Created by nature’s most destructive forces, young forests teem with life. These ecosystems are home to hundreds of wildlife species, and are among the most diverse forests in the northeastern United States. However, human activity has led to a landscape where young forests are increasingly rare. Today, while our forests are aging, our young forests are disappearing. The losses of our diverse young forests and their abundant resources have contributed to the decline of many of the Northeast’s iconic species, such as New England cottontail. As part of a larger effort to restore habitat for young wildlife, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has recently acquired Doodletown Wildlife Management Area, where they hope to create young forest within areas of the property, in part to create habitat for the New England cottontail. To inform local stakeholders and alleviate public concerns that have arisen over the initiative, the NYSDEC held a public town hall and invited experts to discuss the benefits of young forest to and forest management toward sequestrating carbon, improving bird populations, and recovering the New England cottontail. Dr. Amanda Cheeseman represented the ongoing work on New England cottontail and young forest management in the Cohen Lab, discussing the current state of New England cottontails in New York and the need for young forest to ensure the persistence of the species. In the end, while a few concerned citizens remain the public response for management of young forest was overwhelmingly positive. The workshop was featured on the front page of The Columbia Paper's online edition.
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