Hill Higher State Forest
Hill Higher State Forest (Chautauqua #13) totals 1,156 acres, and is located in the town of Harmony, south of the village of Panama in the south central part of Chautauqua County. This forest provides opportunities for many outdoor recreational activities and is home to a variety of wildlife species.
In the 1930s, the land occupied by this state forest was purchased by the people of New York State for the purposes of timber production, recreational use, watershed protection, and wildlife habitat. In the 1930s, the Hill Higher State Forest was the focus of numerous projects by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC, established by the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, provided employment opportunities for young men during the depression. CCC projects included the construction of roads and the planting of thousands of pine and spruce trees in open areas on the property.
Numerous wildlife species can be found in Hill Higher State Forest, including white tail deer, ruffed grouse, rabbit, and turkey.
The forest is also a source of raw material for New York's forest products industry which provides employment and income for many New Yorkers. Conifer and hardwood timber management is practiced within this forest. The conifer stands of pine and spruce were planted in old farm fields as they need open areas with direct sunlight to thrive. They are usually managed by a series of partial harvest thinnings, which provide openings for sunlight to encourage natural regeneration of native hardwoods. The removal of the conifer overstory in the final harvest allows the hardwood seedlings to grow to maturity.
Hardwood trees are not usually planted as they spread vast amounts of seed and regenerate naturally. Periodic thinning of the forest through the sale of forest products gives the residual trees adequate growing space. This practice helps to keep the forest healthy and provides openings for new seedlings, a revolving supply of food and cover for wildlife, and source of future crop trees. Some hardwood stands contain large trees, giving an illusion of old growth. These stands were actually harvested prior to state ownership.
There are no designated hiking or snowmobile trails on the property. There are three hunting access trails for people with disabilities that follow the gas well road access, however, these are for use by permit only. Coordinators of organized trail events need to obtain a Temporary Revocable Permit for use of the trails prior to the event. These can be obtained through DEC's Dunkirk Office at 716-363-2052.
Hunting is allowed on this property, you must abide by all New York State hunting regulations. There is also opportunity for hunters with disabilities under the non-ambulatory hunter program to access specific roads on the state forest. Special use permits can be obtained by contacting the Dunkirk DEC office by phone at (716) 363-252 . With this permit designated roads can be accessed using motor vehicles. Otherwise these access roads are closed to public traffic.
Tips for Using State Forests
State lands belong to all of us. Please Help care for this area and enhance the enjoyment of it for yourself and those who follow by observing these simple guidelines.
To reach Hill Higher State Forest, take County Route 33 south from the village of Panama 2.2 miles to Wilcox Road. Proceed east on Wilcox Road 1 mile to the gate on Hill Higher Forest Road.
State Forest Office (Monday -Friday, 8-4 p.m.): 716-363-2052
Forest Ranger (Evenings, Weekends and Holidays): 716-771-7180