Rehabilitation project to restore rare wildlife habitat

Environment

Vermont — The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department will begin a timber harvest project to restore a sandplain forest natural community at the Sandbar Wildlife Management Area in Milton. The sandplain forest type is one of the most unique and rare wildlife habitats in Vermont and hosts more than 23 rare plants including wild lupine and lace love-grass.

“We are collaborating with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation on this project to restore the native pitch pine and oak habitat,” said Christopher Herrick, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Commissioner. “Sandbar WMA has one of the largest remaining examples of this increasingly rare habitat in Vermont. Sandplain forests have been lost primarily to development, and there are only a few examples left of this size in Chittenden County.”

Sandplain forests are predominantly made up of pitch pine trees. Red maple and black oak are also among common canopy species.

“The timber harvest will remove red pine as well as the non-native black locust and Japanese Larch,” says Wildlife Biologist John Gobeille. “The black locust is very invasive.”

“There should be a very good response by wildlife once the project is completed,” added Gobeille.  “There will likely be a lot of re-growth of aspen and gray birch for deer browse and new feeding areas for wild turkey.  Shrub development will be beneficial for shrub-nesting songbirds such as indigo bunting and eastern towhee.” 

“Forest raptors will also benefit from the new hunting areas.  The release of oak in the understory and the pitch pines will eventually promote more mast, (nuts and berries) for wildlife.  The existing large pitch pines will be retained and should experience larger seed crops once their canopies are released and will allow more germination of this characteristic species of sandplain habitat.” 

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