Eastern Lake Ontario Marshes BCA Management Guidance Summary
Site Name: Eastern Lake Ontario Marshes Bird Conservation Area
State Ownership and Managing Agency: Department of Environmental Conservation
Location: Oswego County, Towns of Sandy Creek, Richland, and Mexico; Jefferson County, Town of Ellisburg. Includes Deer Creek, Lakeview Marsh, and Black Pond Wildlife Management Areas, as well as the Sandy Pond Beach Unique Area.
Size of Area: Approximately 4,940 acres
DEC Region: 6, 7
General Site Information: The BCA is a complex of long barrier beaches, embayments, dunes, marshes, and swamps with cold water streams. Lakeshore barrier beach and wetland complexes such as this are rare in New York State. This area has been recognized by the Department of State as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat and, in part, has also been designated as a National Natural Landmark. This BCA has significant breeding and over-wintering habitats, and serves as a critical migratory corridor for birds.
Vision Statement: Continue management to conserve the diversity of bird species using the area. Continue to undertake and promote research and management at the site, particularly for the breeding black tern population.
Key BCA Criteria: Waterfowl concentration site; shorebird concentration site; migratory concentration site; diverse species concentration site; individual species concentration site; species at risk site; bird research site (ECL §11-2001, 3.a, c, e, f, g, h and i.). Listed species include black tern (endangered), pied-billed grebe (threatened), least bittern (threatened), American bittern (special concern) and northern harrier (threatened). There are historical records (1980) of nesting sedge wren (threatened) and piping plover (last nested 1984). Site is a critical migration area for shorebirds, songbirds and waterfowl. Large flocks of swallows, including bank swallows, are known to migrate through the area.
Critical Habitat Types: Mosaic of Great Lakes inland dunes and high quality wetlands with extensive barrier beaches backed by shrub/scrub and forested lands. Rare or exemplary ecological communities: silver maple-ash swamp, Great Lakes dunes, rich shrub fen, medium fen, red maple-hardwood swamp, red maple-tamarack peat swamp, maple-basswood rich mesic forest, deep emergent marsh, sand beach.
- Identify habitat management activities needed to maintain site as a BCA.
Invasive species control and eradication are needed. Inventory and monitoring of bird species is needed.. Maintenance of an interspersion of open water and emergent vegetation for nesting black terns is very important. Activities that would substantially degrade water quality, increase temperature or turbidity, reduce water levels, alter flows, or increase water level fluctuations need to be assessed and managed. The effect of high levels of human use on dune stability needs to be assessed and managed.
- Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
Make sure that routine operations do not disturb black tern nesting areas during the breeding season (May - July). Adults temporarily abandon nests when humans get too close, leaving eggs and chicks vulnerable to predators and/or harsh weather. Also, black terns' fragile nests, built on floating substrates, may be inundated by strong boat wakes.
- 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.
Mowing of grassland areas should be done outside of the nesting season (April 1 to August 1).
- Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
Motorized access, including boats, could significantly impact on the area. Continue to improve management of human use. Signs, enforcement, trail markings, and dune walkovers should continue to be used where practical.
- Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
Current access is adequate. Access through sensitive dune areas needs to be managed.
- Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
Continue partnerships with The Nature Conservancy and the Eastern Ontario Dunes Coalition to promote awareness and education of the area's natural resources and sensitivities.
- Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
Inventory and monitor bird species. In particular, continue studies of black terns, including data collection on their use of artificial nesting platforms, investigations of nest predators, banding efforts and collection of specimens for contaminant analysis. Assess effects of pesticide use and human disturbance on nesting endangered and threatened species.
Other Issues: Parts of the BCA have been tentatively identified by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as critical habitat for piping plovers. A court-ordered process of identifying all critical habitats for piping plovers is underway. Portions of the barrier beaches have historically supported nesting piping plovers. Although there appear to be some habitat changes that contribute to the area being less suitable for piping plover nesting, it remains the most viable potential area in the eastern Lake Ontario area.
DEC Region 6 Wildlife Manager, 315-785-2261
DEC Region 7 Wildlife Manager, 607-753-3095
Andrle, R.F. and J.R. Carroll. 1988. The Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.
Levine, E. 1998. Bull's Birds of New York State. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.
Mazzocchi, I.M. 1998. Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) Investigations in Northern New York, 1997. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, Watertown, NY.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 1993. Black Pond Wildlife Management Area Biodiversity Inventory Final Report. Prepared for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Latham, NY.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 1993. Deer Creek Marsh Wildlife Management Area Biodiversity Inventory Final Report. Prepared for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Latham, NY.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 1993. Lakeview Marsh Wildlife Management Area Biodiversity Inventory Final Report. Prepared for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Latham, NY.
New York State Department of State. 1993. Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat Narrative.
Novak, Paul G. 1990. Population status of the black tern (Chlidonias niger) in New York State, 1989. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, Delmar, NY.
Wells, J. V. 1998. Important Bird Areas in New York State. National Audubon Society, Albany, New York.
Date BCA Designated: 8/31/98
Date MGS Prepared: 8/1/01