News and announcements
More than $5.1 million in national
grants will fund six coastal wetlands projects in the northeast region
December 22, 2010
The projects will protect about 1,000 acres in Broad Dyke Creek in Delaware;
Basin, Curtis, Long and Seal coves in Maine; Cohansey Bayshore in New Jersey;
Great Marsh Estuary in Massachusetts; and Maquoit Bay in Maine.
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Coastal Program celebrates 25 years
of coastal conservation
November 16, 2010
Read the story at the link below.
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Biologists lead dynamic cottontail
recovery effort in Maine
|Introduction to shrub planting.
April 27, 2010
GOMCP is working with Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge to
increase their outreach capacity for New England cottontail conservation,
and to highlight some of the innovative and important on the ground
projects in Maine led by the refuge, but in partnership with various
other agencies and organizations. We recently submitted this article
to the Service's online Fish
and Wildlife Journal.
Wildlife biologists at Rachel
Carson National Wildlife Refuge are working with partners to reach
out to the public about how they can help save the New England cottontail – the
only native cottontail rabbit species in New England.
"We're working directly with landowners to help them figure
out how they can manage their land in a bunny friendly way," according
to Kelly Boland, Maine's New England cottontail restoration coordinator.
Boland is a contractor for the Environmental
Defense Fund based out of Rachel Carson refuge.
"In areas where rabbits are holding out, there are some landowners
that can really make a difference by making shrubland habitat that rabbits
need," Boland continued. "We work with local land trusts
in these areas to coordinate workshops and land protection strategies."
Working in concert with land trusts and conservation groups builds
their capacities to work with members, volunteers, and landowners to
identify places to make or protect cottontail habitat, and to take steps
towards restoring and managing it, Boland added.
But the partnership approach to outreach goes beyond knocking on doors
and setting up workshops. "There's an education piece, too," Boland
said. Recently, the refuge heard from a concerned public when a nine
acre patch of trees was cut on refuge land to restore it to shrubland.
"We're trying to explain that making habitat sometimes
means a noticeable change to the landscape," she added. Shrublands
benefit a suite of other important species including grouse, woodcock,
eastern towhee, brown thrasher, common yellowthroat, and eastern box
turtle. "We want people to understand that we're not just
managing for one species."
|Refuge land cleared to create shrubland habitat.
The refuge received a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Challenge Cost
Share grant this year to produce a brochure about the importance of
shrubland habitat, along with interpretative signs to help our visitors
and neighbors understand shrubland management. Boland's work is
made possible by a National
Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, under its Keystone Initiative
for declining early successional wildlife species.
Boland keeps a full schedule of outreach and education activities.
For example, she recently led a 'Lunch and Learn' with rabbit
colleague Sue Bickford from the Wells
National Estuarine Research Reserve. Other plans are in the works,
including a presentation and natural history talk for Maine Audubon,
shrub planting as part of Endangered
Species Day, and a workshop for forest landowners in coordination
with Ken Canfield from the Maine
Boland occasionally works with area schools to get them involved in
cottontail conservation and management. For example, she co-hosted a
volunteer day with David Mallard from York
Land Trust where they invited a local school group to the trust's
Highland Farm to measure habitat. Working with local schools on cottontail
projects, according to Boland, is great outreach because it connects
kids with nature and gets the job done at the same time. Recently, Richard
Johnston of Coastal Ridge Elementary School in York, ME contacted Boland
to inform her that the school produced a play about life cycles at which
they collected $100 in donations that they wanted to contribute to cottontail
|Shrub planting at Rachel Carson NWR.
Additional outreach and workshop opportunities come up on a regular
basis, according to Boland, however she emphasizes that the most important
activity is making shrubland before the cottontail disappears.
Once abundant throughout the northeast, the New England cottontail
has declined dramatically over the last 50 years prompting its status
as a candidate under the federal Endangered
Species Act. Biologists estimate that there may be fewer than 300
individuals left in the state of Maine.
"Most people don't tolerate natural processes that historically
created shrubland, like fire and beaver created floods," Boland
said. "If we don't replace these natural processes, we will
lose those critters that need shrublands to live, including the New
England cottontail." Trends in land use and development and the
succession of fields to forests indicate that the rabbit population
will only continue to decline.
