Turkey Hill State Forest
- Primitive Camping
- Informal Hiking
- Nature Photography/Observation
Turkey Hill State Forest encompasses 1,108 acres, and is located in the towns of Berkshire and Richford in the northeastern tip of Tioga County. It is a popular area for recreational activities such as hunting, trapping, snowmobiling, bird watching, and nature viewing .Turkey Hill State Forest currently provides 2.0 mile of snowmobile trails. There is an additional 1.3 miles of recreational access provided by the Public Forest Access Road that cuts through the southern portion of the forest.
Wildlife viewing is also popular at this state forest. Early successional seedling/ sapling sized forest provides critical habitat for a suite of birds that require young, dense vegetation for breeding, nesting, and foraging. The list of birds that inhabit the forest include: the ruffed grouse, American woodcock, white-throated sparrow, American goldfinch, Rufous-sided towhee, chestnut sided warbler, yellow warbler, blue-winged warbler, white-eyed vireo, alder flycatcher, willow flycatcher, least flycatcher, hermit thrush, brown thrasher, indigo bunting, gray catbird and ,of course, the wild turkey after which the forest was named.
Mammals such as the red fox, gray fox, white tailed deer, eastern cottontail, woodland vole, eastern chipmunk, woodchuck, southern bog lemming and the meadow jumping mouse can all be found thriving within the early successional forest habitat. There are also 24 species of reptiles and amphibians confirmed or predicted in the area, including the red back salamander, pickerel frog and the painted turtle.
Most of the land encompassing what is today known as Turkey Hill State Forest was purchased during the 1930s. Prior to this point, the land had been cleared of the natural vegetation and used for agriculture by early European settlers and Revolutionary War Veterans. However, soils common in the area have major limitations for intensive crop production, including a seasonally high water table, low fertility, moderate to high acidity, and erodibility on steep slopes. Early farmers quickly learned that the combination of long, harsh winters and thin, fine textured upland soils would not support intensive agriculture. As such, many of the farmlands were abandoned as farmers sought more fertile land in the Midwest.
Fortunately, the State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931 set forth the legislation that authorized the Conservation Department (predecessor to the Department of Environmental Conservation) to acquire land, by gift or purchase, for reforestation areas. These state forests, consisting of no less than 500 acres of contiguous land outside the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, were to be "forever devoted to reforestation and the establishment and maintenance thereon." Management is defined as including watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, recreation and kindred purposes. (Article 9, Titles 5 and 7, Environmental Conservation Law). Today, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) oversees the management of the lands acquired, including Turkey Hill State Forest, which now provides diverse ecological, economic, and recreational services for the people of New York State.
Seemingly solitary and uninhabited, Turkey Hill State Forest is a great place to experience the look and feel of an undeveloped managed forest. The landscape of the area is a dense mosaic of different cover types, including oak, red pine, and spruce. However, the ice storm that hit the area in 2003 also created plenty of early successional habitat for plants and animals to flourish in.
In the future, Turkey Hill State Forest will be part of the Rockefeller Unit Management Plan. A Unit Management Plan (UMP) guides the DEC's land management activities on several geographically related forests for a ten-year period, although a number of goals and objectives in the plan focus on a much longer time period. Each UMP addresses specific objectives and actions for public use and forest management.
Turkey Hill State Forest may be accessed by taking NY Route 38 toward Richford, then turn onto NY Route 79 east. Travel about 1 mile until Hog Hollow Road, and turn right. Continue approximately 0.7 miles, then turn left onto Tubbs Hill Road which bisects the forest. A Public Forest Access Road can be reached from Tubbs Hill Road.
State Land Regulations
- Do not litter. Carry out what you carry in. Burying of refuse is prohibited.
- If you build a fire, do so with care and use wood from dead and downed trees only. Never leave a fire unattended. Three foot radius must be cleared around fire.
- All motorized vehicles are restricted to access roads posted as motor vehicle trails. Off road use of motorized vehicles, such as, trail bikes and four-wheel drives is not allowed, except where specifically permitted by signs, posted notice or by DEC Permit.
- Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of water, roads or trail.
- Permanent structures, including tree stands or blinds, are not allowed.
State Forest Office (M-F 8 am-4 pm): 607-753-3095 ext. 217
Forest Ranger (Law Enforcement/Emergencies): 607-798-1797
DEC State Forest Ranger Dispatch: 518-408-5850