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Lowville Forestry Demonstration Area

State Reforestation Area Lewis 46

Lowville Demonstration Nature Trail Brochure

Lowville Demonstration Area locator map

The Demonstration Area Nature Trail is located on 98 acres at the former Lowville Tree Nursery. This Nursery was in operation from approximately 1923 to 1971, when the last seedlings were shipped out. The Nursery employed approximately ten permanent and around 100 temporary men and women. A total of 530 million seedlings were produced during the 48 years of operation. Seedling production was moved to Saratoga, N.Y. in 1971.

Many remnants of the nursery are still visible, including: the Superintendents home - which now is the NYS DEC Region 6 Sub-Office, the Bunkhouse - which was where temporary workers at the Nursery slept, the Refrigeration Building which was where the seedlings were kept before shipping to keep them cool, the pump house which is located across the road and was used to pump water up from the Black River for irrigation purposes, the Packing Shed - is now the auto and maintenance shop, and the Nursery Office Building - is now the Operations Office.

Trees shipped out from the former Nursery in the early years, were used primarily in Northern New York by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC's were started during the 1930's Depression to give men work. These men planted mostly softwood trees, (pines and spruce), on old farmland and open meadow areas. They were also responsible for much park facility construction, such as the Thompson Park Zoo in Watertown. Millions of seedlings produced here were also planted on private lands.

After the Nursery ended production, trees were planted here for demonstration purposes. This work started in the spring of 1974. Trees were planted in blocks in order to compare the differences that arise between species with different origins, and management practices.

Wildlife abounds in this area. One may see White Tail Deer, Great Blue Heron, Woodchuck, Cottontail Rabbit or a Bluebird (the NY State bird) while walking through.

Accessible trail at the Lowville Demonstration AreaAccessible Opportunities
accesible logo

Accessible Features: Parking areas, picnic pads, fishing piers and the main trail have been improved to provide access.

DEC welcomes all visitors to explore outdoor recreation on state lands and we are committed to providing an ever-increasing range of accessible opportunities.

Full Listing of DEC's Accessible Recreation Destinations

Self-Guided Nature Trail

This brochure will give you a brief description of the numbered stops along the mapped trail. The trail is marked by blue trail markers and yellow directional arrows. This can be followed most easily in a clockwise direction. It is suitable for hiking in the spring, summer, and fall. The winter season is good for some easy cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The mosquito population is quite high at times, especially in the evening during the spring and early summer. Insect repellant and long pants are recommended.Photo of a fire tower

STOP 1: The fire tower was originally located at Number Four. This is the upper section of the tower. The original was 90 feet tall. Fire observers in towers have largely been replaced by aerial detection flights. Feel free to climb the stairs to the cabin. Please be careful when walking up and down. You have to duck while exiting the tower, so please watch your head. There is room for approximately 4 to 5 people in the tower at one time. The cabin you see is the standard observers cabin that accompanied most fire towers. This is where the observer stayed during the fire season. This cabin was built in the early 1930's and was originally located at Gomer Hill. It was moved to the Demonstration area as a cooperative venture between DEC and NYS DOT.

STOP 2: Feel free to use the picnic area. Picnic tables and barbecue grills are out for your use.

STOP 3: You are now entering the arboretum. It contains over 500 different species and cultivars of trees and shrubs. The different species are useful for landscaping, wildlife habitats, or both purposes. The arboretum highlights the color, shape, and winter hardiness of the many possibilities one could use when planting trees or shrubs in Northern NY. Not all the plants here are completely hardy in Northern NY.

The arboretum displays both native and non-native trees and shrubs. Please feel free to contact Fred Munk at the office if you have any questions about the plants on display.

The mulched beds receive heavy use by nesting killdeer in the spring. Many other birds and animals use the arboretum as a foraging area, especially in the spring.