Biologists continue to fight these trends, however. Rachel Carson
refuge is currently managing over 80 acres on refuge lands (Kelly Field,
Libby Field, and Cutts Island) as a mix of regenerating old field, forest
patch cuts, bunny dens, and shrub plantings, according to refuge biologist
Kate O'Brien. "We're always looking for more opportunities
to create shrubland habitat," she added. "We are aiming
to make several large blocks of habitat so that we can create secure
areas for the rabbits to thrive."
|Kelly Field at Rachel Carson NWR.
According to O'Brien, cottontail conservation at the refuge
also involves growing native shrubs, lots of transplanting, and experimenting
with methods to increase stem densities using dormant season burns and
other techniques like girdling and seeding.
Rather than tackling each management project on their own, the refuge
coordinates with the Maine New England Cottontail Working Group, which
is a network of wildlife biologists and land managers from federal and
state agencies and private organizations. The working group also includes
researchers from University
of New Hampshire who are conducting genetic studies to determine
the population sizes and landscape barriers of New England cottontail
throughout most of its range.
Resources Conservation Service, a participant in the working group,
is funding a 70 acre restoration effort in the Town of Wells through
Habitat Incentives Program. "Landowners don't need
to try to manage for shrublands on their own," Boland said. "Incentive
payments like the NRCS WHIP are available, and contractors can be used
to get big jobs done."
For more information on New England cottontail restoration in Maine,
contact Kelly Boland via email at email@example.com or
call (207) 646-9226 x 32.
Our Partners in New England Cottontail Conservation
Department of Conservation
Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
of New Hampshire
Natural Resources Conservation Service
USFWS Maine Field Office
USFWS New England Field Office
USFWS Rachel Carson
National Wildlife Refuge
National Estuarine Research Reserve
County Soil and Water Conservation District
New England Cottontail Links
New England Cottontail Information and Links
Defense Fund - NEC Habitat Management
of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension
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Six habitat protection projects
funded in Maine
April 20, 2010
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded six Small NAWCA grants to conservation
groups in Maine through the Small
North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants program. The funds
will be used to permanently protect high value habitat including salt marshes,
freshwater wetlands, stream and riparian areas, and associated upland habitats
and buffer areas.
“These projects will protect and restore some of Maine’s best wildlife habitats
and benefit a very diverse set of high-priority species, including Atlantic
Salmon, and migratory birds like American Black Duck, Roseate Terns, Least Bitterns,
and Canada Warblers,” according to Mitch Hartley, USFWS Biologist and Assistant
Coordinator for the Atlantic
Coast Joint Venture.
In addition to permanently protecting important individual habitat parcels,
each of the funded projects connects to larger landscape-scale conservation
GOMCP supported all of these projects in one or more ways by creating detailed
maps for each application; working with partners on parcels to calculate wetland
acres, shore front, and stream length; and providing habitat packages from the Gulf
of Maine Watershed Habitat Analysis. The maps that GOMCP provided depict
conservation lands, a regional view of the project, state natural resources,
national wetland inventory data, and other important features.
“We have been providing this type of technical assistance to our conservation
partners in the Gulf of Maine for several years,” commented Stewart Fefer, project
leader for GOMCP. In the last three years, GOMCP assisted with seven successful
Small NAWCA proposals in 2008, five in 2007, and four in 2006. “By working together
and utilizing the skills and resources of each organization, we have accomplished
much more than any of us could have alone.”
The Service awarded a total of $395,000 to Maine this year. Five of the six
Maine grants received $75,000 - the maximum amount allowed through this program.
In each case, the federal funds are being matched with other funding sources.
Grants were awarded to Forest
Society of Maine, Great
Works Regional Land Trust, National
Audubon Society, Pleasant
River Wildlife Foundation, State
of Maine Department of Marine Fisheries, and Western
Foothills Land Trust; but the funds will benefit many other groups through
This year’s successful Small NAWCA projects are summarized below.
|Half-mile Pond and Bluff.
