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The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has announced brush cutting, mowing, and removing invasive plants at management areas and state lands across Rhode Island now through March.
According to a press release from DEM, biologists from DEM’s Division of Fish & Wildlife are directing the work as part of the DEM’s ongoing efforts to maintain and enhance wildlife habitats at upland sites including grasslands, shrublands, and old fields. DEM conducts habitat management work every winter to control invasive species and other woody plants. If left untouched, these species would overtake the native areas and eventually turn them into forested habitat. Habitat management helps maintain a diversity of habitats in a predominantly forested landscape. This helps sustain populations of plants and wildlife.
At Beavertail State Park, a two-acre field in the northern, undeveloped section of the park that has become overgrown with woody, invasive shrubs will be mowed next month. This area has typically been mowed every other year. Grassland habitats support American woodcock, Eastern box turtle, Monarch butterfly, and many birds including the Northern harrier, as well as rare plants and invertebrates such as Sandplain gerardia and Tiger beetles. A walking path is located around the perimeter of the field.
Habitat management activities also are being conducted this winter at several other management areas including Buck Hill, Carolina, and Great Swamp to maintain open upland sites as largely herbaceous fields. Mechanical treatment by brush mowing is the primary method employed, although single-tree and single-shrub selection using hand tools is sometimes employed to limit woody encroachment along field edges. Brush mowing and cutting occurs during the winter months when disturbance to wildlife and soil resources is minimal. DEM’s habitat restoration team mows about 200 acres annually. Equipment used to carry out the restoration work includes skid steer machines with mowing implements, four-wheel drive tractors with side-mounted attachments, and conventional tractor-mounted brush mowers.
For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit http://www.dem.ri.gov/.