West Osceola State Forest
West Osceola State Forest (Oswego-Lewis #1) encompasses 1,900 acres of forested landscape in the town of Redfield in Northeastern Oswego County. Activities such as hunting, trapping and snowmobiling are best suited for the remote and primitive nature of this state forest.
As with the majority of other state forests, the land that now encompasses West Osceola State Forest was originally purchased for reforestation by the State of New York during the 1930s. Prior to this, the landscape was comprised of a diverse matrix of crop lands, open fields, forest, meadows and homesteads. Unfortunately, the upland soils of the Tug Hill Plateau are characteristically rocky, highly acidic, and steep. Combined with intense winters common to the region, the fact that many farmers abandoned their properties in pursuit better lands in the mid-West is understandable.
The State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931 provided legislation which authorized the Department of Conservation to acquire land, by gift or purchase, for reforestation areas. These State Forests, consisting of no less than 500 acres of contiguous land, were to be "forever devoted to reforestation and the establishment and maintenance thereon of forests for watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, and kindred purposes" (Article 9, Title 5, Environmental Conservation Law).
West Osceola State Forest was purchased during the 1930's under this program and has been intensely managed to promote forest health, timber production, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. Through the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), who planted thousands of softwood tree seedlings on the newly acquired state lands, the landscape in West Osceola State Forest has been restored to thick woodland; it provides a myriad of economic, ecological and recreational services to hundreds of people each year.
The cover types within West Osceola State Forest consist mainly of mature natural hardwood and northern hardwood-hemlock cover types, including species such as red maple, black cherry, white ash, sugar maple, American beech, yellow birch, red oak and hemlock. The conifer plantations planted by the CCC during the 1930s and 1950s can also be found throughout the property, consisting of mainly white pine, red pine, larch and spruce.
The secluded and remote setting of this property provides incredible hunting and trapping opportunities. Wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, deer, weasel, fox, coyote, muskrat and rabbit are all abundant.
The East Branch of the Salmon River, as well as Prince Brook, meander through the trees. Both provide ample opportunities for observing a diversity of nature and wildlife. For example, amphibians and reptiles flourish in this area, including the marbled salamander, red-spotted newt, eastern painted turtle, common snapping turtle, rat snake and five-lined skink.
Trout fishing can also prove to be extremely rewarding, and a day spent by the bank of either stream will be a day well spent.
The responsibility of managing State Forests to enhance and maintain a diverse and healthy forest ecosystem for both society and wildlife falls to DEC Foresters. These staff strategically employ forest management to develop a balanced mix of young, middle-aged, and old (late successional) forest types that will continue to benefit New Yorkers for many generations to come. Land management actions will be guided by the Upper Salmon River Unit Management Plan once completed.
West Osceola State Forest currently has a section of a snowmobile trail within its boundaries.
***Stay Safe- Bring A Friend When Out In The Forest***
From NY I-81 Take Exit #36, then follow NY RT 13 toward Williamstown. Make a left onto County Route 17 and proceed north until the intersection with CO RT 27, go straight through onto Waterbury Road. Follow Waterbury until Fox Road, make a right. Parking is available off of Fox Road, or you may continue until Redfield Road and make a left, parking areas are available off the road.
State Forest Regulations
Anyone enjoying the use of this State Forest must observe the following rules which protect them and the forest environment:
- 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): 315-298-7467
Forest Ranger (Law Enforcement/Emergencies): 315-625-7261
DEC State Forest Ranger Dispatch: 518-408-5850