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America's Colonial Forests

The north woods of Maine to the mountains of West Virginia.

An Overview

States in NWTF’s Colonial Forests region include: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

From the bogs and backwaters of Maine to the mountains of West Virginia, early settlers battled nature and the elements to establish a new life in a new land. Today, we must fight to keep that land working for wildlife and the people who call it home. We can’t go back in time, but we can do our part to reclaim what must have made those first steps in America so beautiful.

Young forests, grasslands and overall early successional habitat provide essential nesting cover and are critical to wild turkey survival. However, this once naturally occurring habitat type is becoming increasingly rare in NWTF’s Colonial Forests. For instance, in southern New England, young forest and shrubland habitat once comprised up to 36% of forestlands, but over the past 50-70 years, as reverted farmland grew into mature forest and active timber management declined, only 5% of those forests are currently comprised of young forest habitat. Lack of timber harvests, inadequate markets and the reduced application of prescribed fire have made our northern forests over-mature and less productive for wildlife. This lack of habitat diversity creates brutal winters for wild turkeys in recent years.

two bow hunters at the base of a tree

Luckily, NWTF volunteers, wildlife biologists, foresters and partners have joined forces to actively manage forests for the betterment of wild turkeys and other wildlife. Active timber management and the use of prescribed fire will keep our Colonial Forests healthy and diverse.

The NWTF is collaborating with an array of partners on a variety of projects that will ensure the wild places in NWTF’s Colonial Forests stay wild and continue to provide great habitat, on both a regional and landscape scale.


Appalachian mountains in the fall

In addition to funding from a national level, regional projects include the work NWTF state chapters fund through the NWTF Super Fund. Super Fund dollars are raised by NWTF local chapters to benefit projects in their respective states. Projects like this include creating wildlife openings on WMAs, improving access areas or creating early successional habitat in national forests, among a myriad of others.

The NWTF has created a handful of landscape-level initiatives across the country, too, that address specific issues of concern and incorporate an array of traditional and nontraditional partners, agencies and interested parties. These groups combine resources, funding and expertise that ultimately benefits the wildlife, forests, private lands and wetlands on an entire landscape.

NWTF’s Colonial Forests is involved in multiple landscape-scale initiatives, including the National Forestry Initiative and White Oak Initiative.

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