Electronic Field Guide » Restoring/Creating Wildlife Habitat

Prepared by Margaret C. Brittingham, Ecosystem Science and Management

Many landowners are interested in managing, reclaiming, and restoring sites specifically for wildlife.  In some cases, the property is a hunting club and members are interested in protecting or possibly enhancing wildlife habitat by providing types of habitat such as herbaceous openings that were previously absent from a site.  In other cases, a landowner may be interested in restoring the land so that it supports the abundance and diversity of wildlife that were present prior to when the pad and infrastructure went in.  A third goal might be to target restoration specifically towards species that are of conservation concern because they are rare in the area or have declined in abundance. 

Currently the most common wildlife restoration practice is the creation of herbaceous openings for game species such as turkey or deer.  The field guide section on planting herbaceous openings, and the featured species sections on deer and turkey, give details on what a landowner might plant.  Establishing shrubs and trees takes more effort but can be important for providing additional sources of cover and soft and hard mast (fruits and nuts),  and for reducing overall fragmentation effects.  Field guide sections on establishing shrubs and trees and featured species sections on grouse and forest songbirds address these practices in more detail.  No matter what your goals are, it is important to minimize the time that the pad is left unrestored because well pads are essentially “nonhabitat” for most wildlife species until they are restored.

As landscapes change with Marcellus shale development, some species of wildlife will thrive and others are likely to face new challenges. The pages in this section provide an overview of some of these issues, and attempt to help landowners choose how their properties can be managed to promote wildlife habitat.

Following these recommendations will benefit multiple wildlife species.  For example, brooding habitat created for ruffed grouse may also be used by wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and several different species of songbirds.  Planting mast-producing trees and shrubs will benefit white-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, and several different species of songbirds and small mammals.  Planting conifers provides food and cover for pine siskins (Carduelis pinus) and golden-crowned kinglets (Regulus satrapa) and cover for many species, including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, Appalachian cottontails (Sylvilagus obscurus) and prairie warblers (Dendroica discolor).  Planting aspen provides food for white-tailed deer, eastern cottontails, snowshoe hares, beavers, ruffed grouse, and many other species of wildlife.