England cottontail rabbit.
  • The FMP will define for us how to develop a ‘Healthy Forest.’ Through, just to mention a few, diversification, habitat layering, and managing/planting food bearing plants and trees.

Boyd Woods Sanctuary is 106 acres and Wigwam Brook is 38 acres. Both are very unique in their respective habitats providing home to a vast number of wildlife species, birds and plants. With utmost importance, we want to maintain what we have that is home to many, yet at the same time incorporate practices and resources that will help us improve our sanctuaries for the benefit of wildlife.

We will keep you posted via this blog regarding our progress and accomplishments.  Click on the Forest Management Project tab above in the menu bar to learn more about this project.

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New England Cottontail Initiative Update

Since our last posting we have been extremely busy. Here are some of the highlights regarding this initiative:

9/10/2014: Mike Barry and his co-workers from Bay State Forestry came out to Boyd Woods to treat the invasives in the next 3.8 acre parcel that will under go a clear-cut later this year.

Bay_State

3/10/14: Clear-cutting of the first section, 8 acres, has been completed. Alan and Ron Remeika and crew, from Northfield, worked tirelessly despite the freezing weather and snow storms that made their work even more challenging. Foresters and biologists from the DEEP and the NRCS came out to inspect the results and were quite amazed and very pleased on how well we did. They asked if they could use Boyd Woods as a ‘show site’ to show and instruct perspective landowners, interested in getting involved in this initiative, on how they may want to do things. We excitingly approved of this request.

CC_Completed

1/28/14: First phase of the New England Cottontail initiative clear-cutting begins. The ground is perfect for the heavy equipment that will be used during this process. Estimated time to complete the clear-cut and the creation of 24 brush piles (homes for future New England cottontails) is 6 to 8 weeks (conditions permitting). Alan and Ron Remeika, from Northfield, CT, will be doing the work.

CC_Day1

CC-Begins

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New England cottontail

A new page has been added to explain how LHAS is participating in a regional wide effort to help restore suitable habitat for the New England cottontail rabbit. Click on ‘New England Cottontail Project’ tab to learn more.

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