Wildlife & Habitat

Wapack Trail - Matt Poole/USFWS.
  • Northern Hardwood-Conifer Forest

    The northern hardwood-conifer forest is found around the refuge in the mid-and upper-elevations, serving as a transition from the lower hemlock-hardwood-pine forest to the high elevation spruce-fir forest. This is the most abundant refuge habitat type. Approximately 705 acres of northern hardwood-conifer forest are present on the refuge. The northern hardwood-conifer forest is characterized by American beech, sugar maple, and yellow birch. The northern hardwood-conifer forest supports a large diversity of plant life. The most common tree types are yellow birch, eastern hemlock, American beech, white pine and red oak. The understory of the northern hardwood-conifer forest is very diverse, including striped maple, high bush blueberry, mountain laurel, and hobblebush. Ephemeral plants and other woodland wildflowers thrive in this forest type. Trillium, goldthread, wild sarsaparilla, pink lady’s slipper, wood sorrel and several ferns are found in the herbaceous layer of this forest type.

  • Spruce-Fir Forest

    The spruce-fir forest, which is the dominant forest type in northern latitudes, covers approximately 10 percent of New Hampshire, occurs on the refuge mostly above 1,500 feet in elevation. Approximately 323 acres of spruce-fir forest are present on the refuge. In this latitude, this habitat type occurs primarily on high mountain ridges. Trees such as red spruce and balsam fir dominate, while paper birch and poplar are common early successional species. The spruce-fir forest lacks the diversity of the northern hardwood forest because the dark shade cast by the canopy and the acidic needle-covered soil make it hard for most species to grow. The most common shrubs include mountain ash, sheep laurel, and low bush blueberry. The herbaceous understory contains clintonia, starflower, bunchberry as well as lichens and mosses. Another key feature of the spruce-fir forest is that the tree size becomes smaller as the elevation rises toward the summit. Upslope, spruce-fir forest systems typically transition to northern hardwood-conifer systems.

  • Old Field Habitat

    The stone walls which crisscross the land near the refuge show old field boundaries, which are clues to an agricultural history. Natural succession has converted most of the old field habitat to mature forest. The only old field habitat that remains is on the north slope of North Pack Monadnock. Approximately 35 acres of old field habitat are present on the refuge. Large junipers growing in this upland field, typical of old pastures, are now in succession to the spruce-fir forest which surrounds them. High bush blueberry plants can also be seen growing in the understory of the forest, suggesting that they once grew in an open location.