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Wildlife Lands

Hunting Regulations Icon Massachusetts Hunting & Fishing

3

Acquisition in FY16

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 open to sporting activity, and protect key habitats. Most of the funding for land acquisition is from bond capital, with the remaining portion provided by the Wildlands Stamp Fund, a $5 fee added to each hunting, fishing, and trapping license sale.

Fiscal Year 2016 was a very strong year for land protection, with land agents completing 48 projects conserving 1,929 acres of valuable wildlife habitat at a cost of $4.9 million. The majority of lands and easements were purchased, although over 400 acres were donated.

Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and Wildlife Conservation Easements (WCE) are open to fishing, hunting, trapping, wildlife observation, and other passive wildlife-related recreation. These wildlife lands, 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 habitats.

In the Western District, 14 acquisitions were completed in FY16 protecting a total of 690 acres at a cost of $1,121,080. In a far reaching effort, MassWildlife was involved in a complex transaction protecting a popular recreation area, the Boulders Reserve, located in the Pittsfield area. MassWildlife has held a conservation easement (Boulders WCE) on this large 624-acre recreation area with longtime owner, Crane and Co. MassWildlife partnered with the Berkshires Natural Resource Council (BNRC) who was gifted the parcel by Crane and Co., while MassWildlife kept the easement. A conservation easement from three additional parcels of land totaling nearly 50 acres was purchased by MassWildlife, adding to the Reserve and WCE holding. Finally, 41 acres of the original Boulders WCE abutting the Chalet WMA off Gulf Road was gifted by BNRC to MassWildlife in fee, allowing us to make it part of the WMA.

Eight projects were concluded in the Connecticut Valley District protecting 263 acres at a cost of $375,000. The most exciting project in this district was the once-in-a-generation addition of 93 acres of valuable and very developable habitat to the Montague Plains WMA. The Emond family conveyed this large parcel abutting the western side of the WMA after many years of negotiation.

Central District staff completed 11 acquisitions protecting 432 acres at a cost of $1,115,920. In a project involving the sporting community, MassWildlife purchased a conservation easement protecting 100 acres of key habitat owned by the Worcester County League of Sportsmen and adjacent to the Winimusset WMA in New Braintree. The League offered the easement at a generous discount that was fully funded by the Wildlands Stamp Fund. Looking to the future, the League agreed to MassWildlife retaining right-of-first-refusal to purchase the land should the League decide to sell.

In the Northeast District, land staff completed 10 projects conserving 283 acres of land at a cost of $848,000. Of particular note in the Northeast was a coordinated property assemblage in Townsend, where three parcels comprising 100 acres were acquired for addition to the Squannacook River WMA.

Five land conservation projects were executed in the Southeast District involving a total of 260 acres at a cost of $1,531,000. After over 20 years of effort, a significant 27-acre purchase which included road frontage will provide vastly improved public access to the 3,000 acre Haskell Wildlife Management Area in Mattapoisett.

The 1,929 acres conserved across the Commonwealth in FY16 bring the total acreage to over 208,000 acres, which is over 325 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

45,643

18,645

37,233

13,548

42,436

157,505

WCE

15,648

8,389

8,736

2,085

10,728

45,586

Access

35

512

682

234

55

1,519

Sanctuary

435

0

368

552

73

1,428

WCR

69

2

746

127

38

983

Installation

2

436

0

108

114

660

Other

0

143

0

372

0

515

TOTAL

61,832

28,127

47,767

17,026

53,444

208,197