Cumberland Times-News

Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors

August 11, 2012

Wildlife grasses spring forth after controlled burn in March

OLDTOWN — In March, Jim Mullan was one of the state employees who intentionally set fire to grasses on the Warrior Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

On Tuesday, almost five months after the rapid and intense blaze, Mullan, the western regional manager for the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service, stood in that same field and admired the results of the handiwork done by his agency and the Maryland Forest Service.

Specifically, Mullan was checking out the big bluestem grass that seeks to grow almost as high as an elephant’s eye during the spring and summer.

“There is also switchgrass and Indian grass that has come back in,” he said, fondling the flora a couple hundred yards off Oliver Beltz Road.

“This (10-acre) field is managed for wildlife habitat, specifically upland wildlife and the recreation that goes along with it,” Mullan said. “Good wildlife habitat consists of food, water and cover that are close together.”

The real benefactors of this hands-on wildlife management are ground nesting birds —  ranging in size from wild turkeys to sparrows — and mammals such as cottontail rabbits and voles.

“But deer use this habitat too,” Mullan said, “and it wouldn’t be unusual for a bear to be seen here.”

In 2011, as a part of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Forest Brigade Program, the Forest Service, assisted by state prison inmates, planted numerous trees that will eventually augment the cover and food within the field. For now, those young trees are protected in plastic tubes.

The trees include white pine, Virginia pine, Eastern red cedar, black cherry, black oak and chestnut oak.

The Warrior Mountain WMA encompasses 4,672 acres, 5 percent of which is in fields and grasses. It lies mostly between Oliver Beltz and Cresap Mill roads.

A variety of public access points are available for hunters and other users.

“We acquired this field 10 years ago. It was pasture then and you could look up at it from the road and see every nook and cranny in the land,” Mullan said. That’s no longer true, the grasses of varying height give wildlife plenty of cover to shield them from long-range viewing.

Controlled burns are to improve wildlife habitat, but Mullan said they have been shut down when nesting turkeys have been found in the area meant to go up in smoke.

This year’s burn, though, came off pretty much picture perfect. When the grasses thicken in two or three more years and lose their value for wildlife, the torch will be lit once more.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

 

1
Text Only
Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors
  • Sleep under the stars! Be a game warden!

    July 27, 2014

  • Mike Sawyers and his father, Frank Sale of quart-sized Mason jars lagging, merchants claim

    The opening day of Maryland’s squirrel hunting season is Sept. 6 and I am guessing you will be able to drive a lot of miles on the Green Ridge State Forest and see very few vehicles belonging to hunters of the bushytail. It wasn’t always that way. In the early 1960s, when I was a high school student in Cumberland, there was no Interstate 68. What existed was U.S. Route 40 and in the last couple of hours before daylight on the opening day of squirrel season there was an almost unbroken line of tail lights and brake lights between Cumberland and Polish Mountain.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Outdoor editor admits making straw purchases

    I’ll admit it. I’ve made straw purchases and I’ve made them knowingly.
    I can only hope that the individuals to whom I have passed on those purchases used them wisely.

    July 12, 2014

  • 11th Maryland bear hunt scheduled Oct. 20-23

    It is getting to be that time of year when those of us who would like to hunt bears in Maryland start thinking about applying for one of the limited number of permits.

    July 6, 2014

  • Wildlife official protests more Sunday hunts in far W. Md.

    Joseph Michael believes that the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service put its regulations cart ahead of its regulations horse, at least when it comes to allowing more hunting on Sundays in the state’s three westernmost counties.

    June 28, 2014

  • Bear country bowhunters can pack

    It has been four years in the legislative making, but people bowhunting for deer in Garrett, Allegany and part of Washington counties will be able to carry handguns to protect themselves from bears. Although bow season will begin Sept. 5, the law does not become effective until Oct. 1. The law applies to Deer Management Region A.

    June 1, 2014

  • No Bambi for you, Mrs. Doe

    Some people want so badly for deer birth control to work that they actually think it will, even on wild populations.
    I wish I had a couple bridges to sell.
    A week ago on the Outdoors page we ran the deer there do what deer  everywhere do. They eat the easiest food available such as gardens and ornamental plantings. They walk in front of moving cars. They give ticks and  parasites a place to live.

    April 19, 2014

  • Black bear biologist explains new hunt

    The Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service has abandoned the bear harvest quota system in use for 10 hunting seasons and has set the next two hunts at four days apiece.

    April 5, 2014

  • MIKE SAWYERS South Branch of Potomac River best place in W.Va. for trophy rainbows

    I always enjoy the annual roundup supplied by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources that reveals where all the trophy fish were caught.

    March 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • MIKE SAWYERS Mettiki will once again produce trout

    Brian Richardson is confident that the Maryland Fisheries Service will, little by little and year by year, get to the point where full production is restored to the state’s trout hatchery system, meaning that fish will no longer have to be purchased from private sources.

    March 22, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Facebook
Must Read
House Ads