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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

NEW! Barn Island Wildlife Management Area, Stonington

A wetland habitat enhancement and road improvement project will be conducted at Barn Island Wildlife Management Area (WMA) during the period of November 1 through December 31, 2021. The work will involve the replacement and enhancement of four culverts that currently restrict tidal flow into four of the wetland impoundments. The lack of tidal exchange is resulting in degradation of the salt marsh and a transition in vegetation cover and wildlife use. Sections of the service road/trail will be temporarily closed to public access while the work is being conducted. For your safety and the safety of others, please obey all signage and avoid entering the work areas.

Coastal New England and Long Island Sound contain critical habitat for migratory birds. Barn Island WMA is designated as an Important Bird Area and contains the largest tract of saltmarsh adjacent to undeveloped coastal forest in New England. Restoration through re-establishment of tidal flow of 142 acres of saltmarsh at Barn Island WMA will benefit over 20 Greatest Conservation Need bird species, including green-winged teal, American black duck, gadwall, mallard, clapper rail, saltmarsh sparrow, least bittern, glossy ibis, roseate tern, and least tern. Questions about this project may be directed to the DEEP Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011 or DEEP.Wildlife@ct.gov.

More Information on Barn Island WMA

 

Zemko Pond Wildlife Management Area, Salem

Image of the sign at Zemko Pond Wildlife Management AreaThe Wildlife Division implemented forest habitat management activities at Zemko Pond Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Salem, CT starting in August 2020. The habitat management project involved 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 is being 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 Connecticut 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. 

Map of the Project

Related Resources

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 Grasslands, Shrublands, and Young Forest Habitats for Wildlife: A Guide for the Northeast

Managing Forests for Trees and Birds in Connecticut ( A publication by Audubon Connecticut)

Benefits of Clearcuts Brochure

Content last updated in October 2021.