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Panama State Forest

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Panama State Forest (Chautauqua #4) spans 1,224 acres in the town of Harmony, located south of Panama in the southwestern portion of Chautauqua County. This forest offers numerous recreational opportunities and provides habitat to a variety of wildlife species.


In the 1930s, Panama State Forest was the site of many work projects carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC. The CCCs, established by the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, provided employment opportunities for young men during the depression. CCC projects within Panama State Forest included the planting of thousands of pine and spruce trees in the forest's open areas.

Field Notes

Panama State Forest is home to various wildlife species, including white tail deer, ruffed grouse, rabbit, raccoon, and turkey. There are also occasional fox, mink and bear sightings. The abundance of different habitat types created by forestry management within the property make Panama State Forest an ideal location for wildlife viewing. The forest also provides habitat for a variety of songbirds, especially near heavily harvested areas where there is thick seedling-sapling cover.

Timber Management

view of woods in Panama State ForestHardwood and conifer timber management is actively practiced at Panama State Forest. The forest's 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. These thinnings provide openings of 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 more growing space. This 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. While some stands contain large trees and give an illusion of old growth, these stands were actually harvested prior to state ownership.


Panama State Forest signPanama State Forest is a perfect setting for numerous outdoor recreational activities, including picnicking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and birdwatching.


The forest is traversed by the Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail. The trail corridor navigates the State's various woodlots and access trails. Only bicycles, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are allowed on the trail; motor vehicles are not allowed.1.2 miles of the Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail trail within Panama State Forest are maintained by the Parks Division of Chautauqua County's Department of Public Works. Organizers of trail events need to obtain a Temporary Revocable Permit for use of the trails prior to the event. These can be obtained at the Dunkirk DEC Office at 716-363-2052.

Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Can be done on the Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail, or any part of the property.


Hunting is allowed within Panama State Forest, which is part of the 9J Wildlife Management Unit. When hunting, please be sure to abide by all applicable game laws.

Access for People with Disabilities

There are five access roads off of Goshen Road that make Panama State Forest accessible to hunters with disabilities. Special use permits can be obtaining by contacting the Dunkirk DEC office by phone at (716) 363-2052 . With this permit designated roads can be accessed using motor vehicles. Otherwise these access roads are closed to public traffic.

State Forest Regulations

State lands belong to all of us. Please help care for this area and enhance your experience and the experience of those who follow for by observing these simple guidelines.

Driving Directions

From Panama, take County Route 10 west 1 mile to Goshen Road. Proceed south approximately 0.5 miles. Panama State Forest will be on both sides of the road as indicated by signs.

Important Numbers

State Forest Office (M-F 8-4 p.m.): (716) 363-2052
Forest Ranger (Evenings, Weekends and Holidays): (716) 771-7180
Emergencies: 911