STOP 4: Bluebird Nest Boxes

Painting of a BluebirdThe bluebird is "New York States official bird." Bluebirds were very common throughout the Empire state at one time. Bluebird numbers declined dramatically because of fewer hollow tree cavities for nesting along with competition from introduced birds like the house sparrow and starlings. Building and placing of bluebird houses has helped bring back the population.

Birds such as tree swallows, house sparrows, house wrens, chickadees, and white breasted nuthatches occupy these size boxes and will often out-compete the bluebirds. Some "tricks" have been developed to help bluebirds get nest boxes. For example, tree swallows are territorial. By placing two boxes close to each other one pair of swallows will chase other swallows away. This leaves one nest box open for the bluebird. It is also wise to place the nest box in open areas, away from buildings.

Plans to build and erect bluebird nest boxes are available at the office.

STOP 5: This area was set aside for wildlife. It contains hedges of honeysuckle and other shrubs. Many different birds and mammals feed on the fruits and use the hedges as escape cover and nesting areas.

STOP 6: This area was formerly managed to demonstrate Christmas Tree production. Due to heavy browsing by deer and limited staff time, it was decided to let this area go natural

Christmas tree plantations provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. Gold finches are especially fond of nesting in the dense foliage.Painting of sugar maple tree

STOP 7: You are now in the Sugar Maple Orchard. This area contains genetically improved sweet trees. Tree seedlings came from many sources including the College of Forestry, a Local Stock, a Vermont Stock, and an Aiken Stock. These trees were started between 1976 and 1978. There were approximately 435 trees located here, but in the winter of 1993-1994 many of the trees were affected by the previous summers drought along with the cold winter and died. The Demonstration Area is somewhat of a frost pocket. The low temperature for the winter of 93-94 was -45 degrees Fahrenheit. How can you help protect plants from cold winter temperatures?

Sugar Maple trees play an important role in Lewis County. Lewis County is the number one maple sugar producer in the state. This tree is also the official tree of New York State and an important timber species.

STOP 8: Why do you think these trees are dying? In 1993, the marsh was constructed on the grounds as wetland replacement for Route 812 reconstruction.

Topsoil fill from the excavation was placed to the north of these trees. The resulting change in drainage, along with buried root systems is killing these trees. Never raise or lower the grade on your ornamental trees. Also be careful when altering drainage patterns.

STOP 9: There are two ditches that run through the property. These ditches serve as drainage when the Black River floods in spring and fall. The ditches are home to many species of wildlife including Frogs, Muskrats, Mallard Ducks, Herons, Turtles, and occasionally a Beaver or Mink. Northern Pike will sometimes enter these drainages during spring flooding to spawn. Migrating birds can be seen here in the spring and fall.

STOP 10: Open fields are an important habitat for many species of animals. Many migrating song birds use fields for feeding and nesting cover. Foxes, hawks, and owls may be seen hunting for mice and moles here. Turkeys, skunks and opossums use fields while foraging for insects. Deer and rabbits depend on meadows for food from spring until fall.

If allowed to develop naturally the field would soon become crowded with shrubs then gradually revert to forest. Mowing the field is essential to maintaining this type of habitat. Timing is important. Mowing the field in late July allows enough time for ground nesting birds to raise and fledge their young.

STOP 11: This is the old Bunkhouse. Workers stayed here during the tree lifting and packing season. To the East, notice the two large Hybrid Poplar. These trees were planted around 1971, and have a diameter of 19.8 inches and a circumference of 60 inches. The bunkhouse is currently used for storage.

STOP 12: Six acres were set aside here to demonstrate a Natural Woodland. Both planted and naturally occurring species are present here. This area will eventually grow from meadow to forest land. This will take quite a few more years to make a complete transition. This transition from open field to forest is called ecological succession.

