Thursday, March 17, 2016

City Awarded a Grant for a Habitat and Invasive Species Management Plan for Water Supply Land

City Awarded Grant for a Habitat and Invasive Species Management Plan for Water Supply Land

The City of Northampton Department of Public Works (DPW) was awarded a 2016 MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant (MHMGP) for $15,648 for habitat and invasive species management on a former apple orchard within the watershed to the Mountain Street Public Drinking Water Reservoir.  DPW proposes the removal of invasive shrubs and vines to maintain and improve early successional shrubland and young forest habitat.  Tree regeneration is completely lacking in the proposed project area and there is excessive growth of native grapevines and invasive oriental bittersweet. 

By managing invasive species, this project will benefit the 11.5 acre project site, and will also benefit 51.5 acres of adjacent water supply property. Adjacent water supply land is currently being logged to remove red pine plantations that are declining because of the invasive red pine scale.  Mulching and mowing the oriental bittersweet, multiflora rose and other invasive shrubs will reduce the seed source in the area and reduce the spread of invasive species into nearby forest stands.  The project goal  is to establish  an early successional forest comprised mostly of native species with residual apple trees and scattered forest trees. 

According to the 2015 Massachusetts State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP), shrubland and early successional habitats are generally lacking within Massachusetts forests.  A number of games species and species listed in the SWAP will benefit from the changes in habitat including: black bear, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, gray squirrel, bobcat, coyote, red and gray fox, fisher and mink.  Other species that may use these areas include: North American racer, whip-poor-will, black-billed cuckoo, Nashville warbler, eastern towhee, prairie warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, field sparrow, brown thrasher, blue-winged warbler, white-throated sparrow and New England cottontail.  Many forest-breeding species utilize edge and early successional forest in post fledgling life stages, including wood thrush, scarlet tanager and broad-winged hawk.

Contact: James R. Laurila, P.E, Interim DPW Director