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Spotted Salamander - Photo by Dan Minicucci

Programs

Red Fox near the Westfield River - photo by Dan Minicucci

Monitoring & Research

Wildlife Corridor Management Study

While large stretches of intact forest, wetland and river habitat exist in western Massachusetts, these areas have been historically fragmented by clearing for agriculture, and are becoming increasingly fragmented by the spread of suburban development.  Land use conversion to development and fragmentation from roads divide areas of natural cover into smaller and smaller pieces.  Dams and undersized crossings continue to divide rivers into stretches too small to support many of our native fish species. 

Habitat fragmentation causes public safety issues including vehicle-animal collisions and road washouts, and it makes moderately mobile species (including salamanders, turtles, porcupines, and many others) more vulnerable to natural disturbance and disease. 

In the Westfield River watershed, the question of where animals are moving and whether they are negatively impacted by the current level of fragmentation is of particular interest.  The watershed is one of the least fragmented in Massachusetts, yet still is crisscrossed by roads ranging from small dirt roads such as sections of Kinne Brook Road, to paved and relatively high-volume roads such as Route 112 in Huntington and Worthington. 

With funding support from the Committee, The Nature Conservancy is conducting an on-the-ground effort to collect animal movement and roadkill data between the Middle and East Branch corridors.

"Nature Conservancy tracks wildlife movement in forested areas" -
Daily hampshire Gazette, Feb. 4, 2014 (PDF)