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Project teaches landowners about their property (Released: 1/3/97)

by Renu Sehgal, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- Connecticut has 1.8 million acres of forestland. The Cooperative Extension System is helping the 60,000 private owners of 90 percent of that land become aware of the treasure they hold through a voluntary networking project.

"When my husband, Doue, and I bought our 10 acres of forestland in Windham Center about nine years ago, we hoped the property would provide us with firewood for the wood stove and a place to take an occasional walk. Now it has become much more than that -- and a lot of the credit is due to our involvement with the Coverts Project," said Terry Lavoie of Windham.

The Coverts Project, co-sponsored by The Cooperative Extension System and the Ruffed Grouse Society, a non-profit conservation organization, offers training to landowners in sound wildlife management practices. Since the project's inception in 1984, 253 landowners have learned ways to make wildlife healthier, more diverse and more abundant.

"For over 300 years, Connecticut's forests have been cut down, abused or neglected, resulting in the loss of wildlife, genetic depletion, poor health and poor productivity of wildlife," said Steve Broderick, an extension forestry educator.

A covert is a thicket that provides sheltering cover for wildlife, making it an appropriate symbol for this program, he said. Coverts participants become part of an informed statewide network of people who work closely with natural resource professionals and share their knowledge for free with other landowners.

The participants attend a 3 1/2 day course at the Yale Forestry Camp in Norfolk, learning from instructors from UConn, the Ruffed Grouse Society and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

There are 144 active volunteers who own or manage more than 17,000 forested acres in the state. The Lavoies took the ideas and suggestions they received from the project and have reaped the benefits by seeing a greater variety of wildlife, including ruffed grouse, wild turkey, deer and more species of birds and owls, on their property. They are considering a small sugar maple operation in the future. In the meantime they are very happy with the changes they see.

"Two of our children are artists and have used the property as ideas for some of their artwork," Terry Lavoie said. "Our youngest son, Shawn, sometimes helps with getting firewood off the property and has become interested in prusuing a career in the environmental field."

Here are the participants trained in 1996:

Robert Eckenrode NEWTOWN (203) 270-9751
Art Howe BRANFORD (203) 488-6029
Charlie and Rhonda DeWeese COLLINSVILLE (860) 693-3988
Esther Danielson CANTON CENTER (860) 693-0017
Robin Ketchum NORFOLK (860) 542-6928
Ella Clark WEST CORNWALL (203) 672-4817
Maureen Murphy MIDDLETOWN (860) 344-0415
Patricia Sesto FAIRFIELD (203) 255-3159
Bill Parrilla FAIRFIELD (203) 259-5456
Ed Fidrych PORTLAND (860) 342-1123
Jonathan Hine OLD LYME (860) 434-2232
Mary Catherwood HADLYME (860) 434-8961
Jonathan Modica EAST HADDAM (860) 873-9003
Patrick Emlaw NEW MILFORD (860) 354-2269
Barbara Linder SHERMAN (860) 355-3187
John Baker LITCHFIELD (860) 567-8427
Betsy Corrigan WASHINGTON (860) 868-7830
Lance Rogers SHERMAN (860) 354-1052
David Carman Jr. NIANTIC (860) 691-2551
Susan McCusker SALEM (860) 859-2795
Susan Proctor WILTON (203) 834-1532
Adil Mulla REDDING (203) 938-3084
Robert Kuchta MADISON (203) 245-8032