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John Boyd Thacher/Thompsons Lake BCA Management Guidance Summary

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Site Name: John Boyd Thacher/Thompson's Lake Bird Conservation Area

State Ownership and Managing Agency: Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation

Location: Albany County, Towns of New Scotland, Guilderland, Berne and Knox

Size of Area: ˜1,800 acres

DEC Region: 4

OPRHP Region: Saratoga-Capital District

General Site Information: The John Boyd Thacher/Thompson's Lake BCA consists of portions of two nearly contiguous State Parks in Albany County. John Boyd Thacher sits atop the Helderberg escarpment, a 100 foot high calcareous cliff. Thacher is dominated by forested uplands. The Thompson's Lake area consists of additional upland forest, old fields and a bur oak-black ash swamp adjacent to the lake. The lake itself is not owned by OPRHP.

Vision Statement: Recreational opportunities and access will continue in a manner consistent with conservation of the diverse assemblage of bird species using the area for breeding or during migration. The Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center and the BCA will serve as an important resource for environmental interpretation and education.

Key BCA Criteria: Migratory bird site, diverse species concentration site; species at risk site (ECL §11-2001, 3. e, f, h). There are 171 species of birds that have been identified within the J.B. Thacher and Thompson's Lake BCA, of which 102 are confirmed or probable breeders, including: sharp-shinned hawk (Special Concern), Cooper's hawk (Special Concern), northern goshawk (Special Concern) and golden-winged warbler (Special Concern). The forests support some of the area's highest densities of breeding songbirds such as hermit thrush, winter wren, magnolia, black-throated blue, black-throated green, blackburnian, Canada and worm-eating warblers and Louisiana and northern waterthrushes. J. B. Thacher supported the first recent regional nesting of common ravens and is now the nucleus for the population in the area.

Critical Habitat Types: : The BCA contains about 1,400 acres of upland forest with hemlock- northern hardwood predominating; also contains maple-basswood and successional northern hardwoods. Significant ecological community types include 3700 meters of calcareous cliff community. The bur oak-black ash swamp at Thompson's Lake appears to be a variant of red maple-hardwood swamp. Other habitat types include successional old field, emergent marsh and shrub swamp.

Operation and Management Considerations:

  • Identify habitat management activities needed to maintain site as a BCA.
    Management of the BCA will safeguard and enhance populations of wild birds and the habitats that the birds depend upon for breeding, migration, shelter, and sustenance.

    The large areas of northern hardwood and mixed forests at J. B. Thacher/Thompson's Lake need to be protected from fragmentation and isolation of habitats. Shrub/field habitats on the south side of Beaver Dam Road should be maintained for golden-winged warblers (Special Concern), which have nested there in the past and may continue to do so. Existing shrub/fields in Thompson's Lake area should also be maintained for grassland/shrub species.

    Monitor bird predation by human-associated predators, e.g., raccoons and cats. Take steps to control such predation if it becomes a significant threat.

    Monitor and control the spread of invasive plant species including garlic mustard and purple loosestrife.

  • Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
    Nesting northern goshawks (Special Concern) can be very aggressive in defense of their nesting territory. If goshawks nest near trails, the trails may need to be relocated during the nesting period (approx. mid-April to mid-August) to increase nesting success and to protect visitors.

  • 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.
    There are no state activities or operations that pose a threat to critical habitat types.

  • Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
    State Parks maintains a comprehensive trail system throughout the Park. Any alterations to the system or significant realignment or design of trails will require environmental review to assure that changes are consistent with bird habitat protection. Areas adjacent to designated trails will be monitored. Any adverse impacts to these areas will be remediated. Spread of informal trails off of designated trails will not be allowed.

Education, Outreach, and Research Considerations:

  • Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
    The Parks are open from 8:00 a.m. until dusk. Some parking areas may be closed until 8:00 a.m. Park staff has been cooperative about allowing access for birding outside the normal hours of operation with advance notice.

    The Indian Ladder trail, which runs along the base of the escarpment, is only open from May 1 through November 15, conditions permitting.

    Most of the area is accessible by foot trails only. Several overlooks are accessible by car.

  • Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
    The Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center at Thompson's Lake will be a primary facility for interpretation of natural resources at both parks.

    Interpretive materials about the diverse bird species will be developed. Update Birds of John Boyd Thacher and Thompson's Lake State Parks. Parks will continue partnerships with the Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club and SUNY-Albany on interpretive programs and inventories.

    A BCA kiosk will be designed and installed in an appropriate location.

  • Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
    Inventory of bird species is important to establishing a baseline. Periodic inventory will serve as a comparison with this baseline. Monitoring will have a focus on federally and/or state-listed species and measuring levels of diversity. Assess current breeding status of golden-winged warbler. Monitor trails for presence of nesting northern goshawk.

Tom Lyons, OPRHP, Albany, phone: 518-474-0409

Ray Perry, OPRHP, Albany, phone: 518-474-0409

Nancy Engel, OPRHP, E. T. Thacher Nature Center phone: 518-872-0800

Christopher Fallon, OPRHP, J.B.Thacher State Park, phone 518-872-1237

Able, K. P. 1996 in Birding New York's Hudson-Mohawk Region. Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club, Inc., Delmar, NY.

Birds of John Boyd Thacher & Thompson's Lake State Parks. NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Albany, NY.

Evans, D.J., P.G. Novak and T. W. Weldy, 2000, Rare Species and Ecological Communities of John Boyd Thacher State Park. New York Natural Heritage Program, Latham, NY.

Evans, D.J. and T. W. Weldy, 2000, Rare Species and Ecological Communities of Thompson's Lake State Park. New York Natural Heritage Program, Latham, NY.

New York State Breeding Bird Atlas 2000, Maps and Species Lists.

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

Date BCA Designated: 4/26/04

Date MGS Prepared: 4/20/04

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