CED’s Draft 10-Year Management Plan for Tug Hill East Forests Open for Public Comment | Best Stories
LOWVILLE – The State Department of Environmental Conservation has drafted a new management plan for an area that includes seven state forests, 13 isolated forest plots and a “single area” on the Tug Hill Plateau in the counties of Lewis, Oswego and Oneida and wants to know what the public thinks about it.
The management plan provides an overview of the condition of the 22,886-acre Tug Hill East unit, focusing primarily on timber harvesting and management, but also on wetland protection, protection or eradication of animal and plant species and recreational opportunities.
In this draft plan, more than in previous plans for other management areas, attention is paid to the impacts of climate change – current and anticipated – and the measures that will be taken to minimize the impacts in the future.
The impacts of climate change on forestry, habitat, flora and fauna will be closely monitored. Protecting wetlands, water sources and soils will be critical to mitigate these impacts.
The wealth of tree population, health and age of the region does not only bring financial benefit to the state. Trees are designed to sequester or sequester carbon that worsens climate change, removing it from the air. Although older trees sequester more carbon, younger trees do so more quickly.
The DEC document indicates that climate change has already had a negative impact on timber harvesting in the management area, as warmer winter temperatures and intermittent rains associated with freeze-thaw have altered the patterns of soil freezing, and therefore, where and when it is possible to harvest. wood in winter.
A need for larger culverts is also anticipated in the Tug Hill East area due to the increasing number of intense rainstorms throughout the year.
Over the 10-year life of the Interim Plan, approximately 5,250 acres of timber will be harvested: 650 acres annually for the first five years and 500 acres for each of the last five years.
While the ability to generate income through timber harvesting is one of the main reasons the state has so much forested land, the importance of also fostering species diversity and focusing on the health of the forests and natural regeneration is also emphasized.
State forests are certified as sustainably managed by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
Fish and wildlife
The Bay-breasted Warbler is a species at risk of particular concern in the region because its habitat – the northern spruce and fir forest – may be in decline due to unsustainable timber harvesting, climate change and forest loss. fragmentation of the bird’s habitat.
Wildlife habitat, particularly softwood cover such as spruce and fir, is highlighted in the plan as needing improvement for deer and hares during Tug Hill’s notoriously harsh winter months.
The plan says it will be protected from timber harvesting, adding that deer farms “benefit from small clearcuts to improve regeneration.” The need for clearcuts in deer pens will be âassessedâ.
While black bears have a low population density in Tug Hill East – which could, according to the draft plan, support a small increase in numbers – hunting will continue to be permitted.
A statewide bird and bat migration study is included in the plan as “unit relevant,” necessary “to help plan wind power developments”, although no new wind project has not been proposed for Tug Hill yet.
The management of aquatic life over the next 10 years will include biological and chemical studies of waters throughout the area, which will result in cooperation between the Bureau of Fisheries, conservation groups and sportsmen to carry out restoration projects ” as far as possible â.
In general, streams will continue to be stocked with fish at current levels.
Soil and water
The Eastern Branch of Fish Creek State Forest will become a âHigh Conservation Value Forestâ through the implementation of the Draft Plan to Ensure Watershed Integrity.
The draft plan states that all activities provided for in the plan, including timber harvesting and recreation, will be carried out in a manner that protects the watershed, wetlands and watercourses, whether permanent or intermittent.
Confirmed invasive species in the region are all plants, including purple loosestrife, giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed, garlic mustard, common buckthorn, buckthorn, and common reed, but monitoring invasive species will continue throughout the implementation of the plan.
Part of the Tug Hill East unit is a continuous central forest that is home to part of the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust’s Traverse Trail hiking trail. In the first year of the plan, the southern start point of the Traverse Trail is expected to be established.
A number of campsites, several of which are intended to be drive-through campsites, and trail improvements are also part of the plan in various regions.
Cross-country ski and snowmobile trails on wetlands that normally remain frozen over most of the winter increasingly need small bridges or stretches of corduroy wood roads to protect the soil and the ground. circulation water.
DEC will also work with local first responders and DEC rangers to decide whether a strategically placed helipad would be beneficial for emergency response in the region.
The draft management plan document contains a rich cultural and natural history of the area, lists of flora and fauna species and detailed descriptions of each aspect of the land in the management area and how the assets will be managed over the next 10 years.
All state forest web pages included in the unit will be updated or created for those who do not yet have a page, and will include a printable map with the ârecreation facilitiesâ in that forest. Since there is no cell phone service in much of the area, printable maps will make sightseeing easier.
Forest lands included in the unit have various designations, uses and attributes.
The state forests included in Tug Hill East include the Lesser Wilderness – by far the largest included forest; Osceola from the East; east branch of Fish Creek; Source Mohawk; Line stream; Swancott Mills; and Cottrell.
While state forests are land purchased by the state in the 1930s and 1950s under the Hewitt Reforestation Amendment, âisolated preserved forest patchesâ predate the amendment.
As a result, state forests can be used for forest products including timber, recreation, water protection and wildlife, while isolated forest patches exist for watershed protection as old growth forests for their long-term attributes and wildlife habitat with few facilities built and logging prohibited.
Raywood Unique Area is a 316 acre parcel purchased by the state because it has historical, geological or ecological significance not found elsewhere.
There are also a number of private properties with conservation easement agreements with the state that generally allow logging.
To view the full draft management plan for Tug Hill East, visit wdt.me/TugHillPlan.
Public comments will be accepted until Monday. Email to [email protected], or mail to Andrea Mercurio, Forester, DEC Lowville Sub-Office, 7327 State Route 812, Lowville, NY 13367.