Planning and Administration Projects - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

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Planning and Administration Projects

General Fish and Wildlife Projects

Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan

photo of gray wolf
Gray Wolf
Photo by USFWS

New York will develop a Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan by October 2005, focusing on species of greatest conservation need in the state. We will work closely with partner organizations and the public to develop the plan, which will identify management needs, goals and strategies for more than 500 animal species that are rare, declining, vulnerable, or status unknown in New York State.

State Wildlife Grants Program Administration

This project has funded the staff necessary to develop, oversee and implement many of the projects described here. Without these staff members, there would be no one to prepare the grant agreements, memorandums of understanding and contracts that are required to utilize the funding available under the Federal State Wildlife Grants Program.

Wildlife Action Plan Revision

When Congress established funding for the State Wildlife Grants program, they required each state to develop a comprehensive plan for managing species in need of conservation efforts. Each plan must include 8 key elements, one of which is a procedure to review and revise the plan at least once every 10 years. The objective of this project is to perform the first such revision for NY's plan. This work includes a status assessment of all Species of Greatest Conservation Need and an evaluation of species and habitat vulnerability to climate change.

Biodiversity Conservation on Long Island

photo of Puritan tiger beetles
Puritan Tiger Beetles
Photo by USFWS

Fish and wildlife populations on Long Island (including parts of New York City) face a variety of threats to their continued existence, including loss of habitat to development, human disturbance of breeding and foraging areas, high predation rates and rising sea levels. This project would establish a regional biodiversity conservation specialist to assess the status of all "species of greatest conservation need" on Long Island, identify management needs, and help coordinate data collection.

Assessment of Biodiversity in the Allegheny and Susquehanna River Corridors

These two river systems support some of the most diverse animal species assemblages and habitats in New York, with many aquatic species existing only in these drainages. This effort will oversee the planning, implementation and coordination of comprehensive biodiversity surveys in these drainages, including fish, freshwater mussels, dragonflies and damselflies, reptiles, amphibians and birds. A conservation plan for the Allegheny basin, identifying important management and conservation needs, will be one product resulting from these surveys.

Ecological Assessment Tool for Watershed-based Planning

Site-based species and habitat conservation and restoration efforts are often successful for the immediate locality in which they occur, but importance of the project on a landscape scale is not often considered. The goal of this job is to develop a GIS-based planning tool for assessing the integrity and potential for biological diversity in distinct sub-watersheds, determine what impacts are affecting species of greatest conservation need, and design conservation projects to ensure viability of the habitat.

Incorporating Aquatic Animal Conservation Objectives into Transportation Planning

Every time a road crosses a stream, a bridge or culvert is required. Sometimes these structures adversely affect fish and wildlife by changing water flow or acting as barriers. This project will build a strategic partnership between transportation planners and wildlife managers in New York State. It will create tools that help NY State Department of Transportation identify priority streams and barriers to wildlife movement. Its ultimate goal is to integrate aquatic conservation objectives into road planning and maintenance work. Maps resulting from this project can also guide similar decision-making by town and county departments of public works.

Wildlife Habitat Connectivity in the Hudson River Valley

photo of riparian buffer
Riparian Buffer
Photo by NRCS

Most animal species need to be able to move across the landscape if their populations are to thrive. Because of this, connectivity between habitat areas is important. This project aims to identify and prioritize key corridors for animal migration in the Hudson River Valley. It hopes to provide planners with critical information for maintaining these much needed pathways.

Wildlife Conservation Analysis for Montgomery County

This project will assess how well existing conservation areas in Montgomery County provide for the habitat needs of wildlife. It will also identify areas of highest conservation priority for future protection. Project leaders will generate tools and information for use in the county planning process.

Development of Conservation Guidelines and Recovery Plans for Selected Species of Greatest Conservation Need

This project will develop comprehensive recovery plans that will describe the natural history, current status and proposed recovery strategy for 12 species that might disappear from New York unless preventive measures are taken. Factors that were applied in selection of the species included the immediacy of the threat and the DEC's ability to implement a recovery strategy. A wide variety of species will be addressed including butterflies, fish, reptiles and amphibians.

Conservation Guides for Landowners, Local Land-Use Decision Makers, and Conservation Practitioners

In recent years DEC has produced a series of conservation guides to assist local land-use planners and decision makers. The existing guides cover a wide variety of animals, plants and natural communities, explaining basic ecological information as well as conservation issues, threats, management implications, and research needs. Although the current guides are limited in geographic coverage to the Hudson River basin and Long Island, they have proven to be a useful resource for local planning authorities and state agencies. The objectives of this project are to improve the existing conservation guides to provide even more detailed management recommendations and to increase the number of species and communities they address.

Conservation Focus Maps

Implementation of a comprehensive management strategy on a statewide scale is a daunting task. Limited resources and the sheer scale of a state the size of New York mean that choices must be made as to where to apply those resources efficiently. A previous SWG-funded job, titled "Grassland Bird Conservation Plan for New York State," addressed the issue by developing a map defining focal areas where management for a suite of species was most likely to be successful. This project intends to generate other similar maps that define spatially specific areas where species management actions can be aimed to the best effect.

Coordinating Management of Critical Habitats on NY's Private Forest Lands

This project will identify the owners of private forest lands statewide who are willing to help the rare and declining wildlife species on those lands. It seeks to develop a comprehensive implementation plan that these landowners can follow for habitat management and restoration with wildlife in mind.

