Access and Use Plans Proposed for Canadaway Creek, Hanging Bog WMAs
By Rich Davenport, published February 4, 2022
On February 2, 2022, the NYSDEC announced in a press release that two new WMA Access and Public Use Plans (APUP) were released for public comment to help better define and align activities and access with the WMAs’ primary reason for being – provide wildlife habitat and refuge, while supporting wildlife and fisheries management activities first and foremost – hunting, trapping and fishing, which is the reason WMAs, or Wildlife Management Areas, exist.
All WMAs, MUAs (Multiple Use Areas) and UAs (Unique Areas) now must have APUPs, along with Habitat Management Plans, in place, since the overarching WMA regulations were adopted by DEC at the end of 2021. The WMA regulations and subsequent WMA-specific APUPs became necessary in large part due to the DEC’s unexpected success at promoting outdoors recreational activities and the opportunities the state’s WMAs, MUAs and UAs can offer. However, some activities were found to be inconsistent with the WMA reasons for being, while other activities were creating conflicts with primary activities these lands were secured to support.
Some details of the plans as it relates to allowable public uses are as follows:
Canadaway Creek WMA – located in Northern Chautauqua County along Route 60, this WMA is very popular for upland game bird and whitetail deer hunting, as well as for fishing, as the upper Canadaway Creek, a tributary of Lake Erie, runs through this 2,190 acre parcel in the Town of Arkwright. The steeply sloped landscape is comprised mainly of deciduous forest interspersed with conifers, is currently managed for ruffed grouse and woodcock habitat. In fact, Canadaway Creek WMA has been actively managed throughout its history, primarily through selective cuts and clear cuts to provide ruffed grouse habitat. Currently, seven percent of the WMA is in early successional habitat (ESH). This ESH is made up of 3% young forest, 2.3% shrubland, and 1.6% grassland. DEC intends to increase young forest an additional 200 acres to 12% along with creating an additional of 5 acres of shrubland to 3% and increasing grassland an additional 45 acres to 3.5%. This increase in acreage will increase early successional habitat to over 18% of the WMA. These habitat types are specifically aimed at providing habitat for upland game birds such as ruffed grouse, woodcock, and wild turkey. This management also benefits big game species like deer and black bear, as well as furbearers and various songbirds that call NY home.
Primary activities include wildlife-dependent recreation that is compatible with the primary goals and purposes of WMAs. Hunting, trapping, wildlife watching, wildlife/nature photography, and fishing are the primary uses of Canadaway Creek WMA. This has been further reinforced in the APUP. Secondary activities are not necessarily wildlife-dependent, but they are generally compatible with the goals and purposes of WMAs. Secondary activities including hiking, bicycling on WMA roads, cross country (Nordic) skiing, and snowshoeing are generally compatible with the goals of Canadaway Creek WMA. These activities are also permitted when used in conjunction with a primary activity (e.g., snowshoeing to go hunting or trapping).
Activities not compatible with this WMA, and therefore will be prohibited, have been identified as follows: Mechanized boating, overnight mooring and boat storage, swimming, fires, except for cooking and warmth, picnicking, camping, horseback riding and target shooting.
Restricted activities are typically not wildlife-dependent and have the potential to adversely affect wildlife or wildlife-dependent recreation. These activities may be permitted under strict conditions.
Snowmobiling: Snowmobiles are only allowed on approved connector trail segments which include designated segments of administrative roads and town roads. These trails are maintained by a local snowmobile club under a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement (VSA). These machines have the potential to disturb wintering wildlife, hunters, and trappers etc.
Operating motorized vehicles, including ATVs: As mentioned earlier, snowmobiles are permitted to cross the WMA solely for the purpose of connecting one approved designated trail to another. Snowmobiles are not allowed off trail and their use must not disturb wildlife or wildlife habitats and wildlife-dependent recreation in any way. We are proposing a designated route for Motorized Access Permit for People with Disabilities (MAWPPD) off Park Road. This designated route is for ATV use for people with disabilities that have the special use permit.
