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Boyce Hill State Forest

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Boyce Hill State Forest locator map

Boyce Hill State Forest, also known as Cattaraugus Reforestation Area # 20, is a small state forest of 971 acres. This state forest is located in Cattaraugus County in the Town of Franklinville. Hunting, hiking, snowmobile riding and horseback riding are the most common recreational uses of this area.

State Forests are managed for multiple uses. They provide a source of raw material for New York's forest products industry, which generates employment and income for many New Yorkers. They are managed for wildlife so that species such as deer, rabbit, grouse and turkey may thrive in various habitats. They are also managed to provide recreational opportunities and to protect watersheds.

History

View from Jackson Road, leading to the state forest
View from Jackson Road leading to
state forest

In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, carried out various projects at Boyce Hill State Forest. The CCC, established by the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, provided employment opportunities for young men during the Great Depression. Projects included the planting of thousands of pine, larch and spruce trees in the open areas on the property. This work was labor intensive and included some follow up care. According to local stories, local residents were hired during dry summers to water individual trees using a water tank mounted on a wagon.

This State forest was mostly farm land and open field at one time. A house and barn used to be located at the end of Jackson Forest Road, near the present turn around. Another homestead site was located adjacent to this, near a natural spring lined with stone that still exists today. According to map records and existing evidence, there were two other houses with barns located along Bryant Hill Road and Phillips Road.

In addition, natural gas lines that predate state ownership cross the property.

Field Notes

A pond at the end of Jackson Forest Road in Boyce Hill State Forest
A pond at the end of Jackson Forest Road
in Boyce Hill State Forest

Boyce Hill State Forest is home to a variety of wildlife. Boyce Hill also contains a variety of tree sizes and species.

Wildlife

Portions of Boyce Hill State Forest have been managed to provide early succession forest habitat to benefit wildlife like ruffed grouse and white tail deer. Management for variable forest habitats will continue. A pond at the end of Jackson Forest Road is the primary aquatic habitat on this property.

Timber Management

Conifer - Stands of pine were planted in old farm fields because they need open areas with direct sunlight to thrive. These will be converted to hardwoods by removing the conifer overstory and allowing the hardwood seedlings that naturally exist in these stands to grow. Conifers planted by CCC have now reached maturity and are gradually blowing over. Mechanical harvesting of conifer species such as spruce and pine are ongoing projects.

A partnership between Ellicottville BOCES and NYSDEC foresters offers one example of an ongoing conifer management project. Students in the BOCES conservation class learn firsthand about logging operations, tree felling techniques, and equipment operation. The logs from these projects are utilized in the school sawmill. This project will continue to be an educational tool for many area youth considering a career in logging, forestry management or conservation.

Another example of a conifer management project is a large conifer clear cut, which can be seen from Jackson Forest Road. This area was an old farm field planted with red pine in the 1940s. The red pine did not grow well on the site, but hardwood seedlings in the understory canopy thrived. The red pine created conditions favorable for these hardwood seedlings to grow by changing the top layer of soil from the type one would find in a grassy old field to that of a soil more favorable to hardwoods. Regeneration projects such as this take time. If you have time, walk into this clear cut and see what is growing in the new forest.

Lastly, an unusual example of conifer type forest management can be seen on Bryant Hill Road across from the Wenrick Hill Road intersection. This area was once a Norway spruce plantation that was planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1940-50 era. The stand of trees was harvested for lumber and now new seedlings of Black Cherry and Norway spruce can be seen if you walk into the harvest area. The existence of the Norway spruce seedlings is rare after a Norway spruce plantation is harvested. Usually this type of area is expected to only grow natural hardwood seedlings like Black Cherry, Aspen, Red Maple, and Ash because so much sun light hitting the forest floor dries out the existing small Norway spruce seedlings. In this case, some Norway spruce seedlings were able to grow due to some unknown environmental factor. If you look out into the harvest area you can spot the Norway spruce trees among the other trees and shrubs that are now growing on the site. This area is now a young forest that will provide habitat for Ruffed Grouse and Turkey and provide forage for White Tailed deer. The Norway spruce seedlings will provide cover for rabbits and other small game as well.

Fun tree facts: May people commonly refer to Spruce trees as "Pines," and in fact pines and spruce are closely related trees. Both have green needles and most species are cultivated for Christmas tree stock. The most common way to identify pine is to observe its needles. Pine tree needles are arranged in clusters with 2, 3 or 5 needles per cluster. Spruce and fir have needles attached individually to the branches.

Hardwood - Hardwood trees are not usually planted as they spread vast amounts of seed and naturally regenerate. Thinning 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 a source of future crop trees.

