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For Release: Thursday, July 14, 2016

DEC to Host Public Information Session on Habitat Management Plan for Vinegar Hill Wildlife Management Area

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will host a public information session to provide information and answer questions about a recently completed habitat management plan for the Vinegar Hill Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located in the town of Lexington, Greene County.

The session will take place on Tuesday, July 26, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the West Kill Community Building located at 141 Spruceton Road in West Kill.

"Habitat management plans on our Wildlife Management Areas guide our science-based conservation and protection efforts to benefit wildlife and facilitate wildlife-dependent recreation," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Vinegar Hill provides essential habitat for a suite of birds and other wildlife, and the proposed management activities will enhance this special area."

Vinegar Hill WMA is currently managed for forested and early-successional habitats including grasslands and was historically managed as a deer wintering yard. Active habitat management to benefit wildlife populations is fundamental to wildlife management and has been an important component of New York's efforts for decades. Beginning in 2015, DEC initiated a holistic planning process for wildlife habitat management projects brought about by the start of Young Forest Initiative. Habitat management plans are being developed for all WMAs and other DEC properties, including select Multiple Use and Unique Areas. These plans guide land use management for a 10-year time period, after which time DEC will assess implementation progress and modify the plans as needed.

DEC's Young Forest Initiative 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 have declined over the past 50 years along with the wildlife that depend on this habitat type. While DEC has been managing forests on WMAs to improve wildlife habitat for many years, with this initiative DEC is increasing its efforts and raising awareness about this type of habitat management.

In addition to incorporating aspects of the Young Forest Initiative, the habitat management plan incorporates recommendations from various other sources including unit management plans, existing WMA habitat management guidelines, best management practices, the New York Natural Heritage Program's WMA biodiversity inventory reports, and bird conservation area guidelines.

DEC will continue active management on Vinegar Hill WMA to benefit wildlife abundance and diversity, promote best management practices for targeted wildlife and habitats, and provide opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation, such as bird watching.

The meeting will include a presentation about the history of management on Vinegar Hill WMA, specific activities and locations for the management actions planned for the WMA, a brief overview of the Young Forest Initiative, and a question and answer period.

The habitat management plan for Vinegar Hill WMA can be found on DEC's website. For more information on this event please contact Selinda Brandon at (607) 652-2302.

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