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For Release: Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Public Meeting Set for Louise Keir WMA Habitat Management Plan

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will host a public meeting to provide information and answer questions about a habitat management plan for the Louise E. Keir Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located in the town of Coeymans, Albany County.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. at the Coeymans Hollow Volunteer Fire Company, 1290 State Route 143, Coeymans Hollow.

The meeting will include a presentation about the history of management on Louise E. Keir 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.

"Habitat management plans for the state's Wildlife Management Areas guide our science-based conservation and protection efforts to benefit wildlife and facilitate wildlife-dependent recreation," said DEC Regional Director Keith Goertz. "Louise Keir provides essential habitat for a suite of birds and other wildlife, and the proposed management activities will enhance this special area."

The Louise E. Keir WMA consists of 188 acres in southern Albany County along the southern extension of the Helderberg Escarpment. While the area was historically cleared and farmed, it has since reverted back to forestland.

One uncommon natural community exists on the WMA at the highest elevations, a pitch pine-oak-heath rocky summit. This community is fire dependent and because no fires have burned in the area for decades, the pitch pine is being shaded out and the habitat quality is declining. The management objectives on the WMA are to maintain forested habitat diversity and perpetuate the pitch pine-oak-heath rocky summit natural community to benefit wildlife.

Specific habitat management goals for Louise E. Keir WMA include managing approximately 14 percent of the WMA as young forest to promote ruffed grouse, wild turkey, and white-tailed deer habitat; maintain about 84 percent as upland forested habitat; and maintain about two percent of the WMA as trails and parking lots.

Beginning in 2015, DEC initiated a holistic planning process for wildlife habitat management projects brought about by the 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 Louise E. Keir 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, trapping and bird watching.

The habitat management plan for Louise E. Keir WMA can be found on DEC's website. For more information about the meeting or habitat management plan, please contact Selinda Brandon at (607) 652-7367.

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