Woodland Owners are Key to Improving Wildlife Habitat

The northeast region of the United States is home to some of the most densely forested lands throughout the country. With more than half of these forests owned by private landowners, residents play a vital role in conservation efforts of many threatened wildlife species and healthy wooded ecosystems. The American Forest Foundation, in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, are working with family woodland owners to enhance and promote the region’s habitat.

Historically, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has worked beside landowners to boost habitat with outstanding results. Below, we showcase just how much we can accomplish when we work as a team.

delmarvafoxThe Delmarva Fox Squirrel is a great example of a conservation success story by landowners. More than 80 percent of the squirrels forested habitat is privately owned. As landowners continue to support the squirrels with routine timber harvest and farming with sufficient mature forest nearby, the species continues to thrive and expand across the working landscapes of the Delmarva Peninsula.

Rick and Donna Ambrose, landowners and cottontail conservationists. (Photo credit: Kate Whitacre, USFWS)

Rick and Donna Ambrose, landowners and cottontail conservationists. (Photo credit: Kate Whitacre, USFWS)

Landowners, Rick and Donna, along with numerous foresters, farmers, birdwatchers, biologists, hunters and conservationists, have been part of a coordinated effort aimed at conserving the New England cottontail. Rick and Donna have improved and created young forest habitat on their land to benefit New England cottontail and numerous other species, including woodcock, bobcats, snowshoe hares, a broad range of songbirds, box turtles, and frosted elfin butterflies. Their tremendous efforts have helped keep the cottontail off the Endangered Species List.

This is a New England cottontail. Credit: Tom Barnes / USFWS

This is a New England cottontail. Credit: Tom Barnes / USFWS

Additional efforts to support New England cottontail conservation are happening all throughout the Northeast! Benny Caiola is a real estate developer, but for the next several years, he’s going to be developing some of his land with a different goal in mind — restoration of the New England cottontail rabbit. Caiola, who lives in Larchmont, NY, owns 300 acres in Patterson, in Putnam County, that adjoins about 1,000 acres of state land. The land will now be managed to benefit young forest for the cottontails. This type of habitat restoration also benefits approximately 40-plus species, like turkey and deer!

Partners (loggers Joe Zarecki and Faun Koplovsky, forester Doug Ramey, Ted Kendziora with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) stand in front of our first private landowner project in New York. Photo courtesy of Benny Caiola

Working together with motivated landowners and partners is crucial to conservation success. These relationships have been instrumental in developing key projects with great benefit to the species.

Check out the blogs below to see more great stories like these!

Working Lands for Wildlife

Cooperation, Conversation, and Conservation


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