Property Acquisitions Provide More Hunting Opportunities
Several state wildlife management areas grew in size in recent years when DEEP was able to purchase adjacent properties using funds provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson) Program, which is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
This program was initiated by sportsmen and conservationists to provide states with funding for wildlife management and research, habitat acquisition, and sportsmen education programs. Funds are derived from a federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition, and archery equipment. These funds are collected from the manufacturers by the Department of the Treasury and apportioned each year to the States and Territorial areas by the U.S. Department of the Interior on the basis of formulas set forth in the Act.
Three of the new acquisitions are profiled here. You can learn about others and the new outdoor opportunities available at these areas by reading articles in Connecticut Wildlife magazine and our free electronic newsletter, Wildlife Highlights. Subscribe to Connecticut Wildlife by going to the DEEP website at www.ct.gov/deep/WildlifeMagazine and sign-up to receive Wildlife Highlights at www.ct.gov/deep/WildlifeHighlights.
Purchase of Porter Pond Adds to Pachaug State Forest
DEEP purchased the Porter Pond property in Sterling from United Electrical and Fuel Corporation in 2014. A Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration grant provided additional funding for the purchase of this property. This acquisition provides protection and management of a key block of undeveloped land within Pachaug State Forest. The parcel shares its entire eastern, western, and southern boundary with the existing state forest. Pachaug State Forest is already an extensive property consisting of over 26,000 acres in the towns of Voluntown, Griswold, Sterling, Plainfield, and North Stonington; Porter Pond adds an additional 146.7 acres. The Porter Pond property is primarily upland hardwood forest and includes 17 acres of wetlands. A tributary within the Wood River basin bisects a distance of more than one-half mile near the western border along Porter Pond Road.
Pachaug State Forest provides a variety of wildlife-based recreational opportunities. The state forest, including the Porter Pond parcel, is open for hunting of small game, pheasant, waterfowl, spring and fall turkey, and muzzleloader and non-lottery shotgun deer. Porter Pond is open year-round for fishing and the Wood River is stocked seasonally with trout. Porter Pond Road provides public access to this area. Porter Pond is ideal for wildlife observation and photography. The pond, plus the entire state forest, also provides habitat for state-listed plant, animal, and insect species.
Meadow Brook Wildlife Management Area Expanded
Meadow Brook Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Colchester grew by 109 acres when DEEP purchased a parcel from Prospect Hill Associates with the help of a Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration grant. The new acquisition is located along the southeast edge of the wildlife management area and shares a 2,656-foot boundary line with the original area. The property provides two additional roadside access points and, with the existing Meadow Brook WMA, a buffer from houses along Prospect Hill Road.
Habitat types found on the 263-acre property are conducive for the management of a variety of game and nongame wildlife species. The southern half of the property consists primarily of upland hardwood forest with maple, oak, and hickory dominating the canopy. The understory in this area is sparse due to nearly complete canopy closure and includes a series of stone walls reminiscent of past agricultural use. A 1.5-acre opening, which is on the southwestern edge, has a mix of herbaceous plants. The property becomes more mesic (balanced supply of moisture) at lower elevations, with a canopy dominated by red maple and an understory primarily consisting of spicebush. Several acres within the northern part of the property contain prime farmland soils and have a dense, shrubby understory. The addition of this property to Meadow Brook WMA will reduce encroachment from development, thus maintaining the various hunting programs and providing more habitat for wildlife.
Meadow Brook WMA is used for a variety of wildlife-based recreational opportunities, including regulated hunting. It has become an important area for pheasant hunting, as well as for small game, waterfowl, spring turkey, fall firearms turkey, and muzzleloader and non-lottery shotgun deer hunting.
The actual Meadow Brook for which the area is named is a 15-foot wide meadow stream that parallels Route 2 and is open year-round for fishing. This gravel stream, which flows into the Jeremy River, has a moderately diverse fish community for its size. (Check the current Connecticut Angler’s Guide for regulations and information.)
James V. Spignesi, Jr. WMA Grows by 54.7 Acres
The 469-acre James V. Spignesi, Jr. WMA in Scotland has diverse wildlife habitats, including a mix of woodlands, agricultural fields, and wetlands which support a wide array of species. Two properties have been added to Spignesi WMA, which were purchased by the Wildlife Division with the help of a Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration grant. The additional 54.7 acres provide an opportunity to protect and manage one of the last remaining blocks of undeveloped land contiguous with current state ownership. The acquisition includes 520 feet of frontage along Palmer Road (State Routes 14 and 97) at its southern boundary, thereby providing an additional access point for public use.
Part of the property slopes moderately to the east and is primarily mixed forest with extensive wetland soils that has been managed for timber and fuelwood production. A timber harvest was conducted five years ago, adding to the overall diversity of habitat on the WMA.
The new parcels also include an unnamed tributary to Merrick Brook, which is a Class 1 wild brook trout stream, a critical but declining habitat of statewide significance. DEEP ownership now affords protection of the headwaters to Merrick Brook.
A 151-acre parcel, which is under a perpetual hunting easement for public hunting access, is included in the management of Spignesi WMA. This permanent easement is the first and only one of its kind in Connecticut, ensuring public access will be maintained on the parcel into the future.
Spignesi WMA is used for a variety of wildlife-based recreational opportunities; it is open for hunting of small game, pheasant, waterfowl, spring and fall turkey, muzzleloader, and non-lottery shotgun deer. The WMA is also home to endangered, threatened, and special concern plants and animals.
Maps of public hunting areas on state forests, wildlife management areas, and other similar properties can be found on the DEEP website at www.ct.gov/deep/huntingareamaps.