Volunteers are needed in Scarborough to assist with creating a “rabitat” for the New England cottontail, a native Maine rabbit that is endangered in the state. The event will take place on Sept. 25 in two time slots, 9 a.m. to noon, or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Courtesy photo Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

SCARBOROUGH — To celebrate National Public Lands Day on Sept. 25, the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge will host a volunteer event, restoring a native shrubland habitat.

Between 9 a.m. and noon or 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., volunteers are asked to assist the refuge in planting shrubs for a habitat that is home to species including the New England cottontail, a native Maine rabbit that is endangered in the state, said a release from the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

“This year, more than ever, Rachel Carson NWR needs your help to keep up the progress it, with the help of past volunteers, has made in saving the wildlife that helps make southern Maine so special,” the release said.

A New England Cottontail. Courtesy photo Matt Poole

Due to habitat loss and fragmentation, the New England cottontail’s numbers have dropped over the past 50 years, now estimated at 300 individuals, the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge said. The animal relies on a dense thicket habitat to survive.

“Healthy thicket habitat is steadily disappearing and being degraded in Maine for several reasons, including: development, fragmentation, forest maturation, and the spread of invasive plants,” said the release. “As shrublands disappear, so do the animal species that depend on them; and the New England cottontail is not the only critter in danger of disappearing. Animals also relying on shrubland habitat include: the eastern towhee, American woodcock, prairie warbler, willow flycatcher, and the elusive black racer snake; all of which have dwindling populations.”

Registration is required for the event. To find out details and sign up, email [email protected].

“The day will include celebrating the NPLD national effort of ‘finding more ways to connect to nature,’ by digging, planting, learning, brief trail walking, donuts, coffee, and lots of fun,” the release said.

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