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For Release: Monday, August 22, 2016

DEC to Host Public Information Session on Habitat Management Plan for High Tor Wildlife Management Area in the Towns of Italy, Middlesex and Naples

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 High Tor Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located in the town of Naples, Ontario County, and towns of Italy and Middlesex, Yates County.

The session will take place on Thursday, September 8, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at the Naples High School located at 136 North Main Street in Naples. An open house will take place from 6:00 - 6:30 p.m., followed by a formal presentation at 6:30 p.m.

"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. "High Tor provides essential habitat for a suite of birds and other wildlife, and the proposed management activities will enhance this special area."

High Tor WMA is currently managed to provide a diversity of wildlife habitats including hardwood and conifer forests, early-successional grasslands and shrublands, and an extensive system of wetlands along West River. 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. DEC launched the young forest initiative in 2015, and this was the catalyst for starting an in-depth planning process for wildlife habitat management projects. 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 High Tor 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 High Tor 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 High Tor WMA can be found on DEC's website. For more information on this event please contact Michael Palermo at (585) 226-5383.

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