This site is the largest relatively intact tract of forest habitat in the
state. It also contains the largest legally designated Wilderness Area
in the state. It is a mountainous region with a maximum elevation
of 5,344 feet and at least 24 peaks over 3,500 feet, with sub-alpine
and alpine habitats.

Ornithological Summary

The peaks over 2,800 feet provide habitat for a distinctive sub-alpine
bird community that includes the Bicknell?s Thrush, Swainson?s
Thrush, and Blackpoll Warbler. Within the Wilderness Area is a vast
amount of forest habitat that supports a characteristic forest breeding
bird community, including the Ruffed Grouse, American Woodcock,
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Least Flycatcher,
Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Veery, Wood Thrush,
Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Blue
Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler,
Blackpoll Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart,
Ovenbird, Canada Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak,
and Purple Finch. The boreal habitat supports the Spruce Grouse,
Three-toed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Boreal
Chickadee, Red Crossbill, and White-winged Crossbill. The area also
supports breeding at-risk species, including the Common Loon and
Peregrine Falcon.

Conservation Issues

Portions of this site have been designated as a state Bird Conservation
Area and Wilderness Area. Significant restrictions apply to
management activities on the state-owned portions of this area, which
is one of the most popular outdoor recreation areas in the state. The
number of visitors more than doubled from 1983 to 1993 to over 114,000
visitors per year. There is concern that this level of human use will
degrade habitats, especially near trails and on fragile alpine habitats.
More research is needed to examine the impacts of human visitation
on bird populations and habitats. Opportunities exist for sustainable
forest management on privately-owned portions of this site, which
can provide required habitat for birds that prefer successional forests.
Acid rain has had a major effect on the forest and lake ecosystems, but
the long-term effects on birds like the Common Loon and Osprey are
unclear. Acid rain may also be having an impact on the nesting success
of songbirds, particularly at high elevations, by killing snails and other
sources of calcium needed for egg production. The curtailment of
sulphur dioxide emissions and the reduction of acid rain is currently
a significant NY State initiative. Scientists in a number of academic
institutions, government agencies, and non-government organizations
operating in the park are considering launching an ?All-Taxa Biological
Inventory? of the park on public and private lands, to provide a better
knowledge base for future management decisions. Detailed inventory
and standardized monitoring of at-risk species is needed for the area.
The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) coordinates the
Mountain Birdwatch survey that monitors breeding Bicknell?s Thrush
and other high-elevation birds.

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