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Iona Island/Doodletown Bird Conservation Area

The area includes one of the largest tidal wetlands in the Hudson River. The ecological importance of Iona Island has been recognized through designation as: Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat Area, and National Natural Landmark. The Iona Island area is an approximately 270 acre tidal wetland that ranges from freshwater to brackish. It is dominated by narrow leaved cattail. Non-vegetated tidal flats, subtidal aquatic beds, and rocky uplands also occur. Tidal creek channels and a high gradient freshwater creek are also present. The Doodletown portion is largely a steep, rocky, undeveloped forest land that hosts a wide array of forest-nesting species, including rare warblers. The area as a whole provides highly valuable habitats for: marsh-nesting birds, waterfowl, warblers, shorebirds, eagles, amphibians, reptiles, and fish spawning and nursery areas.

Check the status of these species on the List of Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern Fish & Wildlife Species of New York State.

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Iona Island/Doodletown BCA Management Guidance Summary

State Ownership and Managing Agency

Palisades Interstate Park Commission, a region within the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP); site also includes several designated Department of State Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats.


Rockland County, Town of Stonypoint. This area is located in Bear Mountain State Park on the west shore of the Hudson River, just south of the Bear Mountain Bridge.

Size of Area

Approximately 1,500 acres

DEC Region


OPRHP Region


Vision Statement

The Iona Island/Doodletown Bird Conservation Area will continue to serve as an area of high diversity for upland and water-dependent species of birds. Recreational opportunities and access will continue in a manner consistent with the conservation of the diverse assemblage of bird species using the area. This area will also serve as an important resource for research into the conservation of bird diversity and for environmental interpretation and education.

Key BCA Criteria

Waterfowl concentration site; migratory concentration site; diverse species concentration site; species at risk site; bird research site (ECL §11-2001, 3.a, e, f, h, and i.). Listed species include bald eagle, least bittern, cerulean warbler, golden-winged warbler, osprey, northern harrier, and pied-billed grebe. Other bird species using the Doodletown area include hooded warbler, Kentucky warbler, Louisiana waterthrush, and Acadian flycatcher. Over 165 bird species have been observed within the Iona Island/Doodletown BCA.

Critical Habitat Types

Deciduous forest, tidal marsh area-both brackish and freshwater; converging of the upland and riverine systems is a basis for high bird diversity.

Operation and Management Considerations

Identify habitat management activities needed to maintain site as a BCA.
Coordinate activities with the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Consider recommendations as outlined in the Iona Island Estuarine Reserve and Bird Refuge Plan (1998). Public use in restricted area will be controlled by permits. Invasive species monitoring and control, as required. Minimize activities that would impact water quality, increase turbidity or sedimentation. Activities that would reduce freshwater inflows, or alter tidal fluctuations, should be carefully managed or avoided.

Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
Wintering bald eagles require relatively secluded areas. Activities that disturb eagles will need to be monitored and restricted if needed.

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.
None identified.

Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
Provide adequate management of recreational and other uses such as controlled boater access. Signs, enforcement, trail markings, habitat walkovers, and composting toilets should be used where practical.

Education, Outreach, and Research Considerations

Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
Restrict access to South Knoll due to unique and sensitive plant communities.

Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
Continue outreach through Trailside Museum and the League of Naturalists. Enhance use of the area as an environmental education resource by school groups.

Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
Work closely with Hudson River National Estuarine Research reserve, as well as with DEC, Department of State, New York State Museum, and environmental groups such as National Audubon and the League of Naturalists, for the continued inventory and monitoring of bird diversity.

Other Issues

Minimize herbicide use on the railroad right of way.

More about Iona Island/Doodletown Bird Conservation Area: