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Wildlife Lands Acquisitions

Hunting Regulations Icon Massachusetts Hunting & Fishing

 

Acquisition in FY17

The mission of the Land Protection Program, a joint effort of the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), is to protect the ecological integrity of the Commonwealth and provide wildlife-related recreational opportunities to the public. Each year the Land Protection Program seeks to expand existing wildlife lands, enhance public access to lands and waters for wildlife-related recreation, and protect key fish and wildlife habitats. Most funding for land acquisition is from bond capital, with the remaining portion provided by the Wildlands Stamp Fund, a $5 fee added to each purchase of a hunting, fishing, or trapping license.

Fiscal Year 2017 was a surprisingly strong year for land protection in Massachusetts, with land agents completing 53 projects conserving 4,712 acres of valuable wildlife habitat at a cost of $5.6 million. Altogether 3,468 acres were conserved via purchase and another 1,244 acres were donated to the Commonwealth.

Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and Wildlife Conservation Easements (WCE) are open to fishing, hunting, trapping, wildlife observation, boating, hiking, and other passive wildlife-related recreation. These wildlife lands, found from the Berkshires to the Cape and Islands, include river corridors, wetlands, forested and grassy uplands, habitat for state-listed endangered and threatened species, and high quality parcels of other important habitat types.

In the Western District, 9 acquisitions were completed in FY17 protecting a total of 1,115 acres at a cost of $1,281,000. Five of the nine projects involved acquiring in-holdings inside the boundaries of the Peru, Chalet, Long Mountain and Ram Hill Wildlife Management Areas.

Twelve projects were concluded in the Connecticut Valley District protecting 1,070 acres at a cost of $1,561,551. The key acquisition was the 84 acres added to the 170-acre Southwick WMA. Plans are to continue grassland restoration on these newly acquired acres, which will support more pairs of Grasshopper Sparrows and other grassland birds, as well as Eastern Box Turtle.

Central District staff completed 7 acquisitions protecting 384 acres at a cost of $563,500. In particular, the Gardner to Winchendon Landscape Partnership Grant project provided DFG with the opportunity to create its first fee-holding block at the 19th Hill Wildlife Management Area. The DFG was able to partner with the City of Gardner, Town of Winchendon and non-profit organizations to negotiate the protection of over 612 acres, 293 of which are permanently protected by DFG and open to the public for passive recreation, including hunting. The remaining protected 319 acres will be managed by the municipalities. Extensive areas of ecologically significant wetland and upland habitats are now protected for the benefit of the Commonwealth and at a major cost savings thanks to the availability of state grant funds.

In the Northeast District, land staff completed 14 projects conserving 357 acres of land at a cost of $1,647,975, two of which deserve mention here. In Ipswich, roughly 55 acres were acquired along Castle Neck Creek, a tidally-influenced river, and added to Great Marsh North WMA. The majority of this purchase was funded by a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant. The Town of Ipswich and Essex County Greenbelt acquired an abutting 70 acres creating an even larger block of protected land.

Nine land conservation projects were executed in the Southeast District involving a total of 1,715 acres at a cost of $1,485,000. FY17 will be remembered as a great year for completing projects that were many years in the making. For example, a project adding 81 acres Taunton River frontage to the Taunton River WMA began over seven years ago. Likewise, a gift of a conservation restriction over the 486-acre Copicut Woods in the Southeast Massachusetts BioReserve closed a project chapter that dates all the way back to 2000. FY17 also saw the acquisition of the 510-acre Atwood Reservoir property in Carver, which was the most significant project of the year from a public access and natural resource perspective.

The 4,226 acres conserved across the Commonwealth in FY17 bring the total acreage to over 212,880.3 acres, which is over 332 square miles of permanently protected wildlife habitat. These lands were conserved with your help and are for your enjoyment. Start planning your next outdoor adventure — visit mass.gov/dfw/wildlife-lands to view maps of wildlife lands.

Western

Valley

Central

Northeast

Southeast

TOTAL

WMA

46,386.3

19,369.8

38,614.4

13,938.9

43,071.1

161,380.5

WCE

15,362.8

8,733.7

8,725.5

2,126.5

11,277.0

46,225.5

Access

35.8

518.3

683.4

234.7

54.7

1,526.8

Sanctuary

435.0

367.9

552.5

73.0

1,428.4

WCR

69.4

2.4

746.4

127.0

37.9

983.1

Installation

2.4

436.1

106.4

114.4

659.3

Other

372.0

5.0

377.0

TOTAL

62,291.7

29,060.4

49,137.6

17,457.9

54,633.0

212,580.6