Brokenstraw State Forest
Brokenstraw State Forest (Chautauqua #8) totals 951 acres and is located in the southwestern area of Chautauqua County in the towns of Harmony and Clymer, south of Panama. Brokenstraw State Forest provides opportunities for many informal outdoor recreational activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and hunting. It also serves as a source of raw material for New York's forest products industry which provides employment and income for many New Yorkers and provides for various habitats for many wildlife species such as deer, rabbit, grouse and turkey.
In the 1930s Brokenstraw State Forest was the site of many work projects carried out 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 the abandoned agricultural land on the property.
Brokenstraw State Forest is home to a variety of wildlife species, including white tail deer, ruffed grouse, raccoon, and turkey. Fox, mink, and bear are occasionally sighted. The abundance of different habitat types created by forestry management of the area make this an ideal area for wildlife sightings. The forest also hosts a variety of songbirds that can be found especially in heavily harvested areas where there is thick seedling-sapling cover.
Timber management is practiced at Brokenstraw State Forest. The existing stands of pine and spruce were planted in old farm fields as they need open areas with direct sunlight to thrive. The stands are usually managed by a series of partial harvest thinnings, which encourage the natural regeneration of native hardwoods by providing openings for sunlight. Removal of the conifer overstory in the final harvest enables the hardwood seedlings to grow to maturity.
Hardwood trees are not usually planted as they spread vast amounts of seed and naturally regenerate. 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. Some stands will contain large trees, giving an illusion of old growth; these stands were actually harvested prior to state ownership.
Brokenstraw State Forest offers many recreational opportunities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, picnicking and cross-country skiing. The Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail traverses the state forest. 1.4 miles of trail within Brokenstraw State Forest are maintained by Chautauqua County Department of Public Works Parks Division. The trail corridor navigates the State's various woodlots and access trails. Bicycles, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are allowed on the trail only, no motor vehicles. The parking lot for trail use is located off County Route 23(Weeks Road) on Brokenstraw Forest Road, the trail head is to the east. Hunting is allowed on the property; and Brokenstraw State Forest is part of the 9J unit, be sure to abide by all game laws in affect through the NYS DEC.
Organized trail events need to have their coordinators 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.
Hunting is allowed on the unit, just be sure to abide by all applicable game laws.
Guidelines for Use of State Land
State lands belong to all of us. Help care for this area and enhance the enjoyment of it for yourself and those who follow by observing these simple guidelines.
From Panama take County Route 10 west 2 miles to County Route 23 (Weeks Road). Proceed south on Weeks Road approximately 3 miles to the parking lot on Brokenstraw Forest Road. Brokenstraw Forest Road runs east through this state forest providing good access to a majority of the property for outdoor activities.
Important Phone Numbers
State Forest Office (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.): 716-363-2052
Forest Ranger (Evenings, Weekends and Holidays): 716-771-7180