There is some poison ivy along the trail on to Stop 13. Remember "leaflets three - let it be"

STOP 13: You are now in a remnant of the forest which grew along the Black River and on the "Flats" before they were cleared. These include Green Ash, Silver Maple, Elm and Willow. This area also shows the damage the Microburst did on July 15, 1995. The Microburst did great damage on state and privately owned forests. The 104,000 acres of state forest that the Lowville office is responsible for had a total of 6,000 acres with heavy damage. The state Adirondack Forest Preserve had a total of 429,000 acres of land damaged, and 532,000 acres of private land had significant damage. There were also injuries, deaths and damage to structures from this storm. We were fortunate that the number of injuries and deaths were not higher.

STOP 14: You are now at the location of the annual Conservation Field Days and Lewis County Envirothon. Approximately 430 sixth graders from local schools attend this informative day. They are taught topics such as: Tree Planting, Recycling, Bluebirds, Ground Water Pollution, Gun Safely, Fire Control, and Land Stewardship.

The Envirothon is a gathering of local high school students who compete against each other on the topics of environmental issues, water, wildlife, soil, and forestry. The winning team moves on to represent Lewis County at the state competition.

STOP 15: This pond is an example of how a typical farm pond can be managed for trout. No natural spawning occurs, so brook and rainbow trout are stocked in numbers that balance the available feed for growth with the removal by anglers. Mortality is reduced by encouraging catch-and-release, a two fish take home limit and using barbless hooks. There is a public forest access road to the pond with parking for vehicles.

STOP 16: This red pine plantation is one of the many that can be seen across New York State. These trees were grown here in Dadville and planted around 1963. In the spring of 1996 the operations crew thinned half the plantation to demonstrate how the thinned trees will grow better than the trees that are not thinned. Thinning is the process of removing some of the weaker and deformed trees to accelerate the growth of the better trees. This is similar to the weeding and thinning you would do in your garden

STOP 17: The Wildlife Marsh is located here on 3.5 acres. It is the home or way station to a large variety of waterfowl and water inhabiting mammals. These include Mallard and Black Ducks, Canada Geese, Muskrat, Beaver, Great Blue and Green Herons, killdeer, and painted and snapping Turtles. The marsh also contains a rich warm water fishery with perch, sunfish, bullhead, pickerel, killifish, and shiners along with other minnows. Also present are water loving vegetation such as cattails and algae which fuel the whole web of life in the marsh. The small islands in the marsh are for waterfowl. This affords them protection from nest predators such as raccoons and skunks (look for tracks along the shore!) The mound on the south end of the marsh is an observation point designed to give a better view once the amount of vegetation increases. Note the lush cover around the marsh. This provides "Goose Pasture" and also serves as one of the herbaceous wildlife plots scattered around the grounds.

Painting of whitetail deerSTOP 18: As you look down the cedar hedge you will notice a distinct horizontal line at the bottom of the green crown of trees. This was caused by deer feeding on the boughs during the winter. The deer population has boomed in this area over the last 10 years. At this point in time, they are almost considered pests because of damage they cause to the Arboretum plantings.

STOP 19: This site includes the Coniferous Plantations which contains many softwood species blocks such as: Red Spruce, White Spruce, Balsam Fir, Austrian Pine, Larch, White Pine, Pitch Pine, Jack Pine and Norway Spruce. Try to identify the various species as you pass through the area. Signs will be placed that describe features of the various species.

STOP 20: This is a block of our native red spruce. Red spruce is the most common native spruce in New York State. Along with white pine, it was one of the first species to be exploited during early 1800's logging operations.

Red spruce is also one of the most susceptible species to acid rain/deposition. Many acres in the Adirondack Park have been adversely affected by acid rain - especially at higher elevations. Symptoms on red spruce can include reduced growth, yellowing foliage and mortality.

These spruce were planted in 1976. They had been invaded by aspen (popple), most of which have now been removed.

STOP 21: You are now in the Pine Plantation. There are White Pine, Scotch Pine, Norway Spruce, Pitch Pine, and Jack Pine. Every tree in a few of the blocks were pruned. This is not normally recommended. This pruning took place in order to facilitate better viewing. Usually only trees that are to be the final crop are pruned. This averages about 100 trees per acre. This pruning allows the tree to produce knot free, high quality lumber. Trees can be pruned in three stages with the first pruning at 8 feet, the second at 13 feet;, and the last at 17 feet. You should prune so that half the height of the tree is left in live crown.