Amherst Community Forest Project
($75,000 awarded, $107,500 non-federal match)
The Forest Society of Maine is working with the Maine Bureau of Parks and
Lands to purchase a conservation easement that permanently protects an ecologically
significant in-holding in the 5,200 acre Amherst Community Forest. The in-holding,
known as the Haynes Brook parcel, contains nearly 200-acres of highly rated
wetlands and buffering uplands in the heart of the Community Forest. It includes
the Forest’s most important emergent and scrub-shrub wetland complex and one
of its three main stream/riparian corridors. This project is part of a larger
landscape conservation initiative, the Lower Penobscot Forest Project, which
aims to conserve 63,000 acres of unfragmented forest abutting and buffering Sunkhaze
Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Combined, these conserved lands will form
a connected landscape of wetlands, streams, riparian and upland buffers, and
an array of forest types and age-classes critical to populations of hundreds
of species of wildlife, many of which have been identified as having national
or state priorities for conservation.
This project was completed as a partnership between Forest
Society of Maine, Maine
Bureau of Parks and Lands, Town
of Amherst, U.S.
Forest Service Legacy Program, Land
for Maine’s Future Program, MDIFW, Maine
Natural Areas Program, The
Nature Conservancy – Maine Chapter, and GOMCP.
Dennys River Corridor Conservation Project – Wheaton
($20k awarded, $45,800 non-federal match)
This project supports the acquisition of the Wheaton Property in Meddybemps,
Maine by the State of Maine Department of Marine Resources Bureau of Sea Run
Fisheries and Habitat (DMR). The 50.8 acre property includes 1,000 feet of frontage
on the Dennys River and consists of uplands mixed with forested and shrub wetlands
and beaver flowages. The habitats on the property support several sea run fish
like alewife and Atlantic salmon, and birds including red-shouldered hawk, American
woodcock, osprey, and bald eagle. The downstream boundary of the Wheaton property
abuts DMR’s Atlantic Salmon Corridor, which includes a 1,100 acre parcel that
has been permanently protected. Habitat protection surrounding the Dennys River
corridor is an ongoing effort involving numerous partners and is a goal of the Maine
Atlantic Salmon Recovery Plan. Protecting upland and riparian habitat in
the watershed helps protect water quality that fish rely on during various stages
of their lifecycles.
“The Wheaton property will make an excellent addition to the Atlantic
Salmon Corridor, while also providing important habitat for a variety of mammals,
birds, amphibian and invertebrates. MDIFW enthusiastically offers its support
for this project.”
– Rich Bard, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist, MDIFW
“Dennys River riparian habitats are threatened by conversion to residential
development and forestland cutting which would impact the wetlands and riparian
corridor and possibly stream quality that would impact the habitat of endangered
salmon. Through the work of the Downeast Coastal Conservancy, working with
the landowner, a rare opportunity to protect another piece of the Dennys River
corridor is possible.”
– Stewart I. Fefer, Project Leader, GOMCP
This project was completed as a partnership between State
of Maine Department of Marine Resources Bureau of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat, The
Nature Conservancy – Maine Chapter, Downeast
Coastal Conservancy, Dennys River Sportsman’s Club, Land
For Maine’s Future Program, Maine
Atlantic Salmon Commission, MDIFW,
|Beaver Dam Creek.
||Credit: Wilfred Bryan
Grants Meadow III – Critical Upland and Stream Conservation in Southern
Maine’s Beaver Dam Heath
($75,000 awarded, $264,467 non-federal match)
Grants Meadow III is the final phase of a five-year conservation effort that
will protect approximately 33 acres of rich wetland habitat in Berwick Maine
within Beaver Dam Heath. Beaver Dam Heath is a wetland mosaic of over 1,000
acres interspersed with upland forest recognized for its high habitat value
and presence of rare plant and animal communities. The land will be owned by
Great Works Regional Land Trust (GWRLT) in perpetuity and managed to preserve
and or enhance their habitat value for threatened and endangered species. This
project is adjacent to two recent conservation acquisitions by GWRLT and will
enhance the conservation values of these 117 conserved acres.
This project was completed as a partnership between Great
Works Regional Land Trust, Town
of Berwick, private landowners, and GOMCP.
Mason Bay Coastal Wetlands & Waterbird
Conservation Project – Bronfeld Parcel
($75,000 awarded, $86,000 non-federal match)
|South shore of Bronfeld Pparcel.
