|The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will host a public meeting to answer questions and share information about a habitat management plan for the Margaret Burke Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located in the town of Knox, Albany County.
The meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 30th, at 6:30 p.m. at the new visitor center at Thacher State Park, 830 Thacher Park Rd, New Scotland.
The meeting will include a presentation about the history of management on Margaret Burke 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. During the first half hour of the meeting, DEC staff will be available to meet with attendees and answer questions informally.
"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. "Margaret Burke provides essential habitat for a suite of birds and other wildlife, and the proposed management activities will enhance this special area."
The Margaret Burke WMA consists of 245 acres in northwestern Albany County on the Helderberg Escarpment. Numerous habitat types can be found on the WMA on both sides of Pleasant Valley Road, including mixed hardwood forests, fields, shrubland areas, and conifer plantations.
Specific habitat management goals for Margaret Burke WMA include managing approximately 16 percent of the WMA as young forest to promote American woodcock, wild turkey, and ruffed grouse habitat, and maintaining about 58 percent as upland forested habitat, 11 percent as grasslands, five percent as early successional shrublands, and about five percent of the WMA as wetlands.
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 decade, and to manage for young forests in perpetuity. Young forests are an important part of the forest landscape, but 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, the agency 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 Margaret Burke 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 Margaret Burke 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.