• Start-up
  • Planning
  • Action
  • Evaluation

The Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary has implemented several climate-informed actions and serves as a demonstration site for other landowners in the area. 

The Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary is a privately-owned wildlife refuge with over 8,000 acres of upland forest and aquatic habitats located on the border of south central Massachusetts and northeastern Connecticut. The Sanctuary is implementing actions to maintain forest habitats under a changing climate and sharing those experiences with other landowners through the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership.

Project Area

The Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary is a privately-owned wildlife refuge with over 8,000 acres of upland forest and aquatic habitats located on the border of south central Massachusetts and northeastern Connecticut. The Sanctuary is implementing actions to maintain forest habitats under a changing climate and sharing those experiences with other landowners and municipalities through the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership.

Management Goals

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The Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary uses sustainable forest management principles to proactively influence wildlife habitat on portions of the 8,300 acres of land. The purpose of all management is to ensure that the sanctuary provides the widest possible range of habitats to satisfy the needs of a remarkably diverse community of plants and animals. All of the prescribed management treatments are intended to help achieve the following goals:

  • Preserve interior forest habitat values
  • Perpetuate a vigorous, structurally complex, species-rich forest
  • Account for anticipated climate change impacts and implement practical adaptation strategies
  • Establish wildland reserves where old growth forest attributes will develop naturally
  • Minimize the impact of management on waterfowl and obligate vernal pool species

Climate Change Impacts

At the Sanctuary, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Climate models suggest that temperatures will increase 3 to 10°F by the end of the century in the region, which will also lengthen the growing season.
Precipitation patterns will continue to change, with less winter snow, more extreme events, and the potential for drier conditions later in the growing season.
Many northern tree species will face increasing stress from climate change, while those that have more southerly distributions and can tolerate hotter and drier conditions may be favored. The dominance of maple species has increased over the past centur
Climate change is likely to increase threats from many forest stressors, including insect pests, forest diseases, invasive plant species, and deer.
At the same time, while dramatic changes are expected for Northeastern forests as a result of climate change, the Emerald Forest region has been assessed to have high levels of resilience, connectivity, and species flow, and may be better able to adapt

Adaptation Actions

The Sanctuary, working with the American Forest Foundation and New England Forestry Foundation, received a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Climate Adaptation Fund to improve the ability of the Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary and broader MassConn region to cope with changing conditions. The idea is to use the Sanctuary as a demonstration site for surrounding landowners to learn and subsequently implement these adaptation practices on their properties, too. The Adaptation Workbook was used to identify restoration and adaptation activities for implementation across several sites (see table below). Outreach materials for foresters, land trusts, and woodland owners have also been developed in addition to the implementation of on-the-ground actions at the Sanctuary.

Area/Topic
Approach
Tatics
Upland hardwood forest (multiple stands)
Forest thinning to remove unhealthy and diseased trees, release existing hardwood saplings, and favor species that are expected to fare better under future conditions.
Retain some hemlock and ash trees to provide future snags and large woody debris
Retain all former pasture trees and large den trees.
Infrastructure at road-stream crossings
Replace undersized culverts with more appropriately-sized culverts, arches, or bridges to accommodate larger flows, reconnect cold-water habitat, and improve aquatic organism passage

Next Steps

The Sanctuary, working with the American Forest Foundation and New England Forestry Foundation, has been funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society's Climate Adaptation Fund to support the project implementation and outreach in 2016 and 2017.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact
Maria
.

Keywords

Flooding
Forest threats
Wildlife habitat

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