NORTHAMPTON – A patch of mowed meadow at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary of Mass Audubon near Oxbow Marina this week has had neighbors who have raised questions.
Nature conservation stretches from Easthampton to Northampton, protecting a variety of wild animals living in the vast grasslands over an expanse of 724 miles. So residents began to wonder why an area near Old Springfield Road had recently been mowed.
Although these residents refused to register, signs posted at the edge of the property stating “Nesting season Please stay on marked trails or mowed paths” left them searching for answers.
The clearance, approximately 300 meters by 25 meters, was made by members of the Oxbow Water Ski Show team ahead of a tournament this weekend. Jonah Keane, director of the sanctuary, said he was aware of the clearing of the prairie and explained that mowing tall grass has no negative impact on local wildlife.
“We really appreciate people’s concern and we appreciate the feedback. Our first priority is the wildlife that lives there and we are not going to make a decision that would negatively impact them, ”Keane said. “We are allowing this to be used for parking as it will not have a negative impact.”
Keane said he gave farmers in that area permission to begin mowing “just along the edge” of the prairies after July 15, as the breeding season is now over for American Kestrels, goblins and meadow sparrows that reside there.
At the end of August, most of the meadows are mowed to prevent the meadows from turning into forest. Keane said he spoke to a resident concerned about the cleared prairie and explained that the wildlife preserve wanted to be “good neighbors” to the water ski club.
“Parking cars on the meadows after the breeding season has no negative impact on the land for once,” Keane said. “We mow it anyway (in the fall) and that’s after the time it would be harmful to wildlife.”
Goglus, a small bird with white backs and black underparts, nest on the floor of hay fields and can be found chirping in the wildlife sanctuary. Likewise, American kestrels live in the tall grasses of the sanctuary but in small nesting boxes designed for them in the prairies.
Birds will linger in the area before migrating south, with bobolinks leaving around mid-August and American kestrels leaving in September, according to Keane.
Luis Fieldman can be contacted at [email protected]