Extreme Makeover: Young forests edition

“Give this land two years,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Ted Kendziora, as he excitedly refers to 22 acres of desolate land in south New Hampshire that received a habitat “makeover” by the Town of Lee Conservation Commission. The property was converted to a young forest, an important environment for many species of native plants and animals, like the New England cottontail.

The 22 acres was covered in exotic plants and aging tree stands that didn’t provide as many benefits to wildlife as native shrubs and tree saplings. Young forests are disappearing at a rapid rate in the northeast.

New England cottontail

New England cottontails need brush to survive.
Credit: USFWS.

This project is part of the solution. By responsibly managing forests by harvesting stands of trees, prescribed burning, and mowing, patches of young forest can be created and maintained within largely mature forest landscapes. Like your own home and yard, our forests require routine maintenance.

This isn’t your typical makeover, as a clear-cut or burned area may look bad to people for a few years. But, as Kendziora explains, it will be a welcoming and life-sustaining home for wildlife.

Kendziora works for the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Along with numerous partners he is helping to complete two restoration projects that will create much needed habitat for early successional or young forest-dependent wildlife, like New England’s only native rabbit. Read more about the project.

More habitat conservation projects: Gumpas Pond Conservation Area

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