Habitat Management at Wildlife Management Areas and State Forests
The mission of the DEEP Wildlife Division is to advance the conservation, use, and appreciation of Connecticut’s wildlife resources. The Division’s Habitat Management Program supports this mission by managing for a diversity of habitats for Connecticut's wildlife species on our system of 109 state-owned wildlife management areas (WMAs), as well as state forests and other state and private lands. These lands also support wildlife-based recreation, including hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife viewing and the Habitat Program is responsible for managing and maintaining these areas to support that use. A range of techniques are used to manage wildlife habitat, including forest harvests, mulching and mowing, prescribed burning, invasive plant control, and open marsh water management.
On-going Habitat Management Projects at WMAs
Zemko Pond Wildlife Management Area, Salem
The Wildlife Division will be implementing forest habitat management activities at Zemko Pond Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Salem, CT starting on August 24, 2020. The habitat management project will involve the removal of selected trees over a 28-acre area in the interior of the 464-acre WMA. Roughly 22-acres of the project site will be managed to create and enhance young forest habitat and conditions for associated young forest-dependent wildlife species. Historically, natural disturbances and agricultural abandonment helped sustain young forest habitat and its associated species. As our forests have matured, habitat for young forest-dependent wildlife has declined. In the absence of natural disturbances, like fires or flooding, natural resource managers use forest management techniques to initiate disturbance and facilitate vegetation changes which will be suitable for wildlife species that rely on young, seedling and sapling-stage forest. The State Wildlife Action Plan identifies over 50-species of Greatest Conservation Need which require this successional stage of habitat. These species include the American woodcock, eastern towhee, New England cottontail, prairie warbler, brown thrasher, and field sparrow. The Wildlife Division, in cooperation with other partners, has joined the Young Forest Habitat Initiative to help restore these important habitats.
The remaining 6-acres of project site are being managed to facilitate safety from hazard trees, long-term maintenance, and efficient growth adjacent to the DEEP Access Road, which also serves as a popular walking path.
DEEP will be putting up signs at the site to inform the public of this ongoing activity. Portions of the WMA in the immediate area of the management activities will be effectively closed for the duration of the project to facilitate public safety while tree felling and heavy equipment operation are ongoing in the area. DEEP will be overseeing the harvest every few days to ensure compliance with the contract, Best Management Practices, and applicable safety standards. We expect this vegetation management project will significantly increase habitat use by young forest-dependent species which are increasingly rare on our landscape.
Connecticut's Young Forest Habitat Initiative
The Wildlife Division, in cooperation with other partners, has initiated the Young Forest Habitat Initiative to help restore important habitats. Projects associated with this initiative include: 1) New England Cottontail Restoration; 2) Shrubland Bird Monitoring; and 3) American Woodcock Habitat Use and Survival.
Managing Forests for Trees and Birds in Connecticut ( A publication by Audubon Connecticut)
Content last updated February 11, 2021.