High Tor BCA Management Guidance Summary
Site Name: High Tor Bird Conservation Area
State Ownership and Managing Agency: Department of Environmental Conservation
Location: Yates County, Towns of Middlesex and Italy; and Ontario County, Town of Naples.
Size of Area: 6,100 acres
General Site Information: This BCA includes three separate areas of diverse habitat, including: approximately 3,400 acres of steep wooded terrain with several man-made impoundments; 1,700 acres of freshwater marsh bordering the south end of Canandaigua Lake; and 1,000 acres of overgrown fields with steep, wooded hillsides. The site as a whole provides for a tremendous diversity of habitats and bird species.
Vision Statement: Manage the area to conserve all of the diverse habitats and birds present. In the hardwood forested areas, maintaining and enhancing the available shrublands and other early successional habitats will be a priority, along with enhancing the conifer stands.
Key BCA Criteria: Migratory concentration site, diverse species concentration site, individual species concentration site, species at risk site (ECL § 11-2001, 3.e, f, g, h). Species of interest include: pied-billed grebe (Threatened), bald eagle (Threatened), least bittern (Threatened), American bittern (Special Concern), northern goshawk (Special Concern), Cooper's hawk (Special Concern), common moorhen, Virginia rail, sora, prothonotary warbler, black-billed cuckoo, carolina wren, brown thrasher, blue-winged warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, indigo bunting, field sparrow, bobolink, eastern meadowlark, blue-headed vireo, yellow-throated vireo, hooded warbler, Canada warbler, blackburnian warbler, mourning warbler, orchard oriole, and many others. A small great blue heron rookery is also present.
Critical Habitat Types: Early successional habitats, conifer stands, emergent marshes, and large blocks of forest.
- Identify habitat management activities needed to maintain site as a BCA.
Even-aged forestry management (ie, clearcutting) will be an important component of the management of the hardwood forests, which will add diversity to the habitats and bird utilization. Many species (e.g., American woodcock, golden-winged warbler, chestnut-sided warbler) favor and can be greatly enhanced by rotational even-aged logging.
Existing grassland and shrubland habitats should be retained as such through a management program. Mowing or burning of grassland areas will help prevent natural succession. Existing shrublands should be maintained through periodic removal of trees.
Avoid ditching or damming of Naples Creek.
- Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
Mowing and brush cutting should be minimized during the nesting season (April through July).
- 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.
The biggest threat to early successional species would be the lack of continued even-aged management.
- Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
- Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
- Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
There is often a misunderstanding among the public that tree harvesting (whether selective cutting or even-aged) is bad for the environment, and for birds. There has been an ongoing education/outreach effort at this site that outlines the benefits of habitat manipulation techniques such as even-aged management to many birds. This effort has been beneficial and should be continued and expanded.
- Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
DEC Region 8 Wildlife Manager: 585-226-5460
New York Natural Heritage Program. 1998. High Tor 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: 3/12/02
Date MGS Prepared: 2/12/02