Public Comment Record
E.A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area
15-Year Vision Plan
Comments submitted online will be posted here at the discretion of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources twice each week.
The Public Comment Period will end at close of business on August 10, 2012.
Thank you for your interest in the
E.A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area’s 15-Year Vision Plan
I am generally in agreement with the goals and objectives of the Master Plan. I feel that Bobwhite need special protection due to their very small populations. I would also like to see some access for non-hunters during fall and spring hunting season, since many migratory birds are only available at that time. - J. C.
I am writing to provide comments on the EA Vaughn WMA 15-Year Vision Plan. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has done a great job managing the EA Vaughn WMA to date and I support its continued management to both provide hunting opportunities as well as birdwatching, photography, hiking, kayaking and other outdoor activities. Providing continued access to all types of outdoor enthusiasts is a critical component of the Wildlife Management Area system and a key to its great success. EA Vaughn WMA is especially popular with birdwatchers from across the state due to the great mix of tidal wetlands, fields, and forests. At least 233 bird species have been recorded here in recent times, including some that are quite rare in the state and region (www.ebird.org). The habitat provided for waterfowl, including shorebirds, as well as for wintering sparrows and other songbirds, particularly in migration, is fantastic. Easily accessible habitats for shorebirds and marsh species like those found at EA Vaughn are in short supply in Maryland, even at other sites in coastal Worcester such as Assateague Island.
I appreciate this opportunity to comment and I had a few specific comments regarding the proposed 15-Year Vision Plan. Regarding Capital Improvements (section II), I question the utility of using the funds to remove the two old buildings. I do not oppose it but wonder if the funds are better spent? I fully support looking into alternatives to daylighting for maintaining a clear road while at the same time producing an improved habitat condition that comes with a closed canopy. A closed canopy would also reduce the number of invasive species, commonly found along roadsides and forest edge and may promote forest interior dwelling species.
I fully support all of the long-term goals stated in section V of the plan. I also strongly support the continued acquisition of adjacent parcels as they become available. I am happy to see the continued maintenance of all of the current habitat types, especially with regard to persistence and hopeful expansion of Northern Bobwhite populations. I strongly support and encourage the philosophy of the Department to use commercial crops to “complement, not hinder, efforts to maintain early successional wildlife habitat.” Although I generally support the objective in the old loblolly plantations, I strongly question the use of “using brush and tree cutter heads on skid-steers or bulldozers . . . to remove undesirable tree species.” I feel this is too obtrusive of an approach and will only lead to more problems with invasive species, many of which thrive in disturbed environments. Focusing on a regime of selective cutting and burning (when and where appropriate) to create mixed age-class forests with as little physical or mechanical disturbance as possible would be preferred. I also question if a 10 acre fragment of older pines is adequate for Delmarva Fox Squirrel, although I recognize there is additional habitat here for this species.
With regard to the tidal habitats, I strongly support the Department’s current management strategy; however I am concerned about the effects of chemical herbicides on non-target species (i.e., on desirable plant species). A regime that causes the least possible disturbance may be just as effective, if not more so, since Phragmites has obviously not been eradicated under the current control strategy. I strongly encourage the restoration of hydrology throughout the area wherever practical and have high praise for the current management with regard to waterfowl, particularly waders and shorebirds in terms of manipulated hydrology. I do wonder, however, how different species would be attracted to managed pools vs. pools where hydrology was restored? Perhaps impoundments could be managed less intensively without a coincident decline in waterfowl abundance or diversity? I fully support the Department’s objective to “provide habitat as similar to natural wetlands as possible” including the consideration of restoring natural fish passage and the protection of vernal pools with adequate buffers. In fact, all wetlands and waterways should have 100 – 300 ft (or greater) buffer whenever possible.
I also strongly support the Department’s objective to limit fragmentation to the extent possible and perhaps future acquisitions may facilitate this along with other 15-year plan goals. Thank you for the opportunity to comment. - F. M.
Species like bobwhite, woodcock and snipe aren't exactly abundant. I've been birdwatching in Maryland for a couple years now and have yet to see any. Shouldn't a WMA help protect these species, instead of helping hunters to kill them? - F. M.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the vision plan for E.A. Vaughn WMA. I urge you to give greater emphasis to wildlife-watching activities. The area is near Pocomoke River State Forest, Milburn Landing State Park, and Chincoteague Island, all of which are popular with visitors interested in seeing birds and mammals in their natural habitat. Trails for bird watching should be clearly marked and publicized through informational brochures, as is done in many Maryland state parks. This could lead to greater public use of E.A. Vaughn WMA during seasons when hunting is not allowed. It would also create a wider base of public support for the WMA in the years ahead.
Offroad vehicles should continue to be prohibited. The Offroad Vehicle Report completed by DNR in 2011 showed the types of impact against wildlife habitat caused by ORVs on Maryland state lands.
In Management Unit #3, I favor the emphasis on restoring the natural function of tidal marshes. The goal should be to achieve a fully functioning natural ecosystem, rather than any specific target species.
Thank you for considering my views. - G. A.
I fully support the EA Vaughn wildlife management area's 15-yr vision plan. These areas are favorite birding places and often host bird species that are uncommon in Maryland (e.g., wintering Harris' sparrows). The vision plan contains a broad sweep of considerations and actions designed to maintain and enhance habitat and species diversity. Bravo and well done! - M. H., Carroll Co Bird Club and MD Ornithological Society
Thank for the opportunity to comment on the 15-year Vision Plan for EA Vaughn.
