This month, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced $1.2 million in funding to “protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat in New England.” This includes a grant of $96,368 to Maine Audubon to improve mature forest habitat for forest-dwelling birds.
Our work through this grant will benefit species like the Black-throated Blue Warbler, which are declining across the region, by working with landowners and local foresters to develop and implement forest management plans. The grant will also help Maine Audubon identify stream crossings where bigger culverts will improve riparian habitat and benefit Eastern brook trout and other diadromous fish populations.
With this funding over the next two years, we’ll be expanding our work with landowners in the Kennebec River watershed. This work will combine elements of our Forestry for Maine Birds program and our Stream Smart road crossing work — both of which are focused on ways we can manage land and improve habitat connectivity for many different species of Maine wildlife.
In particular, Maine Audubon and our partners will connect with landowners in the region (particularly those who own over 40 acres of land that includes stream habitat) and offer our resources and support. This will include workshops and forester visits, which will focus on elements that combine to make productive wildlife habitat, including wide buffers along streams, suitable culverts that allow for fish and other wildlife to pass through, and a diversity of tree species and sizes at varying heights and stages of life (including dead and fallen trees, which provide important habitat as well).
The ultimate goal is for landowners to create forest management plans for their property (Maine Audubon will help cover the costs of creating these plans, too). We hope to work with some who will allow their land to serve as a demonstration forest, with self-guided trails and signs explaining the key aspects of how they are managing the land for wildlife.
Our partners in this work will include the Belgrade Lakes Regional Conservation Alliance, Friends of Cobbossee Watershed, Kennebec Land Trust, and Thirty Mile River Watershed Association. We are looking forward to embarking on this important work in the Kennebec River watershed!