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For Release: Thursday, February 8, 2018

Public Meeting Set on Habitat Management Plan For Rensselaer County Wildlife Management Area

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today that the agency will host a public meeting to provide information and answer questions about a habitat management plan for the Capital District Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located in the towns of Berlin and Stephentown, Rensselaer County.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the Berlin Volunteer Fire Company, 11 Community Ave., Berlin.

The meeting will include a presentation about the history of management on Capital District 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. "The Capital District WMA provides essential habitat for a suite of birds and other wildlife, and the proposed management activities will enhance this special area."

The Capital District WMA consists of 3,982 acres in southeastern Rensselaer County. Numerous habitat types can be found on the WMA, including forests, freshwater wetlands, ponds and beaver impoundments.

The Capital District WMA habitat management plan calls for managing approximately 15 percent of the WMA as young forest to promote snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse and moose habitat. In addition, the plan calls for maintaining about 80 percent as mature forested habitat, 2.4 percent as wetland habitat and 0.3 percent as open water habitat.

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 Capital District 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, fishing and bird watching.

The habitat management plan for Capital District 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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