The National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s New England Forests & Rivers Fund awarded the Ruffed Grouse Society & American Woodcock Society (RGS & AWS) Northeast conservation team $180,000 to implement critical forest habitat work throughout the region. Known as the New York and Vermont Forest Block Initiative, the project will advance landscape-level forest habitat projects aimed at increasing habitat diversity across the St. Lawrence Valley of New York and the Champlain Valley of Vermont. The project will include:
- 2 large-scale dynamic forest restoration blocks in NY and VT with 4,000 acres under management
- 1,000 acres under improved forest management on surrounding private lands
- 200 acres of forest habitat diversity
- 300 forest landowners reached through outreach and training
RGS & AWS will build upon existing opportunities available through our National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) Program to increase capacity for work across the region, support workforce development and access to specialized equipment and collocate public land projects adjacent to WLFW private land projects to maximize habitat benefits.
“We’re excited to partner with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s New England Forest and Rivers Fund on this project. Creating diverse forests is not something we can do alone. We need landowners, partners, public land managers and the conservation community to support healthy forest habitat. That’s what this grant is advancing across northern New York and Vermont,” said Todd Waldron, RGS & AWS Northeast Forest Conservation Director.
The Indiana University of Pennsylvania and American Bird Conservancy, in partnership with Pheasants Forever and NRCS, has provided sub-award funding for two RGS & AWS WLFW foresters in Vermont and New York. Audubon New York and Audubon Vermont will be key partners in conducting both private landowner outreach and participation as well as public awareness and educational activities. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will be critical partners, providing the bulk of the public land portions of restoration blocks identified by the agencies, including Upper and Lower Lakes State Wildlife Area (NY) and Fairfield Swamp State Wildlife Area (VT). RGS & AWS gained support of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and the Northern Forest Center to partner on forest workforce development initiatives. NRCS staff assist in all aspects of the WLFW program project implementation, specifically the Watertown and Colchester offices. Private landowners surrounding public land focal areas will be key partners and a focus of our targeted outreach efforts to deliver NRCS WLFW funding and habitat outcomes.
If you’re a landowner in northern New York or Vermont’s Champlain Valley region who’s interested in learning more about WLWF assistance, contact Jesse Rock (NY) at JesseR@RuffedGrouseSociety.org or Luke McNally (VT) at LukeM@RuffedGrouseSociety.org. For more information on the New York and Vermont Forest Block Initiative, contact RGS & AWS Northeast Forest Conservation Director Todd Waldron at ToddW@RuffedGrouseSociety.org.
About the Ruffed Grouse Society & American Woodcock Society
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society unites conservationists to improve wildlife habitat and forest health and promote a conservation ethic, all grounded in the tenets of science-based management practices.
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