This project supports the acquisition and permanent protection of the Bronfeld
Parcel in Jonesboro, Maine. The 63.2 acre parcel is located in Mason Bay, which
offers exceptional habitat values for waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, bald
eagles, and sea run fish. The bay nearly empties at low tide, offering a productive
combination of salt marshes and expansive mudflats for internationally important
migratory waterbirds. In winter, the shallow bay and freshwater creeks that
feed it remain largely unfrozen, providing reliable and vital wintering habitat
for black duck and other waterfowl. In addition, Bald eagles have nested in
the vicinity of Mason Bay for at least the past eight years. The Bronfield parcel
will be owned and permanently protected by the Pleasant River Wildlife Foundation.
Nearby conservation parcels include 437.5 acres also owned by PRWF, and 14 acres
owned by Downeast Coastal Conservancy.
“MCHT has worked for many years alongside PRWF and our other local, state,
and federal partners in the region to protect some of the most significant
lands along the downeast coast.”
– Patrick Watson, Project Manager, Maine Coast Heritage Trust
“We are impressed with the thoughtfulness and level of professionalism
PRWF brings to our regional conservation efforts. Their work in the estuaries
and coastal lands complements both DCC’s conservation program and a larger
regional landscape-scale initiative being developed by the Downeast Land Trust
– Tom Boutureira, Executive Director, Downeast Coastal Conservancy
This project was completed as a partnership between Pleasant
River Wildlife Foundation, Ducks
Unlimited, Inc., The
Nature Conservancy – Maine Chapter, Maine
Coast Heritage Trust, Downeast
Coastal Conservancy, and GOMCP.
Restoration and Enhancement of Waterbird Nesting Habitat on Maine
($75,000 awarded, $75,000 non-federal match)
This project supports National Audubon Society Seabird Restoration Program’s
work on habitat restoration and enhancement on Matinicus Rock, Eastern Egg Rock,
Jenny Island, Outer Green Island, and Stone Island and also includes the acquisition
of Eastern Island. The largest suite of marine birds in the northeast are found
only on a set of 14 key islands that are managed by conservation partners to
prevent or reduce undue interference by humans or predators during the nesting
season. This project proposes to restore habitat on five of these islands, with
a focus on terns because successful tern colonies (which exclude predatory gulls,
crows, and raptors) benefit diverse populations of native birds including common
eiders, alcids (e.g., puffins, guillemots, and murres) and other waterbirds.
The system of managed sanctuaries offers geographically dispersed colony sites,
similar to what existed in precolonial times, for terns to relocate should their
initial breeding attempt fail due to predators, weather, or disease. In addition
to preventing human disturbance and mitigating the effects of predators (mink,
gulls, corvids, etc.), there is also a need for vegetation management. The acquisition
of Eastern Island benefits seabirds in perpetuity and restoring and enhancing
the other islands will benefit waterbirds for at least ten years.
“I have little doubt that the habitat enhancement work on these nationally
significant seabird nesting islands will go a long way towards meeting my
agency’s State Wildlife Action Plan priorities for these sea birds and waterfowl.
As has been demonstrated in the past, a commitment to high standards of management
by this dedicated team of partners will result in many worthwhile accomplishments.”
– Brad Allen, Bird Group Leader, MDIFW
This project was completed as a partnership between National
Audubon Society, Maine
Coast Heritage Trust, USFWS
Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge, MDIFW,
Watkins Crooked River Easement Acquisition
($75,000 awarded, $135,000 non-federal match)
|Wetland habitat along Russell Brook.
This project supports the Western Foothills Land Trust (WFLT) in the purchase
of a conservation easement in the Crooked River watershed that will protect
125 acres of wetland and wetland buffer surrounding Russell Brook in Harrison,
Maine. The easement protects a critical reach of the Crooked River watershed
valued for its forest, grassland, and freshwater wetland habitat that is important
for wading birds, waterfowl, migratory birds, and fish. The Crooked River is
the only spawning ground for Sebago Lake’s landlocked Atlantic salmon. In addition,
about 40 percent of the surface water inflow to Sebago Lake, the drinking water
source for more than 200,000 people in Greater Portland, comes from the Crooked
River. The 125 acre Watkins easement was matched, in part, by a 350 acre easement
donated in 2007 by private landowners. Acquiring the Watkins property easement
is the first phase of a project that will eventually protect 690 acres of the
Crooked River watershed. In addition, the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF)
anticipates that nearby lands and lands abutting the Watkins easement will come
into NEFF ownership in the near future, creating a substantial contiguous conservation
area of nearly 1,200 acres. The Watkins property will continue to be managed
by the landowners, but the easement will be held and monitored by WFLT.
