State Seeks Public Input on Management Plan for Birdseye and Blueberry Hill Wildlife Management Areas

15 September 2021

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), through the Departments of Fish and Wildlife and Forests, Parks and Recreation, is developing a new long-range management plan for the Castleton Management Unit, that is comprised of Birdseye and Blueberry Hill Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and is conducting public scoping, including a public meeting September 29, to better understand how Vermonters use and value these lands.

The long-range management plan serves as a guide for land management on ANR land, and typically lasts for 20 years. ANR conducts public scoping early in the planning process to develop a better understanding of the public’s interest in and use of state-owned lands.  The public is asked to share their input through an online survey available at https://vtfishandwildlife.com/CMU-planning.  The survey will be open until December 3, 2021.

“Soliciting input from the public is an important part of the management planning process, and it is a chance for us to hear from the public early in the process about how they use and what they value about these lands,” said Travis Hart, wildlife biologist for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department who is part of the multi-disciplinary team of ANR experts tasked with developing the plan.  “This input influences a first draft of the plan, which we later share with the public for comment before moving on to a final draft.”

Birdseye and Blueberry Hill WMAs are iconic in Vermont, forming a uniquely rugged set of mountains and valleys in a part of Vermont popular with outdoor enthusiasts.  In total, these WMAs span 4,285 acres of important wildlife habitat, including the geologically remarkable Birdseye WMA cliffs where peregrine falcons nest each spring.  These WMAs are popular destinations for deer, bear and upland bird hunters during the fall hunting seasons and turkey hunters in the spring.  Given the large size of these WMAs, people can also enjoy backcountry experiences with wildlife. 

Birdseye and Blueberry Hill WMAs are situated within the Taconic Mountain range and provide important unfragmented habitat for a wide range of wildlife in addition to being part of a larger wildlife corridor across Route 4 and north along the Taconic Mountains and ultimately connecting with the central Green Mountains.  These WMAs are critical parts of a larger ecological connection that enables wildlife to move throughout this region of Vermont.  They also support a wide range of important habitat conditions including headwater streams and wetlands, red oak, American beech, and other food producing trees, young forest that benefits chestnut-sided warblers, ruffed grouse, and many other species of wildlife, deer winter habitat, and more. 

“Conservation of these properties represents a great deal of hard work over many years by ANR, conservation partners like The Conservation Fund and Vermont Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs, and the surrounding communities.  These WMAs are special for many important reasons, not the least of which is their role in maintaining the larger connected landscape of this region of Vermont, allowing, black bear, bobcat, fisher and other wildlife to move freely and meet their needs to survive and thrive”, said Fish and Wildlife’s Director of Wildlife Mark Scott.  “Our staff take great pride in carefully stewarding this well-loved landscape on behalf of the people of Vermont.”

An in-person public scoping meeting to explain the proposed plan and receive public input will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Kehoe Conservation Camp in Castleton on Wednesday, September 29.  The same information to be presented at the meeting is on Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s website, www.vtfishandwildlife.com with a link to receive public comments by December 3, 2021.

Members of the public are encouraged to visit https://vtfishandwildlife.com/CMU-planning to learn about the Castleton Management Unit and to take the public scoping survey. Comments can also be emailed to ANR.CMUPublicComment@vermont.gov.

For Immediate Release:  September 15, 2021

Media Contacts:  Travis Hart 802-786-3816, John Austin 802-371-9895

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Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife
Commissioner Christopher Herrick

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The mission of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is the conservation of all species of fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the people of Vermont.