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Rush Oak Openings Unique Area

Rush Oak Openings Unique Area protects the globally rare plant community commonly referred to as an "oak opening" or "oak savannah", please keep this in mind if you visit the area.

Invasive black swallow-wort suppression - Please do not disturb the bags or geotextile. See below for more information.

hikingcross country skiingsnow shoeinghuntingtrappingparkingicon key

Rush Oak Openings locator map
Grass burning at Rush Oak Openings.
Prescribed fire burning the grass April 22, 2013.

The 230-acre Rush Oak Openings Unique Area features the globally rare plant community commonly referred to as an "oak opening" or "oak savannah", please keep this in mind if you visit the area. This site is the only known intact oak opening remaining in New York State. Oak openings were very common in the Midwest (where the prairie met eastern forests) prior to European settlement. In addition to the oak openings habitat, there are oak woodlands, limestone woodlands, wetlands, successional old field communities and the transitions between each of these types.

Featured Activities

Hiking

hiking

General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

Rush Oak Openings has no designated recreation trails, however the Rush Oak Openings Haul Road connects the two parking lots, and many prescribed fire control lines branch off from it, all are available for exploring on foot.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross country skiing
snowshoeing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

Rush Oak Openings has no designated recreation trails, however the Rush Oak Openings Haul Road connects the two parking lots, and many prescribed fire control lines branch off from it, all are available for exploring in the winter on cross-county skis and snowshoes.

Hunting & Trapping

hunting
trapping

Wildlife Management Unit: 8H

General information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules and regulations.

Rush Oak Openings Unique Area is open for hunting and trapping during appropriate season. Target shooting is prohibited.

Wildlife

General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

New York's Finger Lakes encompasses a wide variety of habitats and landscapes made up of mountainous hills, forests, grasslands and wetlands. Everything from black bear to black-throated blue warblers and brook trout to wild turkey reside in the Finger Lakes region. The grasslands are home to a variety of bird species including northern harrier and state-endangered Henslow's sparrow. White-tailed deer and fisher thrive in the forested hills, while beaver and mink flourish in the wetlands. Visitors from across New York State flock to this area year round for its exquisite wildlife watching and unbeatable hunting.

Directions

From exit 11 on I 390, head south on Route 15 about 2 ¾ mile then turn east onto Honeoye Falls-Five Points Rd for less than one mile to the 5 Points Parking Lot. OR, continue on Route 15 another ½ mile (total 3 ¼ miles) to the Rte 15 Parking Lot.

  • 5 Points Parking Lot is located off Honeoye Falls Five Points Road, 0.9 miles from its intersection with NYS Route 15S. (42.961472°N, 77.668036°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • NYS Route 15 Parking Lot is located off of NYS Route 15 (W Henrietta Road), 3.0 miles south from its intersection with NYS Route 251 (Rush Scottsville Road). (42.961433°N, 77.685448°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Rules, Regulations, and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating on Unique Areas to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.

All users of Rush Oak Openings Unique Area must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Follow the NYS Firewood regulation to protect the forests you love from invasive pests and diseases..

Site-Specific Rules for Rush Oak Openings Unique Area

Anyone enjoying this property must observe rules which protect visitors and the globally rare plant communities located at Rush Oak Openings Unique Area.

  1. No target shooting
  2. Be extremely careful with fire - grass burns very easily and quickly
  3. No camping

Planning and Management

DEC has developed a Draft Northern Finger Lakes Unit Management Plan (UMP) which describes the proposed management activities for these lands. In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us at r8.ump@dec.ny.gov.

At Rush Oak Openings, restoration and management of the Oak Opening Community will prevent the disappearance of oak opening remnants, by increasing the diversity of native plants, reducing and possibly eliminating invasive species, and reintroduction of fire to fire-maintained communities. Prior to the development of the Northern Finger Lakes UMP, DEC managed these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the 1999 Rush Oak Openings Unit Management Plan (PDF) and the Rush Oak Openings Prescribed Fire Plan.

Map of Northern Finger Lakes Unit
Map of the Northern Finger Lakes UMP

Habitat, Ecological Communities, Wildlife, and Vegetation

Image of forest worker starting a perscribed fire
Starting the prescribed fire in March, 2012

Under the Unit Management Plan and the Prescribed Fire Plan, invasive brush and trees have been removed, grass seeds harvested then re-planted in cleared areas, and prescribed fires completed in the openings and woodland areas. Over the years, this active management has resulted in increased abundance and health of the native warm-season grasses and decreased population of exotic plants such as honeysuckle.

Grassland and oak ecosystems depend upon frequent fires for the preservation and maintenance of their structure and biodiversity for several reasons. Fire increases vegetative productivity, flowering, native species diversity, and suppresses fire-intolerant exotic species that are less adapted to survive periodic fire. In grassland communities, fine fuels (thatch) often accumulate faster than it can decompose. The annual buildup of the litter layer makes it difficult for herbaceous species to sprout and grow.

The prescribed fire takes place in spring, or in the fall; for safety reasons during active burning Rush Oak Openings Unique Area may be temporarily closed to public use, usually no more than 1 or 2 days annually.

In 1990, as part of the 1986 Environmental Quality Bond Act, DEC acquired 123 acres from the Quinn family on the east side with road frontage on Honeoye Falls- 5 Points Rd. In 1997, with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Protection Fund, NYS DEC purchased an additional 105 acres from the Goff/Spink family on the west side with road frontage on West Henrietta Rd/US Rte. 15. This is why the east side of the property is known as the Quinn Tract and the western side is known as the Goff Tract. In 2018, an additional 12 acres were purchased from The Nature Conservancy, bringing the total to 240 acres owned by DEC.

Black Swallow-Wort Suppression
long black plastic in a field, with full garbage bags on the edges and two men.
Staking down the geotextile
on top of the pile of
cut black swallow-wort, in 2018.

In the spring and summer of 2018 and 2019, several patches of black swallow-wort (leaves DEC website) were killed with herbicide. Additional patches were mechanically cut, or seed pods hand pulled, then gathered and left to rot in the sun, either under a geotextile cover or in plastic garbage bags. The geotextile and garbage bags will be removed prior to the prescribed burn next spring. Please do not disturb the bags or geotextile.

Nearby Areas, Amenities, Attractions, and Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Gas, food, and other supplies as well as lodging and dining can be found in the nearby communities of Honeoye Falls, Avon abd Rochester.

Monroe County Visitor Information (leaves DEC's website) and Visit Rochester (leaves DEC's website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

Numerous guidebooks and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.


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