Wood Lot Ecology

The Wood Lot many important ecology features.  The Southeastern Massachusetts Pine Barrens Alliance (SEMPBA), based in Plymouth, MA maintains an office on conservation land abutting the County Wood Lot.  SEMBPA’s website contains valuable information about the Pine Barrens ecology of Plymouth. http://www.pinebarrensalliance.org

The County Wood Lot is an important part of the Massachusetts Coastal Pine Barrens. It is contiguous to protected conservation land that has a high ecological value. Myles Standish State Forest (MSSF) is at the heart of this conservation land, creating a unique and significant landscape scale ecosystem. In addition to the MSSF, the contiguous protected lands include those owned by the Town of Plymouth (629 acres), Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge (12 acres), state DFW (9.6 acres) and Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Mass (47.7 acres). Map  The Russell Mill Pond Conservation Area adjoins the Eel River Preserve, which was created by a conservation partnership between the Town of Plymouth, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, the state and other groups. One of the goals of creating the Eel River Preserve was to create contiguous habitat for Pine Barrens species

The creation of the Russell Mill Conservation area and the Eel River Preserve over the past decade involved the expenditure of private and public funds totaling at least $ 4 million dollars

The map below was developed by organizations to prioritize land in Massachusetts.   MAPPR MapIt shows the County Wood Lot is labeled “3”which is the highest ranking for Priority Parcels under BioMap2 Critical Natural Landscape and Core Habitat Designation,” a state approved conservation plan. The purpose of BioMap2 Core Habitat is to identify habitat that will support the long term viability of species listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act and additional species identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan, exemplary natural communities, and intact ecosystems. BioMap2 Critical Natural Landscape was created to identify and prioritize intact landscapes in Massachusetts that are better able to support ecological processes and disturbance regimes, and a wide array of species and habitats over long time frames.

Critical Natural Landscape Map

The Wood Lot is identified on this Critical Natural Landscape map in red as “high priority” for conservation.

Among the species listed under MESA that use Pine Barrens for habitat are the Eastern Box Turtle, terrapene Carolina. The ‘state status’ of this turtle under MESA is classified as “Special Concern.” The state Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program identifies the turtle’s habitat as “more heavily concentrated in the southeastern part of the state.” The NHESP fact sheet describes the Life Cycle and Behavior of the Eastern Box Turtle. It says that females “may travel up to approximately 1600 m (1 mile), many of them crossing roads during their journey” to find appropriate nesting habitat. It describes how the turtles “over winter in upland forest, a few inches under the soil surface, typically covered by leaf litter or woody debris.” The NHESP Management Recommendations for the Eastern Box Turtle includes assessing habitat needs so that appropriate habitat areas can be protected.

In 2016, a turtle expert filed a NHESP Animal Observation Form documenting the Eastern Box Turtle on the County Wood Lot.

Crane_NHESP Report April 2017IMG_5133Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 4.37.15 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-12 at 4.38.43 PMThis map shows the SE Pine Barrens Alliance ecoregion

The rare, ancient Pine Barrens ecosystem on the County Wood Lot will be irreversibly destroyed by the Kingstown sand and gravel mining operation.