Evaluation of Wetland Restoration Incentive Programs

photo of American black duck
American Black Duck
Photo by USFWS

The importance of wetlands to the overall ecosystem is well recognized. Programs that compensate private landowners for preservation and restoration of wetlands are a major conservation tool of both government and private organizations. This project will evaluate the success and ecological impact of wetland restoration programs for wildlife. The project will focus on private lands in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties that received previous federal wetlands conservation incentives. It will attempt to determine how best to manage similar efforts to maximize the benefits to wildlife.

Northeast Wildlife Teamwork Strategy (NEWTS)

The State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program was conceived as a mechanism whereby U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would provide assistance to each of the states to address locally recognized wildlife diversity conservation needs. Some issues, though, are most effectively addressed at a regional scale. This ongoing project, dubbed the Regional Conservation Needs Program, is the result of a cooperative agreement between the Northeast states (Maine to Virginia) to contribute 4% of each state's annual SWG appropriation to be used to fund projects that are inherently regional in nature. The Regional Conservation Needs grant program began issuing awards in 2007.

Mammal Projects

There are no mammal projects in this category.

Bird Projects

Grassland Bird Conservation Plan

photo of a king rail
King Rail
Photo by USFWS

Because of widespread loss and fragmentation of grassland habitat, grassland bird populations are declining in New York and throughout North America. This project will develop a comprehensive plan to guide and direct grassland bird conservation and management on public and private lands in New York State. The plan will help direct conservation efforts to the most important areas, provide guidance to grassland owners and managers, and identify monitoring and research needs for grassland birds.

Conservation Plan for Common Terns in Upstate New York

Nesting populations of common tern, a threatened species in New York, occur in three upstate areas (Niagara River, Oneida Lake and St. Lawrence River). Most nesting occurs on artificial structures such as piers and navigation structures, which often require annual maintenance of nesting substrate, predator deterrents, and other measures to ensure successful nesting. In order to make management efforts more efficient, a long-term plan will be developed for conservation of common terns in upstate New York.

Comprehensive Bird Monitoring Plan

photo of a great egret
Great Egret
Photo by USFWS

Comprehensive and coordinated monitoring programs are needed to reliably assess the status of all bird "species of greatest conservation need" in New York State. This project will document details of existing bird monitoring and survey programs in New York and assess their utility for monitoring various species of concern. We will form a bird monitoring partnership, involving agencies, organizations, and individuals, to recommend and help implement new or improved monitoring and survey programs for all bird species in New York State.

Investigation of the Use of Fire and Mowing in Bird Habitat Management

Many forest habitat types in the Northeast are adapted to the regular or occasional occurrence of fire. Suppression of fires in recent decades has resulted in changes to these habitats so that they are less able to support the wildlife species that they once did. This project will evaluate the use of fire as a tool to maintain forest and grassland habitats for birds along the Shawangunk Ridge. Results will be incorporated into ongoing work in the Shawangunks and will also be applicable to other planning and management efforts across New York State where fire is being explored as a bird habitat management tool.

Reptile and Amphibian Projects

Recovery Planning for the Tiger Salamander

photo of a tiger salamander
Tiger Salamander

Habitat fragmentation by roads and developments has greatly diminished tiger salamander populations which are now restricted in New York to eastern Long Island. Much work has been done to identify breeding ponds for this species, but much less is known about its upland habitat requirements. This project will quantify the upland habitat requirements and investigate ways to minimize impacts of roadways and developments. This information will be provided to local governments which have responsibility for approving development plans in towns where this endangered species occurs.

Invertebrate Projects

There are no invertebrate projects in this category.

Fish and Marine Projects

Comprehensive Assessment of American Eel in New York State (Inland)

photo of an American eel
American Eel
Photo by USFWS

American eel populations have declined throughout North America, and commercial harvest continues without a clear understanding of forces responsible for the declines. A review of existing information and a set of management recommendations for inland waters of New York will be completed by summarizing available commercial catch reports, analyzing population trends by basin, identifying limiting factors, and prioritizing research needs.

Bay Scallop Restoration Planning and Pilot Spawner Sanctuary Evaluation

Historically, bay scallops represented an important shellfish resource in Peconic and Gardiner's Bays in eastern Long Island. Bay scallops experienced a 99 percent decline in abundance since 1985 due to occurrence of an unusual algal bloom known as "brown tide." This project will develop a Comprehensive Bay Scallop Restoration Plan and evaluate a pilot bay scallop spawner sanctuary, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Town of East Hampton and Southampton College. Results will provide vital information for the rehabilitation of bay scallop resources in New York State.

Re-evaluation of the Status of Inland Fishes of Greatest Conservation Need

Environmental Conservation Law charges DEC with protection and management of fish and wildlife and the preservation of endangered species. Determining which species warrant special protection can be complicated. This project will gather together all known records describing the distribution of rare freshwater fish species in the State and look at how that distribution has changed over time. Experts will then evaluate the data and decide what changes to make to the State's list of endangered, threatened and special concern species.

Conservation Focus Maps: Coastline, Salt Marsh, and Submerged Aquatic Vegetation

New York's marine environment has dramatically changed since humans settled here. Unfortunately the result has been a degraded and fragmented landscape that threatens the survival and diversity of many of the fish and wildlife species that inhabit the area. In order to protect the remaining habitats that support these species we first need to know where they are. New, computer-based mapping tools can help us identify these places. The goals of this project include producing maps that will identify conservation focus areas for the near-shore marine environment. These will be used to guide future preservation and restoration efforts.