Vermont’s state Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are increasingly important in providing a place for people to enjoy wildlife-associated recreation as more of the state is developed. The WMAs also contain key habitats for a diverse array of wildlife species from bats to black bears and spruce grouse to snowshoe hare.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department annually manages 89 WMAs and many riverfront parcels totaling more than 133,000 acres to conserve fish, wildlife and their habitats and for people to enjoy while hunting, fishing, trapping and pursuing other wildlife-based recreation.
A key factor in providing places for many different wildlife species to feed, raise young and find shelter is to have an abundance of different types of habitat available. A mix of mature hardwood and softwood forests, as well as areas with young saplings and open fields all help provide habitat that allows wildlife to prosper. Habitat is constantly changing as trees occupy fields, and as they grow through different stages of development. Maintaining different habitat types requires ongoing management and maintenance.
Each year the Fish & Wildlife Department reports on habitat improvement and maintenance work it performs on the WMAs scattered throughout the state, and the department has just issued its report for 2013 showing that 2,760 acres of habitat on WMAs received treatment of one form or another.
The report, which you can download from Fish & Wildlife’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com), highlights many accomplishments during the year. Here are some examples:
* 646 acres of timber were harvested in 10 different areas, which will stimulate regeneration of young timber.
* 1,102 trees were planted along river banks to restore habitat and stabilize the banks.
* 360 wild fruit and nut trees were maintained.
* 7 acres of apple trees were released
* 64 acres received invasive plant control measures
A major improvement to help people discover and learn about WMAs was added in the form of a new web-based mapping tool (www.anr.state.vt.us/fwd/WmaLocator.aspx) providing better, more up-to-date information.
Fish & Wildlife added 579 acres to four WMAs in 2013, and 12 parcels ranging up to 3,000 acres are currently in various stages of acquisition.
“We acquired many of these WMAs over the years because of the unique habitat they contained, and because they would provide places for people to enjoy wildlife recreation in the future,” said Paul Hamelin, the state wildlife biologist responsible for coordinating the habitat work that gets done on WMAs. “It’s a great feeling of accomplishment to know that today’s children and grandchildren will have accessible places to go where they can enjoy Vermont’s wildlife.”
Media Contacts: Paul Hamelin, 802-751-0101; Mark Scott, 802-751-777-4217