Providing a habitat for New England cotton-tail rabbits is part of a multi-state effort locally affecting the Kent area.

Thirty-three acres in the Housatonic River valley wildlife management area near Macedonia State Park are being clear cut of mature aspen and mixed hardwood trees.

Some 13 acres to the north had already been cut and 20 acres abutting Kent Land Trust property were being cut last week.

"The New England cottontail is Connecticut's only true native species," said Dennis Schanie, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesman.

"They require a young forest habitat to survive," he explained. "Managing the land in this way to produce new forest growth helps with the restoration of 47 other species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals."

A total of 182 acres in eight locations are being cleared as part of this effort. Federal grant money in the amount of $223,000 is being utilized for the Connecticut portion of the project.

"We understand that some people may have concerns on seeing the acreage clear cut," Mr. Schaine said, "but it is part of an overall management strategy we believe is sound and scientifically valid."

Susan Tuz