April 21, 2020

The City Nature Challenge, Together-but-Separately

We here at MassWildlife hope that you and your families and friends are safe and well during the COVID-19 public health emergency. We’ve found that a responsible hike in nature is great for both physical and mental health. We suspect that’s also true for anyone who uses iNaturalist and welcome you to participate in the City Nature Challenge (April 24-27th) at a nearby Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

This year, the City Nature Challenge is focused simply on looking at nature, wherever you’re able to be. MassWildlife had hoped to be leading public walks for the Boston and Pioneer Valley Challenges, but we have cancelled those events for the safety of the public and our staff. However, a number of MassWildlife staff will be going out to iNaturalize sometime during the Challenge period and we hope you will, too.

All of MassWildlife’s (WMAs) remain open to the public. Please remember to keep a distance of 6 feet or more between you and other visitors. MassWildlife encourages the public to visit lesser-known spots and explore the outdoors close to home. If crowded, choose a different location or time to visit. Please click here for the latest guidance and recommendations regarding COVID-19.

We hope you visit one or more of the WMAs during the City Nature Challenge, particularly the WMAs we support as projects in iNaturalist. For the Boston City Nature Challenge area, those iNaturalist project WMAs are:
Martin Burns WMA
J.C. Phillips Sanctuary
Wayne MacCallum WMA
Part of Bolton Flats WMA
Burrage Pond WMA
Southeast Bioreserve
Frances Crane WMA

For the Pioneer Valley City Nature Challenge, the iNaturalist project WMAs are:
Montague Plains WMA
Herman Covey WMA
Poland Brook WMA

For maps of these areas – or any of our WMAs across the state – you can visit our on-line Lands Viewer. These maps also show the official parking areas, where those are available. As always these days, if a parking area or a trail or lakeshore is crowded with people, go somewhere else to hike and explore.

Any observation you upload to iNaturalist from these WMAs during the Challenge period will automatically be collected in both the appropriate Challenge project and in the appropriate WMA project. All you have to do is get out and enjoy the natural world. We hope you do get out, and we hope you find a bit of beauty and peace in nature. ​

Posted on April 21, 2020 06:09 PM by masswildlife masswildlife | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 05, 2020

We’re Looking Forward to 2020!

Two very exciting items are coming up for MassWildlife in 2020: first, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, and second, we are inviting everyone in the MassWildlife community to join us on iNaturalist!

30 Years of MESA
The year 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). Through the implementation of MESA, MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) conserves and protects the most vulnerable native animal and plant species of Massachusetts and the habitats upon which they depend. Currently, there are more than 430 native plants, vertebrates, and invertebrates that are officially listed as Endangered, Threatened, or of Special Concern.
Many rare species have benefited from the protection afforded under MESA and the work of NHESP over the years, including the restoration and conservation of several notable species such as the peregrine falcon, bald eagle, and northern red-bellied cooter. However, there is still a lot to do and in the face of habitat loss, emerging diseases, invasive species, climate change, and other threats, this work is more important than ever!

NHESP staff are diligently working to recover rare species and their habitats. NHESP’s conservation efforts include targeted restoration and active management of habitats; collection, management, and analysis of statewide biological data; conducting regulatory reviews; and the development of educational programming, publications, and conservation tools to connect residents with nature and help guide state and partner conservation priorities.

The vast majority of NHESP’s work is funded through grants, regulatory review fees, and donations from supportive citizens. Donations to NHESP are received through a voluntary check-off on the state income tax form and direct donations throughout the year. NHESP donations go directly into the Endangered Wildlife Conservation Fund, which can only be used for administering NHESP programs. These donations are critical to ensure the dedicated NHESP staff can continue to perform important conservation work, including field research and surveys, regulatory review, habitat management, land protection, and education. Without such support, NHESP cannot to protect, manage, and restore the Commonwealth’s most imperiled animals and plants and the sensitive communities and habitats on which they depend. In addition to donations, citizens can help by reporting the location of a rare species or vernal pool to help NHESP keep its database current.

Join the celebration! Go to Mass.gov/30MESA throughout the year to learn about MESA and how you can support NHESP.

MassWildlife iNaturalist Launch
In 2020, we’re going to invite the residents of Massachusetts to join us on iNaturalist and learn how to use this wonderful website, app, and database to explore our properties and learn more about the plants and animals of the Commonwealth.

We’ll be publishing an article about iNaturalist in the April issue of our magazine, Massachusetts Wildlife, which reaches approximately 20,000 subscribers. In addition, over 67,000 people get our monthly email newsletter and over 55,000 people follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and we’ll be inviting all of them to join us on iNaturalist, too. We’re participating in the Boston City Nature Challenge in late April by leading walks on a few of our properties, and we’ll be leading iNaturalist walks on other Wildlife Management Areas over the course of the spring, summer, and fall. Check our calendar regularly at Mass.gov/30MESA as we schedule iNaturalist walks and other events.

We’re hoping that many of our subscribers and followers start using iNaturalist to get outside and learn about the natural world, especially on our Wildlife Management Areas and Wildlife Conservation Easements. All this kicks into high gear in April, right when we are all sick of winter and really want spring to come!

Till then, we hope you’re getting outside even in the cold and snow this time of year, finding the tracks of wild turkeys and squirrels, admiring the red berries on winterberry shrubs, and listening to mating calls of owls on quiet nights.

Posted on February 05, 2020 03:31 PM by masswildlife masswildlife | 0 comments | Leave a comment


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