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Fahnestock Bird Conservation Area

General Site Information: The Fahnestock BCA is a large, wooded tract which includes six lakes, a hemlock/stream ravine, and some marsh habitat. Much of the forest is mature oak and mixed hardwoods with an understory of mountain laurel. Relatively large stands of hemlock are also present in some areas of the park. The BCA supports a representative community of breeding birds that prefer mature hardwood forests, as well as some marsh and water-dependent bird species. The BCA includes the Hubbard/Perkins Conservation Area, and portions of Fahnestock state park.

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Fahnestock BCA Management Guidance Summary

Site Name: Fahnestock Bird Conservation Area

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

Location: Putnam County, Towns of Kent, Philipstown, and Putnam Valley.

Size of Area: 10,050 acres

DEC Region: 3

OPRHP Region: Taconic

Vision Statement: Manage this site to facilitate recreational opportunities and access in a manner consistent with the conservation of the diverse bird species using the area. The area will also serve as a resource for research and education.

Key BCA Criteria: Diverse species concentration site; species at risk site (ECL §11-2001, 3.f and h). Characteristic bird species include: red-shouldered hawk (special concern), cerulean warbler (special concern), whip-poor-will (special concern), broad-winged hawk, wild turkey, barred owl, Acadian flycatcher, winter wren, blue-gray gnatcatcher, veery, hermit thrush, blue-headed vireo, yellow-throated vireo, warbling vireo, blue-winged warbler, black-throated green warbler, prairie warbler, worm-eating warbler, ovenbird, northern and Louisiana waterthrush, hooded warbler, scarlet tanager, common raven, and dark-eyed junco, among others. Northern goshawk (special concern) has been documented here in winter.

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.
    Selective removal of invasive plant species may be needed (e.g., Phragmites, Japanese barberry, purple loosestrife). A recent inventory (Desaultes 2000) has documented considerable invasion of Phragmites into stream and wet ravine areas in certain sections of the BCA. Barberry is invading some upland habitats, displacing native vegetation. Also, water level manipulation may be needed in some areas, such as Hidden Lake. Due to a breach in its earthen dam, the level of Hidden Lake has dropped approximately three feet. Restoration of historic lake levels would benefit use by water and wetland-dependent bird species.

  • Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
    Trail maintenance and removal of vegetation during breeding season (May - July) could disturb nesting birds. High levels of use and disturbance could affect breeding success, and public access to some areas may need to be closed during critical breeding periods.

  • 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 when a management plan is prepared for the park.

  • Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
    Continue to improve management of human use. There is a need to more closely evaluate the capacity of areas for human use relative to breeding bird success. There is a need to provide improved enforcement of the regulation prohibiting off-road vehicles. Clearer guidelines regarding mountain bike, hiking, and equestrian uses are needed. There is a need for a written agreement between Parks and trail user groups regarding trail maintenance activities.

Education, Outreach, and Research Considerations:

  • Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
    Current access to the BCA appears to be adequate. Increased access for birding and/or the need to restrict access at critical times of the year to some areas needs to be assessed. Access to the BCA from adjacent park areas may be enhanced after satisfactory environmental impact assessment.

  • Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
    Partner with Audubon and local bird clubs to develop interpretive displays, slide shows, programs and materials about needs of forest-dependent bird species.

    Christmas Bird counts extend back to 1954. The Christmas counts and summer bird counts with Audubon should be continued and a comprehensive database created and maintained.

    Update "Checklist of Birds of Fahnestock State Park."

    Make available the results of studies on bird habitats within parts of the BCA (Linn 2000).

  • Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
    Inventory and monitor bird species, especially state-listed species. In particular, surveys of cerulean warbler, worm-eating warbler, northern waterthrush and whip-poor-will are needed. The effects of changes in water levels in Hidden Lake on biodiversity (including bird and plant species) should be assessed.

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

Ralph Odell, OPRHP, Taconic Region, 845-889-4100, ext. 304

Ted Kerpez, DEC Region 3 Wildlife Manager, 845-256-3060

Desaultes, R. 2000. Intern Report on Extent of Phragmites in Fahnestock State Park. NYS OPRHP, Environmental Management Bureau, Albany, NY.

Levine, E. 1998. Bull's Birds of New York State. Comstock Publishing, Ithaca, NY.

Linn, S. 2000. Report on Biodiversity Protection: Clarence Fahnestock State Park. NYS OPRHP, Taconic Regional State Park Office, Staatsburg, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2000. Biodiversity Inventory Report for Clarence Fahnestock State Park (in process). NYS OPRHP, Environmental Management Bureau, Albany, NY.

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

Date BCA Designated: 9/29/00

Date MGS Prepared: 9/27/00

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