A state Forest Practices Act and Endangered Species Act combine to protect habitat of state-listed rare flora and fauna during timber harvesting in Massachusetts. In a three-year period, 10.5% of 2041 reviewed harvest operations co-occurred with rare species habitats. Over 60% of these co-occurrences were evaluated by biologists to have no impact on the species or its habitat. For 35% of co-occurrences, additional mitigating measures were recommended by biologists to be included in the harvest plan. The primary species that triggered rare species habitat review were reptiles and amphibians (e.g., Clemmys inscultpa, Ambystoma jeffersonianum), in spite of the fact that habitat of all rare flora and fauna were considered. The rate of co-occurrence is higher than previously documented when only rare wetland fauna were afforded regulatory protection. Recommended mitigating measures primarily focus on restricted timing of operations to frozen conditions and buffers along aquatic habitats. Based on the low rate of co-occurrence, the small portion of co-occurrences that are deemed to have possible impacts and the inexpensive nature of mitigating measures, it does not appear that this level of regulatory protection of rarity represents an obstacle to timber harvesting.
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