State Land Spotlight: Carolina WMA
By John Veale, Habitat Biologist, RI DEM
The young shorthair was onto something. She zigged and zagged through the tall switchgrass; her form barely perceptible between the tufts – just an excited blur of mottled gray fur. As she cleared a thick tuft of grass into a mowed path, she skidded to a stop, her body frozen in an awkward looking “U.” Still learning, she almost passed right by the bird, but she hadn’t missed it. Her tail, the only white patch on her, once wagging rapidly as she searched was now stock still, the rest of her body trembling on point. Seconds later, a cock pheasant sprung into the air, crowing as it caught the brisk wind and sailed off…laughing as both barrels of the 28 failed to hit their mark…That scene unfolded in Carolina Management Area, located in the town of Richmond. Encompassing over 2300 acres of land stretching between Alton Carolina Rd (Rt 91) in the South, to Kenyon Hill Trail to the North, it offers excellent hunting and fishing opportunities, plus miles of hiking trails. Species open for hunting in this Management Area include deer (firearm and archery), turkeys, small game, pheasants and waterfowl. Hunting opportunities run from September with the opening of dove season through the end of February each year when small game closes and includes spring turkey. Pheasants are stocked in fields accessible from the parking area at the check station on Pine Hill Rd and the large fields between Rt 112 and Kenyon Hill Trail accessible from parking areas on either road. If you’re looking for fishing opportunities, trout are stocked annually in the Carolina Trout Pond off Kenyon Hill Trail, as well as in Meadowbrook Pond off Rt 91 which also holds bass and sunfish. Hiking trails accessible from several parking areas on Switch Rd, Pine Hill Rd and Route 91 provide enjoyment of the property throughout the year, leading through varied habitats and including portions of the famed North South Trail. Much of the property is comprised of upland forests with mixed red or white oak, beech, maple and white pine. Pitch pine communities with blueberry understory are scattered throughout as well. To the west, accessible from Switch Rd, you can walk along the edge of Diamond Bog, giving you the opportunity to view a unique habitat type dominated by cedars and leatherleaf, along with the equally unique wildlife that call it home. If you prefer to walk in more open fields, parking areas off Rt 91 provide access to trails surrounding agricultural fields and along the banks of Meadowbrook pond. Bring a rod along during trout season and try your luck. During the summer months, the pheasant fields between 112 and Kenyon Hill Trail are an excellent place to look for grassland nesting birds and pollinators amongst the switchgrass and mullein. This is a good place to see turtles sunning themselves along the pond edges or digging a nest into the sandy banks too. Whether it’s chasing turkeys in spring, trout in summer, pheasants in fall, deer in winter, or hiking year-round; there’s always something to explore at Carolina Management Area.