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State plans walks on the wild side; State tours focus on abandoned land.

Byline: Bradford L. Miner

BELCHERTOWN - Professional state foresters and state wildlife officials will host tours at 11 state-owned properties to discuss state forestry and wildlife habitat management practices.

Eight of the public tours will take place on Department of Fish and Game wildlife management areas and three will occur on Department of Conservation and Recreation land.

The wildlife walks will focus on abandoned agricultural land that has become shrub and grassland habitat, suitable for wildlife.

Mary Griffin, fish and game commissioner, said in a news release such habitats have declined dramatically across the state over the past century, and native plants and animals associated with these open habitats have declined as well.

A tour of the Millers River Wildlife Management Area on Pequoig Avenue, Athol, is planned for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 22. The Cass Meadow portion of the Millers River area is a combination of state, town, and private conservation land at the confluence of the Millers River and the Tully River in downtown Athol. The meadow is abandoned agricultural land that is mowed periodically to provide shrubby bird habitat.

Other wildlife events are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at Dunstable Brook Wildlife Management Area in Tyngsboro; 6:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Leyden Wildlife Management Area, Glen Road, Leyden; 6:30 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Martin Burns Wildlife Management Area, Orchard Street, Newbury; 6:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Eugene Moran Wildlife Management Area, Route 8A, Windsor; 6:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Francis Crane Wildlife Management Area, Route 151, Falmouth; 6 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Hiram Fox Wildlife Management Area, Ireland Street Extension, Chesterfield; and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Southwick Wildlife Management Area, South Longyard Road, Southwick.

"We encourage people to attend one or more of these events to learn how active habitat management bolsters native wildlife populations," Ms. Griffin said.

Two of the Department of Conservation and Recreation events will take participants through forested areas harvested for watershed management, timber production and forest and wildlife habitat diversity. A third tour will feature a small sawmill that produces rough lumber for local home and agricultural uses.Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Edward M. Lambert Jr. said the Patrick-Murray administration wants to engage the public on forest-related issues and welcomes people to share their thoughts, questions and concerns while enjoying a walk in the woods.

The first tour will begin at 6 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Quabbin Visitors Center, 485 Ware Road.

State foresters will discuss the results from timber-harvest operations, including plantation management, during the past decade. They will also discuss how forest regeneration improves watershed management.

At 6 p.m. Aug. 23, state foresters will lead a tour at Lawton State Forest on Townsend Road in Athol. Participants will visit a former Christmas tree plantation that has been managed by foresters as it becomes reforested.

Jim Conkey, owner of C&M Rough Cut Lumber Sawmill on North Dana Road, New Salem, will demonstrate how he converts trees into lumber at 6 p.m. Aug. 30 at the sawmill.

Mr. Conkey specializes in custom orders for rough-cut lumber and firewood. If time allows, the tour will include a visit to an irregular shelterwood harvest on the Quabbin reservation.

Those planning to attend are asked to meet at the DCR Water Supply Protection office, 21 Elm St., New Salem.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 11, 2011
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