“Our decision to pledge funds in the region reflects our appreciation
of the collaborative efforts by local land trusts, working in partnership
with the Portland Water District, to link land conservation and protection
of water quality.”
– Curtis C. Bohlen, Executive Director, CBEP
This project was completed as a partnership between Western
Foothills Land Trust, Portland
Water District, Casco
Bay Estuary Partnership, MDIFW, Integrated
Forestry Management, New
England Forestry Foundation, Manomet
Center for Conservation Sciences, private landowners, and GOMCP.
American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) provides U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service funds to implement the North
American Waterfowl Management Plan, which was developed to manage, restore
and/or permanently protect our continent’s remaining high value habitat for
migratory birds (with and emphasis on wetlands, waterbirds and federally threatened/endangered
species). This international effort funds the Small Grants program (up to $75,000
in federal funds) and the Large Grants program (up to $1,000,000 in federal
For more information on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant programs in Maine
for habitat protection and restoration, contact Stewart
Fefer at 207-781-8364 or visit the grants
page on our website.
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Guide to pollinator biology and habitat available from NRCS
|NRCS pollinator guide.
March 24, 2010
The New Hampshire U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservatoin
Service (USDA NRCS) recently released a "New
England Biology Technical Note" (PDF 3.7 MB) with information on how
to plan for, protect, and create habitat for pollinators in agricultural
Publication of the Technical Note was a joint effort of the Xerces
of Maine Cooperative Extension, and the Maine, New
Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut,
Island NRCS state offices.
The Gulf of Maine Coastal Program works to support the conservation and restoration
of the habitats and species of the Gulf of Maine.
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Fish passage restored to Blackman Stream
|Blackman Stream fishway.
January 28, 2010
GOMCP worked with partners to complete construction of a fishway on Blackman
Stream in Bradley, Maine (map,
JPG 510 KB). The project reconnects Chemo Pond and Blackman Stream to the
Penobscot River and allows alewives and American eel access to upstream pond
and stream habitat. At 1,223 acres, Chemo Pond has the ability to restore
a run of 270,000 alewives. A run of this size could pour over 100 million
juvenile alewives into the main stem of the Penobscot River for the benefit
of Atlantic salmon and the entire Penobscot ecosystem.
Alewives historically used Chemo Pond for spawning, but have not been able
to reach it since the construction of several dams on Blackman Stream in the
late 1700's. The historic Leonard's
Mills Logging Museum Dam represented the only impassable structure on Blackman
Stream below Chemo Pond. GOMCP and our partners recognized the importance of
working cooperatively with the museum to balance conservation priorities with
historic preservation. This unique partnership produced a fishway designed to
fit in with the historic character of the site that restores access for fish
to Chemo Pond and the Penobscot watershed while providing an educational centerpiece
for fish passage restoration. A trail, two viewing bridges, and a kiosk will
be constructed as part of the project and will contribute to the educational
experience of visitors to the museum.
In addition to alewives and American eel, sea-run trout may also benefit from
the project. Atlantic salmon will benefit indirectly from the alewife restoration
since alewives serve as a prey buffer during multiple phases of their life cycle,
and they also bring marine-derived nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous and carbon)
into the watershed. These nutrients can enhance the diversity and abundance
of insects and other life in the benthic community which in turn could benefit
juvenile classes of salmon in the river. The project is linked to the larger
Penobscot River Restoration Project which is in the process of removing three
significant barriers on the river system. The Gulf
of Maine distinct population segment of Atlantic salmon is listed under
the Endangered Species Act.
The project was made possible through a partnership with the Maine
Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation and the Maine
Forest and Logging Museum along with support from the Maine
Department of Marine Resources, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Penobscot
Indian Nation, Penobscot
River Restoration Trust, Maine
Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, and The
Nature Conservancy. GOMCP provided funding and assistance with planning,
permitting, design, and construction of the fishway.
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