For Release: Friday, May 6, 2011
DEC Holding Public Meeting to Discuss Reclassifying the Baxtertown Property to a Wildlife Management Area
Thursday, May 12, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center Barn Classroom
79 Farmstead Lane, Wappingers Falls, NY
DEC Seeks Public Comment on the Proposal
The Department of Environmental Conservation announces a meeting on a proposal to reclassify the Baxtertown portion of the Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center property to a Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Once reclassified, it would be known as the Baxtertown Woods Wildlife Management Area. The Baxtertown property is a 222-acre parcel that is south of Baxtertown Road and east of Rte. 9D and located entirely in the Town of Fishkill. The state acquired this parcel in 2005, increasing the acreage of the existing Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center property. At the meeting, DEC staff will provide an overview of the proposal and will be available to both discuss and answer questions. A portion of the meeting will be dedicated to taking public comment on the proposal.
The purpose of the proposal is to make the Baxtertown property accessible to hunters, anglers, trappers, and other recreational users, while keeping in mind its proximity to residential areas and the presence of wetlands. As with the Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center property itself, hunting and trapping are currently prohibited on the parcel. However, with reclassification, hunting and other recreational uses would be allowed at the proposed WMA starting in fall 2011.
Public access for wildlife-related recreation, including hunting, is limited in the Hudson Valley, particularly in southern Dutchess County. The Baxtertown property offers opportunities for such recreation, as well as wildlife and habitat management. Growing deer populations have led to increased nuisance issues, such as damage to household gardens and lawns and deer/vehicle accidents. Opening this property to hunting will help manage the local deer population.
What is a Wildlife Management Area?
Wildlife Management Areas are state lands that are managed specifically for wildlife habitat and wildlife-related recreation and education. DEC's Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources manages them with funding provided by the federal Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson) Act, which places an excise tax on firearms and hunting equipment, and New York State's Conservation Fund, generated through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, as well as the Environmental Protection Fund and general funds.
WMAs provide unique opportunities for the public to interact with a wide variety of wildlife species. Many outdoor recreational activities are allowed at WMAs, including hunting, trapping, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, bird watching, wildlife photography and nature observation. As with other WMAs in New York State, hunting and trapping will be allowed on the proposed Baxtertown WMA but will continue to be prohibited on the SKF Environmental Education Center property.
Firearm Restrictions for the Proposed WMA
Since the use of rifles is prohibited in Dutchess County, the use of rifles will be prohibited at the proposed Baxtertown WMA. NYSDEC recommends allowing deer hunting with archery equipment (long bows and crossbows) only. Shotguns and archery equipment would be permitted for small game, waterfowl, furbearer and turkey hunting on the property. NYSDEC Forest Rangers would enforce regulations associated with the proposed WMA.
The public comment period on the proposal runs through June 13, 2011. Following the 30-day public comment period, NYSDEC staff will review and consider all comments before making a recommendation to the NYSDEC Commissioner.