Young Forest Project at Hanging Bog WMA in New York

By Bob Clark, Olean Times Herald

CUBA — Users of the Hanging Bog Wildlife Management Area will be able to sound off on a new 10-year management plan Wednesday, November 2, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation reports.

The public hearing is scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Cuba-Rushford Middle/High School auditorium. The first half-hour of the meeting, officials said, will be an informal open house, with a formal public hearing from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The meeting will include a presentation about the history of management on Hanging Bog, specific activities and locations for the management actions planned for the area, a brief overview of the New York Young Forest Initiative and a question-and-answer period.

Ruffed grouse

Hanging Bog WMA is known for ruffed grouse management. Grouse are one of many kinds of New York wildlife that need young forest.

In the plan, the state seeks to clearcut just under 450 acres of 4,560 acres on Hanging Bog WMA before 2025, scattered around the management area in 10 compartments; convert about 70 acres into shrubland; and perform other upkeep at the site, including mowing and impoundment repairs.

Much of the plan, officials said, is aimed at integrating the DEC's Young Forest Initiative. Young forests, the state reports, come from cuts that regenerate the forest and usually have dense understories. Historically, young forests were created by natural disturbances like forest fires and flooding. Since the 1960s, officials report, birds that rely on young forests for habitat have been in decline.

Under the initiative, officials seek to establish at least 10 percent of the forested habitats on each management area as young forest, which will be maintained as such in perpetuity.

"Habitat management plans on our Wildlife Management Areas guide our science-based conservation and protection efforts to benefit wildlife and facilitate wildlife-dependent recreation," said DEC Regional Natural Resources Supervisor Paul McKeown in a press release. "Hanging Bog provides essential habitat for many birds and other wildlife, and the proposed management activities will enhance this special area."

Hanging Bog WMA is near New Hudson in Allegany County, western New York. The Wildlife Management Area is known for its ruffed grouse management; grouse are one of the species that rely on young forest habitat.

Under the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture acquired the area and constructed a Civilian Conservation Corps camp there during the Great Depression, according to the DEC. After 1940, the federal government leased the land to the state, with the state taking over the property entirely in 1962 and adding to it through several purchases.

The man-made impoundment known as Hanging Bog was constructed by the CCC in the 1930s.

Since the 1940s, officials have worked to manage the property for wildlife through planting and thinning conifer plantations, selective and clear-cutting of hardwoods, planting shrubs and developing small wetland areas, officials said. In 1951, a camp known today as Rushford Conservation Education Camp was constructed at the northern end of the management area.

Almost the entire 456,000-acre site is available for hunting and other outdoor activities, with the camp as the only zone where hunting is not permitted.

Read the habitat management plan on the NYDEC website. For more information on the event, call 716-851-7010.

Learn more about the New York Young Forest Initiative.