Perch River BCA Management Guidance Summary
Site Name: Perch River Bird Conservation Area
State Ownership and Managing Agency: Department of Environmental Conservation
Location: Jefferson County, Towns of Brownville, Orleans, and Pamelia.
Size of Area: 8,080 acres
General Site Information: The Perch River BCA consists of the entire Perch River Wildlife Management Area. High quality wetlands bordered by deciduous forest, shrubland, and open agricultural fields. There is an interspersion of open water, marsh, shrubland and forested wetland areas. The area supports a diverse array of wetland-associated and grassland species including many state-listed species.
Vision Statement: Continue management to conserve the wetland-dependent, grassland and other bird and wildlife species using the area.
Key BCA Criteria: Waterfowl concentration site; diverse species concentration site; individual species concentration site; species at risk site; bird research site (ECL §11-2001, 3.a, f, g, h, and i). The site supports American bittern (special concern), least bittern (threatened), osprey (special concern), bald eagle (threatened), 50-60 breeding pairs of black terns (endangered), sedge wren (threatened), and Henslow's sparrow (threatened). Many other characteristic wetland species breed here including pied-billed grebe (threatened), trumpeter swan, Virginia rail, sora, common moorhen, American coot, marsh wren, and swamp sparrow. Open water serves as foraging area for Caspian tern, common tern, black tern, pied-billed grebe, osprey, bald eagle, and many other species.
Critical Habitat Types: High quality wetlands and open water bordered by deciduous forest, shrubland, and open agricultural fields. Exemplary ecological communities include: deep emergent marsh, shallow emergent marsh, shrub swamp, and forested wetlands.
- Identify habitat management activities needed to maintain site as a BCA.
Maintain or restore proper hydrological flow to provide habitat and food resources for wetland-dependent birds. New or improved water control structures are needed to allow effective manipulation of water levels. Invasive species control and eradication may be needed. Some control efforts are underway. Mowing of grassland areas will be needed. Mowing is currently being done, but better equipment is needed to ensure against loss of more grasslands. Shrubland areas also should be maintained in early succession, and not allowed to revert to forest.
- Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
Removal of vegetation, especially in grasslands, during nesting season (May through July) would disturb breeding birds and should be avoided. Water levels need to be appropriate for wetland-dependent birds in summer, and for waterfowl during spring and fall migration.
- 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.
Ensure that bird conservation concerns are addressed in management plans.
- Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
Uses are generally low intensity and consistent with BCA designation. Signs, enforcement and trail markings could be improved to increase awareness of the area as a BCA and improve public compliance with environmental protection guidelines. Existing management includes portions being closed to access, portions being opened for specific periods, and some portions generally open. System seems to be working effectively.
- Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
Access to most areas is adequate, though in some areas trail systems could be enhanced through maps, clearer signs, and marking. The current management involves having some areas closed, some open for specific periods, and other areas generally open to the public.
- Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
Develop interpretive materials about the diverse bird species. Partner with Audubon and local bird clubs to develop education programs that highlight importance of area to diversity of bird species. Develop birding trail map and bird check lists.
- Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
Assess level and effect of non-point source pollution on wetland habitats and bird species. Assess effect of water level manipulation, or lack thereof, on wetland-dependent bird species. Inventory use of area by grassland and shrubland bird species. Develop strategies to enhance wetland, grassland, and shrubland habitats.
Other Issues: None identified.
DEC Region 6 Wildlife Manager, 315-785-2263
New York Natural Heritage Program. 1996. Perch River Wildlife Management Area: Biodiversity Inventory Final Report. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 1969. Management Plan for the Perch River Wildlife Management Area. NYSDEC, Region 6, Watertown, NY.
Wells, J.V. 1998. Important Bird Areas in New York State. National Audubon Society, Albany, NY.
Date BCA Designated: 11/16/01
Date MGS Prepared: 8/1/01