ORLAND — Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust has been conducting wildlife habitat management projects this fall on the 4,300-acre Great Pond Mountain Wildlands property.
Funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and carried out by contractors and volunteers, a variety of projects will benefit many different species of animals and birds.
Visitors to the Dead River portion of the Wildlands will notice three new meadows of six to seven acres apiece, one of them alongside the Dead River Trail, providing an excellent view of the river below. Wildlands foresters consulted with Gary Donovan of the Northeast Woodcock Habitat Initiative to create more habitat for American woodcock, a small game bird known for its elegant flight displays each spring. The new meadows also will create habitat for other animals that use open land and young growth, such as white-tailed deer and chestnut-sided warblers.
Dean Young Forestry of Franklin is doing the work, which involves clearing small trees, chipping them and removing the chips.
The Trust also hired Dave’s Tractor Services of Orland to mow a number of existing meadows in the Hothole Valley section of the Wildlands this fall, maintaining them for wildlife and views.
Selected nut and fruit-bearing trees along Valley Road in the Wildlands have been cleared around and released by Orland loggers Wyatt and Seth Astbury, allowing them to grow faster and produce food for wildlife more quickly. Oaks, cherries, beech and apple are a few of the tree species that will produce food for deer, turkeys, partridge and many other animals.
About 15 volunteers joined Wildlands Steward Tricia Rouleau for a Wildlife Brushpile Workday Nov. 13, building two brushpiles in the woods off Valley Road. These 12-foot diameter piles serve as fortresses for hares, mice, partridge and songbirds, which in turn feed foxes, owls, fishers and other native predators. The Trust must create 25 brush piles through 2013.
Trust volunteers Jerry Marancik and Sue Shaw joined Rouleau to build and hang five wood duck boxes along the Dead River shore this fall. Wood duck boxes also can be used by hooded mergansers raising their young. The Trust is looking for volunteers to build 20 more nest boxes for a variety of bird species in 2012, using Natural Resource Conservation Service specifications. Bluebirds, kestrels, chickadees and tree swallows are just a few of the cavity-nesting species that will use nest boxes.
Lastly, Wildlands Ranger Tom Fox has been working to create 10 snag trees in the Wildlands, in areas where animals and birds from woodpeckers to owls to fishers are likely to nest in them. Snag tree creation involves girdling a tree of 6 inches or more in diameter, so that it dies and begins to decay. As the tree rots, animals and birds are able to nest in its cavities. Cavity trees are in short supply in the Wildlands after harvesting in the 1990s. The Trust must create 25 snag trees through 2013.
Wildlife habitat projects are being funded through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, a project of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. This program is open to private landowners and land trusts seeking to improve wildlife habitat on their property.
For more information on the Wildlands projects, e-mail [email protected] or call 469-7190.