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For Release: Thursday, August 16, 2018

DEC Adopts Habitat Management Plan for Doodletown WMA

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will host a public meeting for the Doodletown Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on Tuesday, August 28, at 6:00 p.m., at the town of Copake's Park Building/Community Center, 305 Mt. View Road, Copake. At the meeting, DEC will provide information and answer questions about the recently adopted habitat management plan for the WMA.

"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 Doodletown WMA provides valuable habitat that supports important game and non-game species. Planned forest management will help create young forest habitat needed by many wildlife species experiencing population declines, including the New England cottontail, a species of special concern in New York State."

The meeting will include a presentation about the management history on the Doodletown 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 Doodletown WMA consists of 689 acres in southeastern Columbia County. Numerous habitat types can be found on the WMA, including forests, freshwater wetlands, and open water. These habitats support a diverse array of wildlife including wild turkey, bobcat, black bear, spotted salamander, muskrat, wood thrush, and scarlet tanager. This property falls within a New England cottontail focus area. Several areas of the WMA provide excellent opportunities for the creation and expansion of young forest/early successional habitat. One of the goals of the planned management is to create habitat within the property and to provide connectivity to neighboring properties to facilitate the dispersal and establishment of New England cottontail populations.

DEC will manage the Doodletown 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. To provide suitable habitat for the various species that depend on young forests, DEC will undertake seed tree timber harvests, which leave a varied level of mature trees remaining for cover and a seed source for natural forest regeneration. The creation of openings in the forest canopy will allow a dense understory of grasses, wildflowers, vines, shrubs, and tree seedlings/saplings to be become established, providing young forest habitat required by the target species at Doodletown WMA.

In addition to incorporating aspects of the Young Forest Initiative, the habitat management plan incorporates recommendations from 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.

The habitat management plan for Doodletown WMA can be found on DEC's website.

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 ten 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.

For more information about DEC's Young Forest Initiative see DEC's website.

For more information about the multi-state cooperative Young Forest Project see the Young Forest Project website. (leaves DEC website).

For more information about the meeting or habitat management plan, the public can contact DEC Wildlife Biologist Selinda Brandon at (607) 652-7367.

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