ALBANY, NY (10/12/2007; 1132)(readMedia)-- A 17-mile stretch that encompasses one of the largest inland dune systems in the eastern Great Lakes would become New York's latest Natural Heritage Area under a proposal announced today by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis.
proposed designating the Eastern Lake Ontario Barrier Beach and Wetland
Complex as a Natural Heritage Area, providing heightened protection to
the 5,800-acre site. This designation applies to all state-owned land
on the Lake Ontario shore between the mouths of Stony Creek in
Jefferson County to the north and the Salmon River in Oswego County to
the south. It includes the Black Pond Wildlife Management Area (WMA),
Southwick Beach State Park, Sandy Pond Beach Natural Area, Lakeview
Marsh WMA and the Deer Creek WMA. This would become the state's second
Natural Heritage Area.
"This designation is an important
step in making the continued protection and restoration of rare plants,
fauna and natural habitats a priority for this site," Grannis said. "As
climate change and other factors impact the Great Lakes, these barrier
beaches and wetlands will continue to provide the ecological diversity
that our current generation enjoys and future generations are entitled
"This designation is an important step in
protecting the unique natural resources of eastern Lake Ontario," said
Carol Ash, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks,
Recreation and Historic Preservation. "We look forward to a continued
partnership with DEC in preserving our state's diverse ecosystems,
while providing appropriate recreational opportunities for the public."
New York Natural Heritage Areas Program was established by law in 2002
and directs state managers on lands and waters so designated to
highlight and ensure the protection of rare animals, rare plants, and
significant natural communities. It also means biodiversity features
will be given priority when management decisions are being made. Last
month, the Tivoli Bays Wildlife Management Area on the Hudson River was
named New York's first Natural Heritage Area.
Lake Ontario Barrier Beach and Wetland Complex is made up of multiple
barrier beaches, bays, dunes and wetlands. The area has been recognized
in many ways - the state of New York has designated it "Significant
Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat" and a "Bird Conservation Area" and
the Audubon Society has named it an "Important Bird Area."
and inventories have indicated that there are 11 endangered and 10
threatened plant species, four endangered and four threatened animals
and eight significant ecological communities in the designated area.
the area supports a diversity of rare or at-risk breeding bird species
such as the least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis), northern harrier (Circus
cyaneus), common tern (Sterna hirundo) and the black tern (Chlidonias
niger). Other bird species use the area for staging and foraging, like
the common tern, Caspian tern (Sterna caspia), various shorebirds and
numerous species of waterfowl and the federally endangered piping
plover (Charadrius melodius) nested in the complex as recently as 1984.
Significant ecological communities in the complex are Great Lakes
dunes, medium fens, shallow emergent marshes, pristine silver maple-ash
swamps, red maple-hardwood swamps, red maple-tamarack peatlands,
calcareous pavement barrens and calcareous shoreline outcrops.
Endangered plant species, the state endangered bogbean buckmoth
(Hemileuca sp.) and other "Species of Greatest Conservation Need" are
found in the complex.
The public lands along Lake Ontario
provide a variety of recreational opportunities, including boat launch
and canoe/kayak access sites, hiking trails, wildlife viewing sites and
diverse hunting, fishing, and trapping opportunities, in addition to
camping, picnicking, and life-guarded swimming on Southwick Beach State
The protection of dunes and other significant
ecological communities and habitats has been enhanced substantially by
the Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Stewardship Program. This program was
developed by partners such as the DEC, The Nature Conservancy, Office
of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation and New York Sea Grant.
The program employs a number of dune stewards who educate the public
about the area's natural communities and sensitive habitats and
encourage public appreciation and environmentally sound recreational
enjoyment of the area. The program provides public walks and programs
as well as other interaction with visitors who tour the area.
adjacent to the Eastern Lake Ontario Barrier Beach and Wetland Complex
are also protected and therefore serve as a buffer to the sensitive
habitats present within the complex. The El Dorado Preserve, owned by
The Nature Conservancy, is located adjacent to and north of the
complex. Selkirk Shores State Park is at the southern end.
along the eastern shores of Lake Ontario we are fortunate to be able to
enjoy the many types of rare birds, plants and animals that live in the
dunes, beaches and wetlands of this area," said Senator Jim Wright. "By
designating this stretch of land as a Natural Heritage Area, we are
providing important enhanced protection for the wildlife that makes up
this habitat to ensure its vitality and diversity for centuries to
"I applaud the Commissioner and Administration for
their proactive approach and for their efforts in identifying this as a
Natural Heritage Area," Assemblyman Darrel J. Aubertine said. "This
designation of these public lands will strengthen protection efforts of
the natural environment and is consistent with our long-term strategy
for the continued use of public land."
"We live in a
region that is rich in visual beauty. Maintaining natural resources is
vital in preserving, protecting and promoting ecological diversity in
our region," said Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava.
information about this designation, visit "Eastern Lake Ontario Barrier
Beach and Wetland Area: Proposed Natural Heritage Area Designation" on
the DEC Web site (www.dec.ny.gov/animals/279.html).
DEC will accept comments on the proposed Eastern Lake Ontario Barrier
Beach and Wetland Complex NHA until October 25. Comments should be
addressed to Angelena M. Ross, NYS Department of Environmental
Conservation, 317 Washington St., Watertown NY 13601. Or e-mail
Eastern Lake Ontario Barrier Beach to Become State's Newest Natural Heritage AreaFriday, 12 October 2007
A 17-mile stretch that encompasses one of the largest inland dune systems in the eastern Great Lakes would become New York's latest Natural Heritage Area under a proposal announced today by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis.
Published in: Press Releases
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