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Joseph Davis BCA Management Guidance Summary

Site Name: Joseph Davis Bird Conservation Area

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

Location: Niagara County, Town of Lewiston

Size of Area: ˜230 acres

DEC Region: 9

OPRHP Region: Niagara Frontier

General Site Information: The Joseph Davis BCA is part of Joseph Davis State Park. It includes approximately 1,400 feet of frontage on the Niagara River and 31 acres of underwater land. About two-thirds of the BCA is successional shrubland. Mature second growth forests are found in the eastern portion of the BCA and along the Niagara River shoreline. Other ecological communities represented in the BCA are old fields, open water and wetlands.

Joseph Davis State Park is part of the National Audubon Society's Niagara River Corridor Important Bird Area.

Vision Statement: Recreational/interpretive 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.

Key BCA Criteria: Migratory concentration site; diverse species concentration site and species at risk site (ECL §11-2001, 3.e, f, and h). During spring and fall migration, songbirds concentrate along major rivers (Wells 1998a). The habitats along the Niagara River shoreline support an exceptional diversity of migratory songbirds during spring and fall migration (Wells 1998b). The vegetation, including several species of berry producing shrubs at Joseph Davis provide significant food sources for migratory birds (Wells 1998a). The fields host northern harrier, horned lark, savannah sparrow, bobolink and eastern meadowlark. Species at risk include state threatened pied-billed grebe, bald eagle, northern harrier and common tern and state species of special concern, osprey, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper's hawk, common nighthawk, whip-poor-will, horned lark and yellow-breasted chat. Joseph Davis is also one of the best spots in the Niagara Region for wintering eastern bluebirds.

Critical Habitat Types: Successional shrubland is the dominant ecological community in the BCA (OPRHP 1998). Many species dependent on successional habitats have shown dramatic declines in New York State. The upland forest along the Niagara River is important to those migratory songbirds that use the river as a migration corridor during spring and fall.

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.

Maintain the forest, shrubland and old field areas in as nearly natural condition as possible (NYS DEC 1994). Protection of wetland, forest and shrub habitat along the shoreline should be a priority (Wells 1998b).

A specific habitat management plan will be developed in concert with the DEC, Audubon, and other interest groups.

Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
To the extent possible, mowing within the BCA will not occur until after birds have fledged their broods, preferably after August 15th.

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 current state activities that pose a threat to critical habitats.

Improvements to the trail system and its operation will be subject to environmental review and consultation will be sought from DEC and other resource agencies or groups as appropriate. Activities at the proposed nature center will be done in concert with bird conservation efforts.

Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
In the fall NYS DEC stocks pheasants for hunting. Hunting is allowed on opening day and the first Saturday of hunting season, by permit only. Any proposed changes in permits for hunting or modification of habitat should be evaluated in terms of the impact to shrubland birds and their habitat.

Education, Outreach, and Research Considerations:

Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
Current access is adequate. Grounds are open year round. Trails are available for hiking, skiing and nature interpretation. Access may increase with implementation of the master plan. Increased access will require prior evaluation relative to bird conservation.

Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
Education should focus on (1) the value of shrubland and successional fields and (2) the importance of upland habitats along the Niagara River to migratory birds. On a regional level, the importance of the Niagara River as a migratory route and the Joseph Davis BCA's role as part of the Niagara River Corridor Important Bird Area should be interpreted.

Continue cooperation with the Buffalo Ornithological Society and Buffalo Audubon.

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

Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
Monitor birds in successional shrub and grassland habitats to establish a baseline for these species, especially species at risk.

Thomas Welch, OPRHP, Joseph Davis State Park, 716-754-4596

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

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

NYS DEC, 1994. Niagara River Remedial Action Plan.

NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, 1998. Draft Master Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Joseph Davis State Park.

Wells, J.V. 1998a Written comments on Joseph Davis Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Well, J. V. 1998b Important Bird Areas in New York State, National Audubon Society.

Date BCA Designated: 3/14/05

Date MGS Prepared: 3/9/05

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