A Final Unit Management Plan for 14 state forests located in Chautauqua County is complete, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. New horse and bike trails are among the new recreation opportunities proposed in the UMP, as well as numerous maintenance projects to improve forest access.
"The finalized plan incorporates comments received during the public review process and will guide future management of these state lands to provide for healthy, sustainable and biologically diverse forest ecosystems, in addition to expanding multi-use recreational opportunities," Commissioner Martens said. "One of our main priorities is to strengthen connections between communities and state lands. We encourage local residents and visitors to enjoy the outdoors and this plan offers a range of activities they can enjoy on beautiful forest lands in the region."
Governor Andrew Cuomo is committed to expanding recreation opportunities throughout the state, which will attract more visitors and boost regional businesses that benefit from people utilizing outdoor recreation facilities.
The plan proposes several projects to expand public access and outdoor recreation opportunities as well as ensure sustainable silvicultural (forest management) practices, including:
Developing approximately 21 miles of sustainable horse trails;
Developing approximately 22 miles of sustainable mountain bike trails;
Protecting wetlands, riparian areas, late successional stage forest areas, and specific wildlife habitats;
Conducting over 3,600 acres of timber harvests during the 10-year term of the plan, including approximately 400 acres of regeneration harvests to create early successional habitat;
Maintaining over 60 miles of existing recreational trails,
Rehabilitating most of the roads on the unit, and
Removing or lowering three deteriorating dams to reduce the threat of damage to roads downstream.
The state forests addressed in this UMP consist of approximately 17,199 acres of forest land within in the towns of Chautauqua, Sherman, Clymer, Harmony, North Harmony, Busti, Stockton, Charlotte, Cherry Creek, Gerry and Ellington - representing about 6.4 percent of the total land area within these townships.
The 14 state forest properties addressed in this plan are included under 12 forest names: Boutwell Hill State Forest, North Harmony State Forest, Mount Pleasant State Forest, Panama State Forest, Chautauqua Gorge State Forest, Stockton State Forest, Brokenstraw State Forest, Harris Hill State Forest, Hatch Creek State Forest, Whalen Memorial State Forest, Hill Higher State Forest and Wellman State Forest.
More information on the Chautauqua Unit Management Plan, including a full copy of the plan and associated maps are available on DEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov/lands/22556.html. Copies are also available in electronic format on compact disc and may be requested by calling DEC at 363-2052.