[CT Birds] Great Thicket NWR

Kathy Van Der Aue kathyvda at gmail.com
Sun Mar 6 17:02:31 EST 2016

Here's an article from "The Birding Community E Bulletin" about the Great
Thicket proposal together with a link to the information plus address for
comment.  As Patrick mentioned, the comment period has been extended until
April 3rd, in case anyone wanted to send in a comment.

"Shrublands and young forests in the northeastern U.S. often have two
fates: they are either cleared for development, or they grow into mature
forests. The first option ultimately means a loss of habitat, a loss that
cannot be reversed. The second option is beneficial for woodland-oriented
birds and wildlife, but it has a downside in that there are both winners
and losers in the process. Those species that depend on dynamic,
short-lived shrubland and young forest habitats eventually get squeezed out
as the forests mature into habitats that are no longer acceptable to them.
They then become the losers.

Fortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that more
permanently protected and managed shrubland habitat is needed to restore
wildlife populations and return an ecological balance to the Northeast. To
accomplish this, the USFWS has proposed establishing a Great Thicket
National Wildlife Refuge, in 10 separate focus areas in Maine, New
Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York. Many of
these landscapes are intended to secure habitat for the New England
cottontail rabbit, however many early-successional bird species are also
expected to benefit.

Not surprisingly, the 10 sites overlap or touch already-designated
Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in these six states. Depending on the stage of
vegetative growth in each site, benefits would accrue to such species as
American Woodcock, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Prairie Warbler, Blue-winged
Warbler, Brown Thrasher, and Eastern Towhee.

If the Great Thicket plan is approved, the USFWS could begin working with
willing and interested landowners to acquire about 15,000 acres of land
through conservation easements and fee-title acquisition. The Service
stresses that it will work only with willing sellers, and that no owners
will be forced to sell land for the new refuge unless they want to. Not
surprisingly the land acquisition process could take decades to finalize.

You can read more details and access the proposal itself here, with the
comment period extended to 3 April:

Kathy Van Der Aue
Southport, Connecticut
Visit my Blog at http://naturaliststable.wordpress.com

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