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Management Projects

General Fish and Wildlife Projects

Managing for Early Successional Habitat in Northern NY

Forested areas are maturing across the state. When this happens, birds and other species that live in shrubby habitats suffer. This project will develop a set of best management practices to favor the American woodcock, a representative bird species dependent on shrub habitat. The project will use demonstration areas on the 274,186 acres of former International Paper and Domtar, Inc. timberlands purchased by Lyme Timber, Inc. Secondary recipients of technical assistance will include NYSDEC Wildlife Management Areas, Department of Defense installations, and other private forest landowners.

Management & Restoration of Grassland Habitats on Multiple State Lands

photo of a short-eared owl
Short-eared Owl
Photo by NYSDEC

The loss and degradation of grasslands has resulted in a steady decline for species adapted to this type of habitat. This project will manage and restore 1,618 acres of grassland habitats on various state-owned lands in central and lower New York State. Project management actions will involve seasonal mowing, prescribed burns, tilling, seeding of warm season grasses, cool season grasses and wildflowers, and placement of some nesting bird boxes. Public benefits from this project will include the continued enjoyment of bird watching, hiking and hunting in these regions.

Lookout Hill Habitat Restoration

Lookout Hill is an important piece of Brooklyn's last forest and a documented habitat for at least 50 rare and declining bird species. Over time this part of Prospect Park has suffered from neglect and unsound management practices. This project will repair eroded slopes, remove invasive plants, and restore native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants to the area. It is hoped that the work will re-establish the Hill's attractiveness to migrating and breeding birds.

Managing Wildlife Habitat with Fire on Long Island

photo of a controlled fire
Controlled Fire
Photo by USFWS

Fire suppression, especially in forest areas near people, has changed the nature of many eastern forests so that they no longer support the wildlife species that they once did. This project will use carefully controlled fire as a tool to restore and expand pitch pine - scrub oak woodlands, grasslands and shrub lands on Long Island. The fires will improve these habitats for birds, butterflies, moths, amphibians and reptiles. In addition to hopefully benefiting these wildlife species, the project will also reduce the potential for wildfires and thus improve public safety in the surrounding areas.

Barrier Mitigation in the Hudson River Watershed

Hundreds of dams and other barriers to fish movement exist in the Hudson River watershed. Many have outlived their usefulness and are falling into disrepair, yet still prevent the free movement of aquatic species. The impact of these barriers has been implicated in the serious decline of many aquatic species. The objectives of this project include removal of two dams, one each on Quassaick and Moodna Creeks, as well as creating a procedural framework whereby other similar barriers may be removed in the future. The result will be a significant increase in habitat for a number of rare fish species.

Barrier Mitigation in the Delaware Basin

Although the extent of the problem is not well documented, there are hundreds of dams and other aquatic barriers in the Delaware River watershed. The impacts barriers have on migratory fish species like American shad have been well publicized but dams, impassible culverts, and some bridge structures are also highly detrimental to other aquatic species as well. Many dams have outlived their usefulness but still cause problems for wildlife. Culverts and bridges often can be modified to allow for fish movement without impairing their primary function. The objectives of this project include identifying barriers in the Delaware River basin that heavily impact wildlife and mitigating the adverse effects of at least 10 of them.

Habitat Management for Rare and Declining Species

Congress had identified private landowners as a linchpin for conservation of at-risk species when they authored legislation that created the Landowner Incentive Program in 2004. This program was only funded through 2007, but the similarity to the goals of the State Wildlife Grants Program made it a natural fit to continue on under SWG funding. This project is intended to restore, create and maintain habitat within targeted focus areas for a variety of declining species. Targets identified in the project are grassland birds, bog turtles, New England cottontail rabbits and golden-winged warblers.

Mammal Projects

There are no mammal projects in this category.

Bird Projects

Conservation of Beach-nesting Birds on Long Island

Long Island is home to regionally important populations of beach-nesting birds, including piping plover, roseate tern, least tern, common tern, American oystercatcher and black skimmer. Human activities and development threaten the survival of these species in New York State. DEC plans to provide supplies and materials, such as fencing, signs, and exclosures to cooperating property owners and organizations to help protect key nesting areas and ensure the conservation of beach-nesting birds in New York.

Golden-Winged Warbler Habitat Restoration

photo of a golden-winged warbler
Golden-winged Warbler

The golden-winged warbler (GWWA) has declined at an annual rate of eight percent for the last 35 years in the northeastern U.S. and is a candidate for federal listing as a threatened or endangered species. Possible factors in its decline include loss of habitat due to reforestation and hybridization with the blue-winged warbler. Results of prior SWG-funded research will be used to design and conduct an experimental habitat restoration project in Sterling Forest State Park to assess the feasibility of creating or maintaining suitable habitat for GWWA in southeastern New York.

