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Baxtertown Woods Wildlife Management Area

Reclassification Proposal May 2011

DEC reclassified the Baxtertown portion of the Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center (SKFEEC) property to Baxtertown Woods Management Area (WMA). The Baxtertown property is a 222-acre parcel that is south of Baxtertown Road and east of Rte. 9D and located entirely in the Town of Fishkill. The state acquired this parcel in 2005, increasing the acreage of the existing Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center property.

Public access for wildlife-related recreation, including hunting, is limited in the Hudson Valley, particularly in southern Dutchess County. The Baxtertown property offers opportunities for such recreation, as well as wildlife and habitat management. Growing deer populations have led to increased nuisance issues, such as damage to household gardens and lawns and deer/vehicle accidents. Opening this property to hunting will help manage the local deer population.

What is a Wildlife Management Area?

Wildlife Management Areas are state lands that are managed specifically for wildlife habitat and wildlife-related recreation and education. DEC's Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources manages them with funding provided by the federal Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson) Act, which places an excise tax on firearms and hunting equipment, and New York State's Conservation Fund, generated through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, as well as the Environmental Protection Fund and general funds.

WMAs provide unique opportunities for the public to interact with a wide variety of wildlife species. Many outdoor recreational activities are allowed at WMAs, including hunting, trapping, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, bird watching, wildlife photography and nature observation. As with other WMAs in New York State, hunting and trapping will be allowed on the proposed Baxtertown WMA but will continue to be prohibited on the SKFEEC property.

Impacts to the Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center Property

This reclassification applies only to the Baxtertown property and will not impact the farming, education or recreational activities at the SKFEEC property.

Limitations on Hunting for the Proposed WMA

In recognition of the residential areas on the southern and eastern edges of the WMA, DEC recommends "no-firearm-discharge zone" signs wherever applicable. This recommendation is based on state law dictating that discharge of a firearm is prohibited within 500 feet of a dwelling without permission of the owner or occupant. Additionally, DEC has adequately marked the boundary between SKFEEC lands and the WMA to prevent any inadvertent trespass by hunters and trappers.

Firearm Restrictions for the Proposed WMA

Since the use of rifles is prohibited in Dutchess County, the use of rifles will be prohibited at the proposed Baxtertown WMA. DEC recommends allowing deer hunting with archery equipment (long bows and crossbows) only. Shotguns and archery equipment will be permitted for small game, waterfowl, furbearer and turkey hunting on the property. DEC Forest Rangers will enforce regulations associated with the proposed WMA.

Managing Hunter Distribution and Density

Controlling hunter density and distribution is one of the most important aspects of any hunting program. Distributing hunters appropriately throughout hunting areas helps provide a better experience for participating hunters and limits the potential for conflicts between different types of recreational users.

Typically, DEC uses limited parking availability to regulate hunter density on WMAs in southeastern New York. Based on DEC's experience in managing similar small WMAs in relatively populated areas, and because of the proposed archery-only restriction for deer hunting at this WMA, DEC recommends providing a total of six parking spaces divided among three, widely spaced two-car parking areas. This would ensure good user distribution throughout the WMA. It also would result in a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors, while maximizing access to a part of the region where demand for hunting opportunities is high and public land is limited.

The map shows the proposed locations of the parking spaces. They include a two-car parking area on Cynwyd Drive, a two-car parking area on Baxtertown Road, approximately 0.8 mile west of the intersection with Osborne Hill Road (County Rte. 35), and a two-car parking area on Baxtertown Road, approximately 0.8 mile east of the intersection with Rte. 9D. These spaces will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please submit questions to:

Nate Ermer
21 South Putt Corners Road
New Paltz, NY 12561
e-mail: nmermer@gw.dec.state.ny.us