Constitution Marsh BCA Management Guidance Summary
Site Name: Constitution Marsh Bird Conservation Area
State Ownership and Managing Agency: Property is owned by the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and managed by the National Audubon Society.
Location: Putnam County, Town of Philipstown
Size of Area: 270 acres
OPRHP Region: Taconic
General Site Information: The Constitution Marsh BCA is a large fresh /brackish tidal marsh located on the east shore of the Hudson River. It is one of only five large tidal marshes on the Hudson River. The site contains man-made dikes and channels constructed in the 1830's. The area has been designated by the New York State Department of State as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat and a Scenic Area of Statewide Significance.
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 continue to serve as a research and education site.
Key BCA Criteria: Waterfowl concentration site; migratory concentration site; diverse species concentration site; individual species concentration site; species at risk site (ECL§11-2001.3.a,e-h). This is an important wetland site hosting a diversity of birds (200 species have been identified at the site). Significant breeding bird species at the site include least bittern (threatened), Virginia rail, marsh wren, and swamp sparrow. It is an important waterfowl wintering and migratory stop-over site hosting average fall concentrations of 1,500 individuals with occasional peak counts of 4,000. It is particularly important as an American black duck wintering area. Other species that use the site during migration and/or winter include pied-billed grebe (threatened), osprey (special concern), bald eagle (threatened), northern harrier (threatened), and peregrine falcon (endangered). Fall swallow concentrations at the site typically number about 20,000 individuals, but can reach as high as 100,000.
Critical Habitat Types: Fresh/brackish tidal marsh. Important fish spawning and nursery habitat.
- Identify habitat management activities needed to maintain site as a BCA.
The site is currently managed by the National Audubon Society as a wildlife concentration area. Non-native invasive plants and animals such as purple loosestrife, European water chestnut, zebra mussel, and mute swan are monitored. Findings from monitoring will assist in determining the type and extent of any management of invasive species. Phragmites is currently encroaching into the northern end of the marsh. These Phragmites stands will need to be aggressively controlled to prevent further spreading into the marsh. They are currently being controlled through non-chemical means. Constitution Marsh is part of a federal Superfund site. Regular monitoring of contaminant levels will continue. Inventory and monitoring of wetland bird species will also continue.
- Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
The site is operated only as an environmental education and research center. Adjustments in numbers of visitors may be necessary during certain nesting 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.
- Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
Adjustments in numbers of visitors may be necessary during certain nesting periods.
- Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
Current access levels are within carrying capacity of the site. Any increases will be carefully assessed with respect to impacts.
- Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
National Audubon Society will continue with their current program and enhance it with equipment and materials as needed.
- Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
Impacts of invasive species need to be carefully tracked. Research should include potential impacts of contaminant levels associated with the Superfund site. Inventory and monitoring of wetland bird species will also continue.
Tom Lyons, OPRHP, Albany, 518-474-0409
Ralph Odell, OPRHP, Taconic Region, 845-889-4100, ext. 304
Eric Lind, Director Constitution Marsh Sanctuary, 845-265-2601
Ted Kerpez, DEC Region 3 Wildlife Manager, 845-256-3060
Wells, J. V. 1998. Important Bird Areas in New York State. National Audubon Society, Albany, New York.
Date BCA Designated: 5/18/01
Date MGS Prepared: 5/16/01