Bush Hill State Forest
Bush Hill State Forest is about 3,278 acres and is located in Cattaraugus County in the Towns of Farmersville and Lyndon. This forestry unit provides many outdoor recreational opportunities, but the most common uses are hunting and hiking.
State Forests are managed for multiple uses. They provide a source of raw material for New York's forest products industry which provides employment and income for many New Yorkers. They are managed for wildlife by the creation and maintenance of various habitats for many wildlife species such as deer, rabbit, grouse, turkey and songbirds. Forests are also managed to provide recreational opportunities and watershed protection.
The North Country Scenic Trail passes through this unit and it is maintained by the Finger Lakes Trial Association. The trail crosses Bush Hill State Forest from Harwood Lake and travels East roughly parallel with the Fox Cross Forest Road and exits the property on Stebbins Road. Trail location may vary due to timber harvesting. Please see the Finger Lakes Trail offsite link in the right column for more information.
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 by contacting the Dunkirk DEC Office at 716-363-2052.
Nine camp sites are available at a first come first serve basis along Fox Cross Forest Road, One camp site on Palmer Road, and one camp site on Peet hill road; they are tent sites only. You are allowed to build a small fire using dead and down wood only. Sites are designated with a yellow, round camp marker sign (see photo below). The map links at the top of the page show the general locations of these sites. The sites are primative tent sites with a firering, and one parking space. Roadside camping in this area is only allowed at these sites, anywhere else on the property you can camp 150 feet away from a road, trail, or water body. If you have 10 or more people or are camping for more than three days you need obtain a permit from the forest ranger (see numbers listed at the Bottom of this page).
Hunting is allowed on Bush Hill State Forests. Naturally occurring forest disturbance and active forest management on the forest has created some diverse wildlife habitats. Forest roads that were built as a result of timber harvesting operations provide good access for hunting. Fishing is not a major use of this area but can be found at Harwood Lake Multiple Use Area which is adjacent to Bush Hill State Forest.
Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
The North Country Scenic Trial can be used for snowshoeing and skiing.
In the 1930s Bush Hill was the site of many work projects carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps or 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, larch, and spruce trees in the open areas on this property.
Some conifer trees were planted by school children on the former Union Free School district #1 property around 1939. This property was located somewhere north of the Clark Road and is now part of state ownership. This plantation area was supposed to be set aside as a "School Forest." Today there is no way to tell which trees these might be or even if they still exist.
Water holes were constructed by the CCC to provide water for fire protection of young plantations and in some cases to water trees. Some of these rock-lined water holes still exist on this unit. A nice example that can be visited today is a water hole with stone steps that is located near the Hardy Corners Road log landing.
Most of this property was cleared farm land at some time in the past, before state ownership. The remains of old stone foundations for houses and barns, and rock lined water wells are all the evidence that can be found of these today.
Maple syrup production was a common farm activity in this area. The remains of "sugar arches" that were used to make maple syrup can be found in some parts of the forest. These consisted of large metal pans built over a rock base and a wood fire was built under the pan to boil sap, some of these old rock bases can be seen today in this forest.
Clark Road provides grassy edges for chick
rearing habitat for turkey and grouse.
This area has been managed to provide a large amount of young forest habitat. New aspen stands that will provide grouse habitat are located off the Fox Cross Forest Road. Other mixed stands of hardwood (Maples, Ash, Black Cherry, and Oaks) and conifer (Spruces and Pines) are nearing the stage where the stand canopy will soon fill in and shade the understory. Forest stands have been recently cut on this state forest, making young forests consisting of mixed hardwood and conifer that are just beginning to grow. After these young stands begin to mature, more forest blocks will be cut to create new young forest stands. This type of forest management ensures a variety of habitats are available for wildlife while keeping lumber production economically and ecologically sustainable. Some wildlife that might be seen on the unit are White Tailed Deer, Grouse, Turkey, Fox, Squirrel and Coyote.
Conifer - The stands of pine, larch and spruce were planted in old farm fields as they need open areas with direct sunlight to thrive. These have been, or will be converted to hardwood tree species by harvesting of the conifer overstory and allowing the hardwood seedlings ( Maple, Ash, Cherry, and Oaks) that usually exist in these stands to grow to maturity. Many of the conifer stands on this unit are at a high risk of blowing down in storm events because the trees are tall and mature. These trees that were planted by the CCC's have served their purpose, which was to reduce erosion and to get old farm fields into timber production as quickly as possible. Now these stands must be harvested to allow room for naturally occurring hardwoods to dominate the site.
Hardwood - Hardwood trees are not usually planted as they spread vast amounts of seed and naturally regenerate. 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, but are not in almost all cases. These stands have been harvested prior to state ownership or managed during state ownership to favor large trees. Many of these hardwood stands on this property are mature and ready to be regenerated to new young trees. This is usually done by a thinning which promotes regeneration of new seedlings by allowing in ample light and increased growing space available. Then in a few years when regeneration is adequate, it is followed by an overstory removal of the larger trees that were left in the previous harvest. Forest stands that are dominated by species that require direct sunlight (Black Cherry and Yellow Poplar) for reproduction are 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 since acorn sprouting is tricky and requires the right soil characteristics to germinate.
State Forest Regulations
State lands belong to all of us, so please help care for this area and enhance the enjoyment of it for yourself and those who follow by observing these simple rules.
From Franklinville follow Route 98 east to Bush Hill Road; this is a right turn. Turn right on Peet Hill Road for access to Fox Cross Forest Road and the North Country Trail on Bush Hill State Forest or continue on Bush Hill Road to the trail head parking lot on Farmersville State Forest. Other roads that access Bush Hill State Forest are Palmer Road, Clark Road (seasonal road access from the west end only), County Road 46 (Hardy Corners Road), Stebbins Road, Peet Hill Road and Bush Hill Road.
Allegany DEC Forest Office (M-F 8:30am-4 p.m.): 716-372-0645
Questions about emergencies, search and rescue, wildfire, or state land rules and regulation enforcement may be directed to a Forest Ranger:
Or you can reach the Forest Ranger general dispatch number at: 1-877-457-5680
General Emergencies: 911