Keeney Swamp State Forest
- Open for Recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 9 Almond Office: 585-466-3241 (M-F, 8:00AM - 4:00PM); firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emergency, Law Enforcement & Rangers: 518-408-5850 or 911
- Location: Towns of Birdsall and Grove, Allegany County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 9P
- Map: Keeney Swamp State Forest Map || Same Map in PDF (206 KB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
Keeney Swamp State Forest covers a total of 2,408 acres and also borders the 708-acre Keeney Swamp Wildlife Management Area (WMA). It is part of a natural wetland complex that lies in the headwaters of Black Creek. Keeney Swamp is the only place in Allegany County (and one of only a handful of places in western New York State) where balsam fir occurs naturally. There are no designated trails but hiking is allowed throughout the property.
Remains of stone fireplace at Birdsall CCC Camp, S-117
General information on paddling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
Paddling is popular along Black Creek and on the beaver ponds that are on the property.
Hunting & Trapping
Hunting and trapping are allowed throughout the property. Be sure to abide by all state regulations.
General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules and regulations.
Fishing is popular along Black Creek and in many of the beaver ponds on the property. Be sure to abide by all fishing regulations.
General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
At-large backcountry camping is allowed throughout the property. Campsites must be at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail, or body of water. Camping for more than three nights or in groups of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.
Please note that camping is allowed on Keeney Swamp State Forest but NOT on the neighboring Keeney Swamp WMA.
General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
New York State Snowmobile Corridor Trail 3D passes through Keeney Swamp State Forest.
General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.
The state forest and neighboring WMA together comprise the 3,116-acre Keeney Swamp Bird Conservation Area. The New York Bird Conservation Area (BCA) Program was established in 1997 to safeguard and enhance bird populations and their habitats on state lands and waters. The BCA Program integrates bird conservation interests into agency planning, management and research projects.
With the large variety of cover types and wetland areas, Keeney Swamp State Forest hosts an unusually wide variety of bird species. For several years the forest was home to a nesting colony of great blue herons, somewhat unique in that the Rookery was located in a red pine plantation.
From Interstate 86, take exit 34N and head north on Route 36. After 6.8 miles, turn left onto Route 70 and continue for 5.6 miles, then turn left onto County Route 15B. In 1.3 miles, turn right at the fork onto County Route 15A, then in 3.8 miles turn left onto Fitch Hill Spur Forest Road. This will take you first through Keeney Swamp WMA and will lead to Keeney Swamp State Forest. The state forest can also be accessed from County Routes 15B and 16. Fitch Hill Road runs between County Routes 15B and 16 and connects to several state forest roads.
All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.
- Fitch Hill Spur Forest Road parking area on neighboring Keeney Swamp WMA (42.421365°N, 77.907359°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
- County Route 15A parking area, with capacity for 10 cars or 5 cars with trailers (42.429915°N, 77.91644°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety
Practice Leave No Trace principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.
How We Manage Keeney Swamp State Forest
DEC is developing a management plan which will describe the management activities for these lands. In addition to management objectives, the UMP will contain detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.
The swamp is named after an early resident, Fred Keeney, who operated a sawmill and owned extensive property in the area. Much of the swamp was drained and cultivated for a time, but eventually the farmland was abandoned and became flooded once again thanks in large part to the local beaver population.
In the 1930s, Keeney Swamp 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 constructing roads and planting thousands of pine and spruce trees in the abandoned fields on the upland areas of the property. The Birdsall CCC camp, S-117, was located on this state forest along what is now County Route 16.
The former Pittsburg, Shawmut and Northern Railroad passed through the eastern portion of the state forest and the adjacent WMA. This railroad ran from St. Mary's, PA to Perkinsville, NY. Abandoned in 1947, the elevated railroad embankment running through the swamp has provided a handy starting point for numerous beaver dams.
The forest cover types on Keeney Swamp State Forest are a mixture of native hardwoods, native conifers and planted conifers. The upland slopes are primarily hardwood species such as sugar maple, white ash, red maple and beech. Considerable amounts of native hemlock and balsam fir grow along the edges of the wetland areas. The old fields were planted with a variety of conifer species, including red pine, Scotch pine, white pine, larch and spruce.
Wetlands at Keeney Swamp State Forest
The hardwood stands are managed through a series of thinnings which remove the lower quality trees and give more growing space to the best quality trees. The hardwood tops are generally left in place to rot and recycle their nutrients back into the soil. The decaying tops also provide bedding and nesting cover for wildlife such as white-tailed deer and wild turkeys.
Periodic thinnings in the red pine plantations have allowed the native hardwoods to seed into the sunlit openings. Many of the pine stands have reached maturity and the remaining overstory is now being removed to allow the hardwoods to grow to maturity. These "early-successional" hardwood stands provide an important habitat component for a variety of songbird species, as well as ruffed grouse and woodcock.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
State Lands and Facilities
- Keeney Swamp Wildlife Management Area
- Gas Springs State Forest
- Gillies Hill State Forest
- Hiltonville State Forest
- Jersey Hill State Forest
- English Hill State Forest
Gas can be found in the nearby communities of Canaseraga and Hornell.
Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Canaseraga and Hornell.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Angelica, Canaseraga and Hornell.
Lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Angelica and Hornell.
Allegany County Tourism (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.
Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.
Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.
Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.