Windsor Grasslands Wildlife Management Area
Windsor Grasslands Wildlife Management Area is the newest addition to Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s extensive system of public lands conserved and managed for wildlife habitat and wildlife-based recreational uses including hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife watching. The WMA consists of 826 acres of woodlands, open fields, wetlands, and old orchards. Formerly it was part of the Southeast State Correctional Facility (long known as the Windsor Prison Farm). When the State announced plans to liquidate much of the prison property that were identified not essential to the correctional facility’s mission, various interest groups stepped up to express their vision for future uses: residential and commercial development, agriculture, wildlife habitat, recreation, etc. Ascutney Mountain Audubon Society took a prominent role in the ensuing discussions with the State, town officials and legislative representatives and sought the establishment of a WMA, where habitats will be managed for grassland birds (e.g. Bobolink, Savannah Sparrow) and “old field” species (e.g. Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, Blue-winged and Prairie warblers). In 2018, Windsor Grasslands WMA was officially established. AMAS continues involvement with the WMA by maintaining bluebird and kestrel nest boxes and lending support to the State in its efforts to manage habitat for birds.
The WMA is one of Windsor County’s premier bird watching destinations. Bird watching is at its best during spring and fall migrations and nesting seasons, although other times of the year can be rewarding. The wetland and adjacent fields near the intersection of Marton and State Farm roads hosts a nesting pair of Northern Harriers, one of a very few nesting sites for this species known to occur in eastern Vermont, as well as nesting American Kestrels. Northern Shrike and waxwings (Cedar and Bohemian) frequent this area during winter. Look for nesting Blue-winged Warblers and possible rarer Golden-winged Warblers in old apple orchards and early successional woodlands. Courtship flights of Wilson’s Snipe and American Woodcock may be seen and heard spring through early summer. To date, over 130 bird species have been observed at Windsor Grasslands WMA.
Directions from downtown Windsor: At the Main Street (US Route 5) and State Street traffic light go west on State Street to the intersection with County Road. Here, continue straight onto Hunt Road and drive 2.2 miles to intersection with Marton Road. Turn right onto Marton Road and drive 1.2 miles to the hilltop overlooking large open fields to the east. Limited parking is located at red pump house near the intersection of Marton Road and State Farm Road.
The Fish & Wildlife Department currently owns more than 90 Wildlife Management Areas totaling more than 140,000 acres throughout Vermont. For more information see STATE LANDS AND STATE-MANAGED LANDS at https://vtfishandwildlife.com/conserve/lands-and-habitats/state-lands-and-state-managed-lands.