Fire Management Plan for Montague Plain Wildlife Management Area (Clark and Patterson 2003)
Prepared for Massachusetts Dept. of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Environmental Law Enforcement Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program
Prepared by Kennedy H. Clark and William A. Patterson III -University of Massachusetts
Montague Plain Wildlife Management Area (MPWMA) is a 1,512 acre property in western Massachusetts owned and managed by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The primary purposes of the site are to protect and preserve an outstanding example of a xeric outwash pitch pine-scrub oak barren natural community and to provide public access for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and compatible recreational activities. This fire management plan (FMP) is a strategic plan that defines a program to manage wildland fire on MPWMA for ecological health and public safety. Fire management is needed at MPWMA to sustain and restore the health of the ecosystem and its component biota, and to protect on-site and off-site infrastructure and lives from wildfire.
MPWMA encompasses a glacial outwash sandplain with droughty soils supporting a pitch-pine - scrub oak community. The site also includes a hill with shallow, sandy loam soils that supports an oak dominated forest. One rare natural community and a number of rare plant, insect, and reptile species are known from the site. Pitch pine - scrub oak communities are the most fireprone vegetation types in New England, and significant evidence exists suggesting that fire was an important influencing factor on the vegetation of MPWMA for many years before European settlement. There are numerous fire and smoke sensitive areas surrounding the site including individual residences, businesses, highways, villages, and a small airport.