Managing restored habitat to ensure it remains beneficial to wildlife

Once wildlife habitat has been constructed, a great deal of effort must be expended to keep it functioning properly for the species of concern. Newly created wetlands can easily be colonized by phragmites or dense stands of cattails, while an unmanaged meadow can quickly turn to forest.

CWH staff regularly use a variety of techniques to keep meadows, wetlands, and scrub-shrub areas in an early successional state. These include spot spraying, discing, controlled burning, hand cutting, frilling, frost seeding, delayed drawdown, and carefully timed dormant-season mowing (December–March). During spring and summer, we take special precautions to protect nesting and brooding wildlife .

One commonly used technique is spot spraying the trees and shrubs out of meadows. Why don’t we mow them instead? Mowing can be highly injurious/deadly to ground-dwelling wildlife (brooding birds, too). Furthermore, mowing DOES NOT kill trees or shrubs. Late summer/fall is the best time to spot spray trees, and then a spot mowing in March of the following year (before wildlife get too active) cleans the meadow up of standing dead woody plants .

In wetlands, we spend much of our time killing phragmites and cattails. A good patchy mix of cattails and other wetland plants is ideal for food and cover, but we do not want phragmites or a monoculture of cattails.

Other habitat projects include installing wildlife nesting structures for Wood Ducks, Ospreys, Bluebirds, Purple Martins, and Owls. CWH also partnered with Delmarva Power for more than 15 years to conduct research on the unique habitat found within powerline rights-of-way (ROW).

CWH bases all of its work for wildlife on solid scientific research and nearly 40 years of experience in the field. A portion of each project manager’s time is spent doing research to ensure our land management techniques are of the highest quality.

Having a diversity of wildlife means creating and maintaining a diversity of habitat. A lot of summer and fall CWH field-staff time is spent managing and maintaining wildlife habitat on CWH and client properties. It is often hot work, but the positive results for the wildlife resource are well worth the effort.