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Upper and Lower Lakes BCA Management Guidance Summary

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Site Name: Upper and Lower Lakes Bird Conservation Area

State Ownership and Managing Agency: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Location: St. Lawrence County, Towns of Canton and DeKalb.

Size of Area: 8,781 acres

DEC Region: 6

General Site Information: Large complex of open water surrounded by marsh, shrub, swamp, and upland forest. Upland areas include grassland and some shrubland, as well as forest.

Vision Statement: Manage the area to conserve the diverse bird species, and the habitats upon which they depend.

Key BCA Criteria: Waterfowl concentration site, wading bird concentration site, migratory concentration site, diverse species concentration site, individual species concentration site, species at risk site (ECL § 11-2002, 3.a, d, e, f, g and h). Species of interest include: black tern (Endangered), pied-billed grebe (Threatened), least bittern (Threatened), northern harrier (Threatened), upland sandpiper (Threatened), sedge wren (Threatened), American bittern (Special Concern), osprey (Special Concern), common loon (Special Concern), cerulean warbler (Special Concern), sharp-shinned hawk, bobolink, savannah sparrow, eastern meadowlark, marsh wren, Virginia rail, sora, American woodcock, common snipe, magnolia warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, brown thrasher, ring-necked duck, wood duck.

Critical Habitat Types: Emergent marsh, open water, grassland, forested wetlands, early successional habitats.

Operation and Management Considerations:

  • Identify habitat management activities needed to maintain site as a BCA.
    A control program for purple loosestrife has already been started and will continue. For other invasive exotic species, such as hydrilla, a removal/control program should be undertaken before these plants become too widespread. Water level control and management will help preserve stable habitat for the water-dependent birds. Maintenance of open water dispersed with emergent vegetation is critical for black terns, least bitterns, and pied-billed grebes. Sedge wrens would benefit from maintaining riparian areas adjacent to marshes and shrub swamps as wet meadows and grasslands. Grassland areas will need to be mowed periodically to prevent succession. Shrubland areas will need to be managed to maintain these areas as early successional habitat.

  • Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
    Water level drawdowns are necessary for vegetation management in marsh areas. Drawdowns help control vegetation and maintain an interspersion of marsh vegetation and open water needed by many marsh species and waterfowl. Drawdowns during the marsh bird nesting season will be avoided when possible, but drawdowns during this season will periodically be needed to provide effective vegetative control. Fluctuating water levels will be minimized to the extent possible, given the limitations of water fluctuation control, especially during drawdowns.

    Mowing of grasslands should not occur until after the nesting season for most grassland birds (ends July 31). Mowing normally occurs on a three year rotation.

  • Identify state activities or operations which may pose a threat to the critical habitat types identified above; recommend alternatives to existing and future operations which may pose threats to those habitats.
    See above under seasonal sensitivities. The action that would be most detrimental would be the lack of management to maintain marshes, grassland and shrubland habitats.

  • Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
    Human disturbance to nesting areas should be minimized, especially near Northern Harrier nesting territories, and near black tern nesting colonies.

Education, Outreach, and Research Considerations:

  • Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
    Access is adequate.

  • Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
    Efforts to educate the public regarding wetland-dependent species, and grassland species should be implemented. A kiosk that portrays these species suites should be placed at a high use access point.

  • Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
    Inventory for a variety of species appears to be needed, in particular for: rails, bitterns, grassland birds, shrubland birds, sedge wrens, and cerulean warblers.

DEC Region 6 Wildlife Manager: 315-785-2261

New York Natural Heritage Program. 1996. Upper and Lower Lakes Biodiversity Inventory Report. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

Wells, J. V. 1998. Important Bird Areas in New York State. National Audubon Society, Albany, New York.

Date BCA Designated: 10/22/02

Date MGS Prepared: 2/12/02

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