Rome Sand Plains
Region 6 Natural Resource Highlight
On September 7, 2001 Deputy Commissioner Peter Duncan joined State and local officials and members of the Rome Sand Plains Resource Management Team to unveil new interpretive signs at Rome Sand Plains, providing historical information about this unique nature preserve in the City of Rome, Oneida County.
There is an active partnership between the State and the local community that is instrumental in protecting the Rome Sand Plains, and enhancing it's value as a community and environmental resource. The area is a priority project in the Open Space Conservation Plan for Region 6 and this project will expand the opportunities to explore historical, geological and ecological wonders of the Sand Plains.
The two newly installed signs are: "Rome Sand Plains", which describes how the area was formed 10,000 years ago and the unique features of the site; and "Wood Creek," which includes maps and narratives on the use of this creek 200 years ago as a link in a network of inland waterways from Albany to Oswego.
The signs were funded through a $3,600 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Sustainable Development Program grant awarded to The Nature Conservancy on behalf of the Rome Sand Plains Resource Management Team. The Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission had a critical role in developing the signs and following through on the final design, fabrication and shipping.
Overall, EPA has provided two grants (totaling $98,000) to enhance public use of this unique environmental area:
- $48,000 to TNC from the sustainable development program (1998) for planning for compatible development opportunities and developing signs and brochures and
- $50,000 to Oneida County from the wetlands planning program (2001) for development of a unit management plan. Rome Sand Plains is one of only a handful of inland pine barrens in the nation, encompassing approximately 16,000 acres in the City of Rome. The area consists of high sand dunes and low peat bogs, along with pine barrens and hardwood forests, meadows and wetlands.
There are two walking trails, Wood Creek Trail and Sand Dune Trail, that allow visitors to explore the unique features of the area, including rare plants and animals.
DEC began purchasing lands in at the Sand Plains in the 1980s, working with The Nature Conservancy to acquire and protect critical parcels. In addition to individual parcels owned by DEC and TNC, the Izaak Walton League, Oneida County and the City of Rome also own property in the Sand Plains. These five organizations own approximately one-quarter of the Sand Plains.
The Rome Sand Plains Resource Management Area was formally dedicated in October 1997. The site is cooperatively managed by the Rome Sand Plains Resource Management Team, which includes representatives from DEC, the City of Rome, Oneida County, the State Department of Transportation, the New York State Canals Corporation, the State Museum, The Nature Conservancy, the Izaak Walton League, the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission, New York Rivers United, the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce, the Oneida Nation, the Rome Historical Society, and the West Rome Riders, Inc.
The management team is preparing a unit management plan for the area in order to protect, maintain and enhance the geological, ecological and historical values of the Sand Plains, while also promoting recreational opportunities. More information on the area can be obtained by calling the Herkimer DEC sub-office, at (315) 866-6330.
Directions to access the Rome Sand Plains:From the East (City of Rome): Travel west out of Rome on the combined Route 46, 49 and 69 (West Dominick Street). Bear left when combined Route 46 and 49 split from Route 69. Travel west for 3 miles and turn right on Oswego Road. Travel less that one mile and turn left on Hogsback Road. At about 1 and 1/2 miles on the right is the parking area for the Sand Dune Trail and at 2 miles, on the left hand side of the road, is the parking area of the Wood Creek Trail.
From the West: Travel east on State Routes 46 or 49 toward Rome. When the 2 Routes combine, continue for another 3 miles and look for Oswego Road on the left. Travel less that one mile on Oswego Road and turn left on Hogsback Road. Follow directions from above.