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For Release: Wednesday, October 12, 2016

DEC to Share New Plan for Rattlesnake Hill Wildlife Management Area in the Towns of Grove, Nunda and Ossian at Public Meeting

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will host a public information session to answer questions about a recently completed habitat management plan for the Rattlesnake Hill Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located in the towns of Nunda and Ossian, Livingston County, and the Town of Grove, Allegany County.

The session is scheduled for Wednesday, October 26, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the cafeteria at Dansville High School at 284 Main Street in Dansville. An open house will take place from 6:30 - 7 p.m., followed by a formal presentation.

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

Rattlesnake Hill WMA is currently managed to provide a diversity of wildlife habitats, including hardwood and conifer forests, early-successional grasslands and shrublands, and several marsh impoundments and ponds. 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 10 years, after which 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. While DEC has managed forests on WMAs to improve wildlife habitat for many years, 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 Rattlesnake 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 hunting and bird watching.

The meeting will include a presentation about the history of management on Rattlesnake 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 Rattlesnake Hill 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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