Forestry Walk – Flat Rock Wildlife Sanctuary

01/22/2022
10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Location
Crocker Conservation Area
215 Flat Rock Rd
Fitchburg, MA

Categories

You’re invited to a free public site walk for the project, hosted by Mass Audubon, North County Land Trust (NCLT), and the Worcester County Conservation District (WCCD), on Saturday, January 22 at 10 am at Crocker Conservation Area.  In addition to visiting the heathland site, the walk will pass through a portion of NCLT’s Crocker Conservation Area, where a timber harvest was completed in 2012. NCLT will talk about the goals around the cut and the benefits that they’ve seen from careful forestry.

Below is Mass Audubon’s Press Release on the project:

2022 Pitch Pine Heathland Restoration Project – Flat Rock Wildlife Sanctuary

Mass Audubon is planning to conduct forest cutting activities at the Flat Rock Wildlife Sanctuary in Fitchburg in early 2022 to support the persistence of the sanctuary’s distinctive ridgetop pitch pine heathland. The project will remove red maple, white pine, and other competing tree species from 20 acres of the approximately 40-acre heathland community while retaining oaks and pitch pine, resulting in an open woodland structure. Logging debris will be chipped and removed from the site to decrease fuel loads for wildfire.

Active forest management on a Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuary may come as a surprise to many, as we manage most of our forested acres more passively, such as for carbon sequestration and other benefits of mature/maturing forest. However, in this case, forest succession threatens to degrade an unusual and vulnerable ridgetop heathland community, and an active approach can improve the habitat’s ability to support populations of uncommon birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.

Climate change is an important consideration for this project. The site, a ridgetop with shallow soils, is susceptible to drought, and climate projections indicate that droughts will become both more frequent and intense in the coming decades. Dry conditions increase the site’s vulnerability to fire. Reducing fuel loads on the site will enable periodic, controlled, low-intensity burns in the future to prevent a major fire episode that could endanger the surrounding mature forest or nearby neighborhoods.

Work is anticipated to take approximately three weeks and will involve temporary disruption of access along the sanctuary’s Flat Rock Road Path and other nearby trails along the Flat Rock ridgeline.

The project is being planned in coordination with a Massachusetts-licensed consulting forester, following Best Management Practices as mandated by the Massachusetts Forest Cutting Practices Act. The project is funded in part through the MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program, and project planning has benefitted from guidance provided by MassWildlife staff and other experts.

If you have any questions about the proposed heathland management project, contact Senior Conservation Ecologist Tom Lautzenheiser at tlautzenheiser@massaudubon.org.

Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change.

With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at massaudubon.org.

Registration

Registration is closed for this event.