We support the 15-year plan as one designed to preserve and enhance a wide variety of habitats , which will benefit the bird populations that draw us to visit EA Vaughn. EA Vaughn currently hosts an excellent variety of species, as is evidenced by the 233 species already documented in eBird, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s on-line database of bird distribution and abundance. Our members visit Vaughn often to view the numerous and occasional rare species. The 15-year plan will continue to enhance that habitat.
We ask that all the currently permitted public uses continue to be given consideration and that closures of areas for particular use, e.g. hunting, be used judiciously and sparingly. Hunting is the primary use for the management area, and we certainly do understand this use. However, we would hope that the rest of the public will also be granted sufficient opportunities for other uses such as observing and enjoying wildlife.
We would oppose the establishment of an off-road vehicle (ORV) trail, as it would cause increased erosion, noise, and air pollution; fragment habitat; and disrupt wildlife and the activities of others who use the area. As the plan states, only wildlife dependent recreation will be promoted or allowed. ORV usage is by no means wildlife dependent, in fact it would repel wildlife and damage habitat.
We are a volunteer organization based in Maryland of about 1500 members, dedicated to the study and conservation of birds. - K. S., Maryland Ornithological Society
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft management plan for EA Vaughn. As a birder and a biologist, I am impressed that the plan is designed to maximize biodiversity on this valuable tract. In terms of recreation, I encourage DNR to maintain its stance on wildlife-related recreation. - M. W., Maryland Ornithological Society
In general, I'm in agreement with the management plan. However, Northern Bobwhite should not be included in any hunting plan anywhere in the state of Maryland. Their populations have declined precipitously to the point where they may not be sustainable. - T. B.
I've been waterfowl hunting Vaughn since the mid seventies. Of course some years are better than others, but not including last year, the last few years has had a nice variety of birds. On most days at least 5 to 6 boats go out of the ramp and I have never had a problem of people hunting right on top of me. The other hunters I have talked to at the ramp seem to be pretty serious hunters. All and all I think Vaughn is a nice place to hunt. - C. E.
I would like to applaud the inclusion of management for upland/grassland species like quail and rabbits. Habitat work for these species should pay off well in an area like this! - T. L.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to response. I fully support and encourage the continued support and sustenance of the current EA Vaughn property. As a valued consumer of the public resources, I encourage elected and nonelected personnel responsible for the consideration of continued operations of the property to continue to appreciate the public's interest in the lovely property. I support public officials continued support of the asset and am willing to personally financially support continued operations. Thank you for your consideration and willingness to field public opinion. - B. T.
The State needs to re-establish an Off Road Vehicle Trail. Since the closing of the Pocomoke ORV trail; There are no public places nearby for the many ORV riders to use. - M. O., Hopewell Fish & Game
Better regulation of the use of the impoundments. Maybe having the area near the old refuge closed to anyone except waterfowl hunters from Oct1- the end of duck season. Maybe cut back to three days a week on this impoundment and closing it at 1 PM. There is plenty of area for upland/ dove hunting, and that area is sort of isolated, so why not take advantage of the work done to put the impoundment in by giving some ducks a chance to get in there. I realize that you could not do this for the whole area or for the middle section impoundment because that is a very popular deer hunting area, but people walking around the old refuge and dove hunters conflicting with waterfowl hunters make it almost unhuntable, and the only ducks that use the place come in there after dark. Also, if there is any funding, planting wild rice or millets in these impoundments. Also, working on keeping the water control device on the impoundment at Portersville road. It has not held water in three years now. Vaughn is a great place and you guys have done a great job with it. Signs would be all that is needed to keep people out, in theory. - S. B.
Russ, Please consider adding a bio for Ernie Vaughn on the webpage for the WMA. If you need some help with info, let me know. I wonder how many folks know who he was! - G. B., DNR Committee for Maryland Conservation History
The northern tract that has direct road access to Rt 12 south of Girdletree I have hunted on since 1987. Where the ""pond"" is 20 years ago was field and the wooded area against the pond up to the dirt road was thick, low, brush full of rabbits, quail. There are no quail period. Few rabbits. The brush needs some cutting to permit new growth. There are lots of old dead briars. Dead briars are good cover but there's no food value. The trees south up to the road and leading eastward of the pond need to be thinned/brush piled or killed and left standing to allow more light to promote some new growth of green briars and honeysuckle. Also on the west side of the path leading to the pond could really use some thinning and a bush hogged trail leading all the way around. DON'T dig anymore ponds on any of the property please. Chincoteague bay and the surrounding creeks and marsh are enough water for the wetlands species. At one time the field along the dirt road leading out to the marsh had some tangle foot and you could find rabbits/quail out there. Now it's a desolate killing field for deer only. The woods in that area around the small pond all the way out on the south east end before you hit marsh could stand for a controlled burn. The south tract in Stockton along the road leading to the boat landing needs some more or bigger signs. I've been leery of going there because I'm not sure where it starts and ends. The northern most tract in Girdletree needs some gates to slow vehicle traffic. Walk out to the big pond and you see tire tracks. I've seen lazy duck hunters drive out to drop off their gear. I'm fat, 50 and arthritic. I walk it to duck hunt and run beagles. These are young guys just being cute. I haven't seen any and that don't mean there aren't some handicapped people but all I've seen are groups of young guys. Thanks for your time and the ability to make some suggestions. - W. C.
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