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For Release: Thursday, April 21, 2016

DEC to Host Public Information Session on Habitat Management Plan for Ashland Flats Wildlife Management Area in Towns of Cape Vincent & Lyme

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will host a public information session to answer questions from the public and provide information on a recently finalized habitat management plan for Ashland Flats Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located in DEC Region 6, Towns of Cape Vincent and Lyme, Jefferson County.

The session will take place on Thursday, April 28 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in room 100 of the Dulles State Office Building located in Watertown.

"The goal of our habitat management plan is to guide our science based conservation and protection efforts on significant ecosystems to benefit wildlife and facilitate wildlife-dependent recreation," said DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Ashland Flats provides essential habitat for a suite of birds, fish and other wildlife, and the proposed management activities will enhance this unique area."

Ashland Flats WMA was acquired to provide wetland habitat for nesting and migratory waterfowl and upland habitat for various game and non-game species. Current management practices at Ashland Flats WMA include managing habitat for grassland birds, waterfowl, and other wildlife species. Beaver, muskrat, white-tailed deer, and wild turkey can also be found on the WMA.

Active habitat management to benefit wildlife populations is a fundamental concept of wildlife biology, and has been an important component of wildlife management in New York for decades. Beginning in 2015, DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) initiated a holistic planning process for wildlife habitat management projects. Habitat management plans are being developed for all WMAs and other properties administered by the Division of Fish and Wildlife's Bureau of Wildlife, including select Multiple Use Areas and Unique Areas. The plans guide management for a 10-year time period, after which progress on implementation will be assessed and the plans will be modified as needed.

The plan incorporate recommendations from various sources, including Unit Management Plans, existing WMA habitat management guidelines, NY Natural Heritage Program's WMA Biodiversity Inventory Reports, and Bird Conservation Area guidelines.

The plan also incorporate aspects of NYSDEC's Young Forest Initiative, which aims to establish a minimum of 10 percent of the forested acreage on WMAs as young forest over the next 10 years, and to manage for young forests in perpetuity. Young forests are an important part of the forest landscape, but they're in decline over the past 50 years along with the wildlife that depend on this habitat, as forests age and human land uses change. DEC has been managing forests on WMAs to improve wildlife habitat for many years. With this Initiative the DEC is increasing efforts and raising awareness about this type of habitat management.

Michael Burger, Ph.D., Director of Conservation and Science of Audubon New York said, "we support the way DEC is prioritizing the maintenance and proper management of large grasslands and the conversion of poor quality conifer plantations to native hardwood forests. We appreciate all of the effort that DEC put into this HMP and think it provides a solid blueprint for habitat management at Ashland Flats WMA."

"The Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society look forward to the Ashland Flats WMA habitat management plan being implemented to improve forest health and wildlife habitat," said Andy Weik, Ruffed Grouse Society Regional Biologist for New England, New York, and Louisiana.

"Active management of the WMA's grasslands, shrublands, and forest is essential to restoring and maintaining high quality habitat for New York's grassland and young forest-dependent species, especially American Woodcock and Golden-winged Warbler. We anticipate that the tracked forestry machine that RGS/AWS donated to DEC will prove useful in improving shrublands on Ashland Flats," added Mr. Weik.

Actions identified in the Ashland Flats WMA plan include routine maintenance of water control structures, mowing large grassland fields, creating early successional habitat, controlling invasive species, and creating quality forest stands.

The meeting will include a presentation about the history of management on Ashland Flats WMA, specific activities and locations for these management actions planned for the WMA, and a brief overview of the Young Forest Initiative. Time will be given for questions from the public.

The habitat management plan for Ashland Flats WMA can be found on DEC's website. For more information on this event please contact: Andrea Pedrick at 315-785-2267.

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  • Andrea Pedrick
    Region 6 Headquarters
    317 Washington Street
    Watertown, NY 13601
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