These plantations provide cover for deer and other animals during the winter months. What are the ways softwood cover benefits deer?

STOP 22: Pitch Pine is an interesting tree. Fire is responsible for maintaining large stands in the wild. The cones often persist unopened on the trees until a forest fire; then soon after a fire many of the cones will open, shedding the seeds. This pine is important to wildlife. Whitetail deer and rabbits browse the young sprouts and seedlings. Seed crops are important in the diet of the pine warbler, pine grosbeak, and black-capped chickadee.

drawing of a poplar leafSTOP 23: You are now passing by several blocks of various kinds of hardwoods including: Chestnut, White Birch, Red Oak, Black Walnut, and Hybrid Poplar. Hybrid Poplar are trees that are started from 1 year stem cuttings taken from parent trees. Therefore the tree is genetically identical to the parent. These trees are well known for their ability to produce a quicker and larger quantity of wood per acre than their counterparts. After harvest, sprouting from their roots occurs within a short period of time. The Red Oak and White Birch have done best of all the hardwoods in the soil and climate of the Demonstration area.

Some of these species grow best near the cedar hedge. Why might this occur?

Please sign the Register in the picnic area. Usage records are requested to justify maintenance

Thank you for touring the area. The trail brochure and arboretum were made possible by youth employed through Pratt-Northam Foundation grants and the Summer Youth Program. This brochure, the trail, and arboretum would not have been possible without their efforts over the years. Pratt-Northam workers Mickey Dietrich and Warren Howard designed and constructed the trail. Jim Sessions and Warren Howard wrote the first draft of this brochure.

The operations staff constructed the tower, parking lot and picnic area, along with performing the heavy maintenance. The forestry staff is responsible for planning and much of the planting.

We welcome any comments or suggestions for improvements you might have. Feel free to drop written comments in the picnic area suggestion box or at the office. By phone please contact Fred Munk at (315) 376-3521. Organized tours are available by appointment.

Map of Lowville Demonstration AreaThe Lowville Department of Environmental Conservation office has a number of important responsibilities. These can be grouped into four major areas:

1. Public Lands: This office is responsible for the management of most state owned land in Lewis and Jefferson Counties. This includes 104,000 acres of State Forest (outside the Adirondack Park) under forest management and approximately 110,000 acres of Forest Preserve lands and easements. A very active forest management and recreation program is in place.

Timber stumpage sales in Lewis and Jefferson counties average about $400,000/year on 2,200 acres to 100 contractors. These figures were much greater for 1995-1997 due to the salvage of timber from the "microburst" wind storm of July 15, 1995.

2. Private Forestry Assistance: Forest stewardship assistance to private landowners is available in the areas of tree planting, care of young timber (noncommercial thinning and pruning), insect and disease problems, management planning, wildlife habitat improvement, urban forestry, timber sales and utilization and marketing.

3. Operations: The operations staff is responsible for construction and maintenance on DEC facilities and lands. In Lewis County this includes 17 buildings, 51 miles of Class A and B truck trails, 29 miles of Forest Preserve roads, 65 miles of horse trails, 74 miles of snowmobile trails, 12 miles of cross-country ski trails, 35 miles of hiking trails, 75 miles of public fishing rights and 625 miles of boundary lines. Other facilities include bridges, parking areas, boat launch sites, registers and signs.

4. Forest Rangers: The Forest Ranger staff is responsible for fire control, search and rescue, the licensed guide program, and law enforcement. They also conduct educational programs in fire-fighting, and search techniques.

Feel free to contact the office at:

NYS DEC
7327 State Route 812
Lowville, NY 13367
Phone: (315) 376-3521
with any questions or requests for assistance you might have.


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