Mongaup Valley BCA Management Guidance Summary
Site Name: Mongaup Valley Bird Conservation Area
State Ownership and Managing Agency: Department of Environmental Conservation
Location: Sullivan County, Towns of Forestburgh, Lumberland; Orange County, Town of Deer Park.
Size of Area: 11,967 acres
DEC Region: 3
General Site Information: The Mongaup Valley Bird Conservation Area includes all of the Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area, and consists of a series of reservoirs, the Mongaup River, and creeks flowing through the Mongaup River Valley to the Delaware River. The river corridor is surrounded by relatively undisturbed and forested rolling hills. The area hosts one of the largest bald eagle wintering sites in the state, and also supports several active eagle nests. Rare communities include: a perched bog, a flood-plain forest, and a pitch pine-oak-heath woodland. Rare species, other than birds, include timber rattlesnake and spotted salamander.
Vision Statement: Continue current management to conserve the diversity of bird and wildlife species using the area, particularly bald eagles. Develop systems for monitoring status of bird species at the site, especially state-listed species.
Key BCA Criteria: Individual species concentration site; species at risk site (ECL §11- 2001, 3.g and h). Area supports one of the largest concentrations of wintering bald eagles in New York State (150+ individuals), and 3+ pairs of nesting bald eagles as well. Species at risk include: bald eagle (threatened), red-shouldered hawk (special concern), cerulean warbler (special concern).
Critical Habitat Types: Large area of relatively contiguous, wooded forest.
Operation and Management Considerations:
- Identify habitat management activities needed to maintain site as a BCA.
In accordance with a settlement agreement between NYS, USFWS and Southern Power Co. (formerly Orange and Rockland Utilities), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license, pulsed water releases by Southern Power to generate hydropower keep the reservoirs and river from freezing completely, thereby providing a foraging area for wintering eagles. Eagles feed on fish pulled into the turbines during hydroelectric generation (in particular, alewives) that pass through and into the open stream sections below. These dead, injured and stunned fish provide an invaluable forage base for wintering eagles. DEC needs to be involved in the re-licensing of the hydropower projects when their current licenses run out (not for 20+ years).
- Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
Eagles continue to require open water during winter. Human disturbance around feeding areas and roost sites for eagles will be minimized (December through March). Eagle nesting sites should be left undisturbed during the breeding season. The use of power boats (outboard motors) will be restricted on the Mongaup River and reservoirs.
- 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 unit management plan nearing completion.
- Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
Human disturbance at feeding sites and roosting sites in winter should be monitored as well as disturbance near nest sites. Disturbance to wintering areas and nesting areas will be minimized, while allowing access for viewing (eagle blind).
Education, Outreach, and Research Considerations:
- Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
Current access is generally adequate; however, the existing eagle viewing blind is not adequate. DEC built a viewing blind for watching eagles some years ago, but a newer, larger, better organized viewing area is needed to control viewers. The FERC's licensing and settlement process provides for access to the Mongaup River and associated reservoirs.
- Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
Develop interpretive materials about bald eagles and other priority bird species that use the area. Partner with Adopt-A-Natural-Resource with the Eagle Institute, Audubon, and bird clubs to develop programs.
- Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
Continue monitoring of eagle numbers and use of area. Assess impact of human disturbance on eagles. Study eagle food supply and levels of contaminants in prey. Carry out inventory for state-listed breeding bird species including cerulean warbler.
DEC Region 3 Wildlife Manager, 845-256-3060
DEC Endangered Species Unit, 518-402-8924
Vissering, P. 1999. Draft Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area Unit Management Plan. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Wells, J. V. 1998. Important Bird Areas in New York State. National Audubon Society, Albany, New York.
Date BCA Designated: 6/16/00
Date MGS Prepared: 6/21/00