Bird Habitat Restoration through Deer Management

Deer are sometimes so abundant that their feeding greatly reduces the growth of the young trees, shrubs and other plants needed to maintain a healthy and diverse forest system. This project will attempt to correct this problem in the Mohonk Preserve by recruiting more hunters and making it easier for them to get access to the parts of the preserve with the greatest deer densities. It is hoped that the result will be greater structural diversity in the forest understory and that forest dependent birds will benefit.

Reptile and Amphibian Projects

Managing Wetland Complexes for Multiple Turtle Species

photo of a wood turtle
Wood Turtle
Photo by NBII

This project will manage wetlands within the Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks in Orange and Rockland Counties for the diverse turtle community found there. Managers will use surveys and radio-monitoring to design practices that will aid the survival of juvenile turtles including the protection of nests from predators, a captive rearing program in cooperation with the Trailside Zoo and restoration of nesting sites that have been shaded over by trees.

Hellbender Headstarting

The eastern hellbender, NY's largest salamander, has undergone severe decline within its small historic range in the State. Recent survey information from the Allegheny River basin shows that hellbender populations there are largely comprised of older adult animals, suggesting that eggs are either not hatching successfully or that juvenile hellbenders don't live long enough to become adults. By hatching and rearing hellbenders in captivity for later release, this project will attempt to ensure the continued existence of the species in New York long enough to allow researchers to understand and solve the underlying the causes of the problem.

Invertebrate Projects

Karner Blue Butterfly Conservation in Glacial Lake Albany: Habitat Restoration and Adaptive Management

Karner blue butterfly numbers have been sharply declining in the last 5 years. DEC will hire one or more contractors to develop a habitat restoration/management plan in conjunction with DEC Central Office, Regional foresters and wildlife staff to create habitat attributes such as canopy cover and structural heterogeneity. With an increase in suitable habitat, it is expected that Karner blue butterflies will be able to colonize and increase the size of the population.

Habitat Management for the Karner Blue Butterfly

photo of a Karner blue butterfly
Karner Blue Butterfly
Photo by USFWS

This project will restore habitat for the endangered Karner blue butterfly in the Albany Pine Bush and Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park. Tasks will include removal of invasive plant species and sowing native grasses and flowers. The project will also use mowing and prescribed fire to maintain previously restored areas. In addition to the Karner blue butterfly, this work is expected to benefit birds that depend upon shrub habitat, grassland birds, turtles, woodland-grassland snakes, and several other species of butterflies, moths and other insects.

Fish and Marine Projects

Peconic River Fish Passage Installation

Certain fish species live portions of their lives in fresh- and saltwater. Prior to the construction of dams that powered the early industrial development, fish species like alewives, American eel and blueback herring had free access to hundreds of miles of inland streams and rivers. Dams and other barriers to fish movement have been implicated in the severe decline of many of these fish species. This project to replace an impassable culvert located at the Upper Mills Dam on the Peconic River will re-open significant prime historic habitat for river herring and American eel.

Restoration of Gilt Darter in the Allegheny River

The gilt darter is a small fish last found in NY was in 1937. Its disappearance has been blamed on pollution and silt build up in the Allegheny River basin where it was originally found. Although habitat improvements that have occurred since its disappearance suggest that the fish could once again survive here, the 1965 construction of the Kinzua Dam prevented downstream populations in Pennsylvania from being able to re-colonize NY. The goal of this project is to raise gilt darters in a hatchery using stock from a source population in Pennsylvania or elsewhere, allowing us to replace this extirpated species and help restore the native fish community.

Assessment and Implementation of Lake Sturgeon Recovery Efforts in New York State

Lake sturgeon were an historically abundant and widely distributed species in New York State, but severely depleted stocks due to over-harvest and habitat degradation resulted in closing of the fishery in 1976 and the species continued existence in the State is now considered threatened. A stocking program was begun using St. Lawrence River fish as the brood source but had to be discontinued when the fish disease Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia was discovered in the River in 2006. This multi-faceted project will attempt to assess the progress of previous stocking efforts and re-establish a viable stocking program, considered necessary for continuation of the sturgeon restoration program.

Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding

This work is focused on lending a helping hand to rare marine species in need. The project will help fund the New York Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Network. Funds will help maintain a 24-hour hotline to report stranding events, gather biological data on the species involved and help provide an appropriate response to stranding incidents.