Some stands contain large trees, giving an illusion of old growth, but in almost all cases they are not old growth. These stands were harvested prior to state ownership or managed during state ownership to favor large trees. Many other stands are mature and ready to bring forth the next generation of trees. This is usually done by thinning to promote regeneration of new seedlings, followed by an overstory removal.

A good example of hardwood regeneration can be seen in the stand of trees located off the end of the Jackson Forest Road loop. This hardwood stand was regenerated in stages, with cuts spread out over a long period of time. An ice storm many years ago did heavy damage to most large trees in this stand. These were salvaged and then the stand was later thinned by selling the poor quality stems in all size classes as fuel wood. The cutter was also required to cut trees that were too small for firewood. Only the better stems were retained. Forest stands that are dominated by species that require direct sunlight for reproduction can be managed in this way. Forest stands that contain oak species may require the use of fire or other types of disturbance to maintain this forest type. Oak species are rare on this state forest.

North Country Trail
North Country Trail

Recreation

Boyce Hill State Forest offers many opportunities for recreational enjoyment.

Hiking

The North Country trail crosses this property. It connects Rt 242 and Jackson Forest Road. The trail passes by the pond at the end of Jackson Road. The Finger Lakes Trail Club and Foothills Trail Club have adopted this trail.

Camping

camping logoThere is one designated camp site on this state forest along the Finger Lakes Trail system. It is near the pond at the end of Jackson forest Road. This is a primative tent camp site. There is also one lean-to along the Finger Lakes Trail, a general location can be seen on the map links at the top of the page.

You may camp elsewhere but it must be 150 feet away from a road, stream, or waterbody or trail. If you have ten or more people, or plan on staying more than three nights you need to obtain a camp permit from a Forest Ranger. The contact numbers are at the bottom of this page.


Lean To on Finger Lakes Trail


Snowmobiling

A snowmobile trail enters and leaves the property in two locations. The Cattaraugus Snowmobile Federation has adopted this trail.

Hunting, trapping and fishing

Forest management has created a variety of habitats suitable for hunting. Hunting and trapping are permitted on the property in accordance with all game regulations, unless otherwise posted. Traps may not be set on public road right of ways. Body gripping traps set on land must be at least 100 feet from public trails. Fishing is not a major activity on these lands, but the pond may provide some opportunity for fishing. More information can be obtained from your local DEC office by calling 716-372-0645.



Skiing and snowshoeing

All trails may be used for these activities.

Mountain biking

This is not a major activity on this property. There are no designated trails.

Horseback Riding

A horse trail adopted by Creekside Roundup makes a loop on the property. The trail starts at the end of Jackson Forest road and it is marked with yellow trail markers. The trail has very minimal maintinance so downed limbs may be a porblem at times. Parking is at the end of Jackson Forest Road where the turn around is. The trail makes a loop on the property and comes back out onto upper Jackson Forest road, where riders need to follow the road back to the turn around parking area to complete the loop. The trail can be ridden in either direction. The general location of the trail can be found in the map link above.

All trails are planned to minimize impacts to the forest environment and to not conflict with other management objectives while providing a pleasant and interesting ride.

Organized trail events require a Temporary Revocable Permit for use of the trails prior to the event. These can be obtained at the Dunkirk Forestry Office at 716-363-2052.

Geo-caching

Geo-caching is allowed, although caches must be marked with the owner's contact information and may not be placed in dangerous or ecologically sensitive locations. See the February 2005 article in Conservationist Magazine for more information on geo-caching.

Access for People with Disabilities

An accessible trail exists at the end of Jackson Forest Road. However, the trail is sometimes in poor condition. This trail is ATV hunting only, no four wheel drive trucks are allowd. It is open for fall deer season from October 1 - December 30th.

Individuals with disabilities can apply for a Motorized Access Permit (MAPPWD) to use a motor vehicle on designated roads. The permit is available from the Accessible Recreation page by clicking the MAPPWD link in the right column. Also more information can be obtained by calling the Allegany Office at 716-372-0645.

Tips for Using State Forests

Anyone enjoying this property must observe rules which protect both people and the forest environment.

Directions

From Franklinville take County Road 17 west. Go straight on Bryant Hill Road for the south end of the property, or go around the bend and follow County Road 17 (Bakerstand Road) west to Jackson Road. Jackson Forest Road may be accessed through the yellow gate near the end CR 17. From Rt 242, take Phillips Road near Devereaux.

Important Numbers

Allegany DEC Forestry Office (M-F 8-4 p.m.): 716-372-0645

For emergencies, search and rescue, wildfire, or state land rules and regulation enforcement, call a Forest Ranger:

(716)771-7191
(716)771-7199
(716)771-7156

Or you can reach the Forest Ranger general dispatch number at: (877) 457-5680

General Emergencies: 911