Dog training: Training dogs on wild game is permitted during the training season (August 16 to April 15). All other training, dog trials, and any training outside the training season dates requires a permit from the regional DEC office. “Dog training” is defined as a single dog owner(s) who has direct control and supervision over the dog while engaged in activities at teaching the dog(s) to pursue or retrieve wild game. Other dog training activities that involve a gathering or group of dogs and owners will be considered a “dog trial” and will require a permit from the regional DEC office to use the WMA.
Hanging Bog WMA – located north of the Village of Cuba in Allegany County, this 4,560 acre parcel contains rolling hills, forest land, fields, and marshes, and is named for the large man-made bog on the property that was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the late 1930s. Hanging Bog WMA has a long history of small game management and remains a focus area for ruffed grouse management in New York State. The area has been managed for ruffed grouse since the mid-1980s and is well known to grouse and woodcock hunters. The diverse young and mature forest habitat, shrublands, grasslands and wetlands make the area well suited for deer hunting, turkey hunting, rabbit and squirrel hunting, pheasant hunting, and trapping. The Hanging Bog WMA is also home to Camp Rushford, one of only four (4) conservation and environmental education camps operated by the DEC.
Primary activities include wildlife-dependent recreation that is compatible with the primary goals and purposes of WMAs. Hunting, trapping, wildlife watching, wildlife/nature photography, and fishing are the primary uses of Hanging Bog WMA. All statewide hunting, trapping, and fishing regulations apply. Hanging Bog provides good hunting for popular game species such as ruffed grouse, American woodcock, eastern wild turkey and ring-necked pheasants. Upland game bird hunting is popular on this WMA due to its management history and abundant suitable habitat. The area has wild apples, hawthorn, dogwood, viburnum, red and white oak and other mast producing trees and shrubs. Along with the abundance of food, there are many areas of dense understory which provide cover and nesting habitat. The conversion of shrubland to grassland along with the existing grasslands provides suitable habitat for pheasants and brood rearing for wild turkeys and ruffed grouse. There are many species of furbearers on the area such as: beaver, muskrat, otter, mink, fisher, weasel, raccoon, opossum, red and gray fox, bobcat, coyote, and striped skunk. Good areas for water trapping beaver are found along several drainages that flow through the area and in some of the ponds. There are small streams and culverts that provide good areas for muskrat trapping, too. The many fields and openings provide good areas for land trapping as well.
Secondary activities are not necessarily wildlife-dependent, but they are generally compatible with the goals and purposes of WMAs. Secondary activities including hiking, bicycling on WMA roads, cross country (Nordic) skiing, and snowshoeing are generally compatible with the goals of Hanging Bog WMA. These activities are also permitted when used in conjunction with a primary activity (e.g., snowshoeing to go hunting or trapping).
The restricted activities list shows similar to that of the Canadaway Creek WMA, with some notable exceptions. Horseback riding is permitted in Hanging Bog WMA, but only on the roadways that allow motor vehicle traffic. Riding on foot trails, logging access roads, fields, or any other off-road portion of the WMA is prohibited. Hanging Bog WMA also has a designated route for Motorized Access Permit for People with Disabilities (MAWPPD) off Briggs Road. This designated route is for ATV use for people with disabilities that have the special use permit. Camping is also allowed on the area at designated sites by permit only.
The draft plans for Canadaway Creek (PDF) and Hanging Bog (PDF) are available on DEC’s website. The public is encouraged to submit comments from Feb. 2, to March 2, 2022. Comments can be sent to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Region 9, 182 East Union Street, Suite 3, Allegany, NY, 14706 or by email to dec.sm.Wildlife.R9@dec.ny.gov with the subject line – Canadaway Creek WMA draft APUP or Hanging Bog WMA draft APUP.