Margaret Burke Wildlife Management Area
Margaret Burke Wildlife Management Area (WMA) consists of about 250 acres of mostly upland habitat in Albany County. The property was gifted to the Conservation Department in the late 1950's. It is located in the Town of Knox. Parking areas providing access can be found on Pleasant Valley Rd. This parcel of public land affords multiple uses for outdoor recreation including hunting, trapping, birding, and hiking.
Habitat / Ecological Communities
M. Burke WMA is bisected by Pleasant Valley Rd. The east side of the property is primarily in mature mixed forest. The west side of the property is the site of the former Burke farm, and is comprised of a variety of habitats, including fields, shrubby areas, orchards, conifer plantations, and natural woodlands. One small area of shrub wetland occurs on the west edge of the property. This site is on the Helderberg Escarpment, and exhibits karst geology, with very thin soils and numerous rock outcrops exhibiting interesting cracks and fissures.
An assortment of upland wildlife inhabits the WMA including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, gray squirrel, eastern cottontail, fox, and raccoon. M. Burke is a designated pheasant release site during the small game hunting season. M. Burke is included within the Helderberg Bird Conservation Area.
The diversity of habitats and wildlife species found at M. Burke provides unique opportunities for public use. Many recreational activities, including hunting, trapping, hiking, wildlife observation, and nature photography are allowed and encouraged. Parking areas have been developed to provide access to the area. There are no designated trails, but the open habitats on the west side of the property allow easy access to most sections of the WMA. A gas line right-of-way on the east side of the property provides good access to the forested areas.
Management at M. Burke is designed to maintain important forested and early successional habitats so many species can exist on the site. Selected timber harvesting has occurred periodically at M. Burke in order to maintain the health of the forest and increase forest stand diversity. Habitat improvements include mowing, and the placement of nesting boxes. In the early 1960's former farm fields were planted with trees and shrubs to increase food and cover for wildlife. Crabapple and apple trees found in upland areas are maintained to provide food for wildlife. Mowing is used annually to maintain fields to enhance habitat for grassland nesting birds.
Rules and Regulations
Public use of this WMA is governed by 6 NYCRR §51 (Statutory authority: Environmental Conservation Law, §§ 11-2101).
The following acts are prohibited:
- Cutting, plucking, severing, damaging or removing trees or other vegetation.
- Littering, damaging or removing gates, fences, signs or other property.
- Use of ATV's, off-road motorcycles, or snowmobiles
- The area near the former shale pit is posted against all entry to preclude target shooting at this location.
All visitors to the WMA must comply with all regulatory signs posted by DEC.