Important Bird Areas

Eastern Lake Ontario Barrier Beaches

New York

This site extends roughly from Little Salmon River north to Black
River and east (inland) to Route 3. It contains the remains of one of the
largest inland dune systems in the Eastern Great Lakes and some of the
highest quality freshwater marshes in the state. The site includes a mix
of private and public land, with many significant wetlands administered
by NYS OPRHP (Southwick Beach and Sandy Island Beach State
Parks), NYS DEC (Deer Creek Marsh Wildlife Management Area
[WMA]), Sandy Pond Beach Unique Area, Lakeview Marsh WMA
and Black Pond WMA), and land owned by The Nature Conservancy
(El Dorado Preserve).

Ornithological Summary

This vitally important wetland complex supports many migrating and
breeding species, including at-risk species such as the American Black
Duck (winter), Common Loon (winter), Pied-billed Grebe (present
in breeding season), American Bittern (present in breeding season),
Least Bittern (breeds), Northern Harrier (breeds), Common Tern
(has bred), Black Tern (breeds), and Sedge Wren (present in breeding
season). Many wetland-dependent species use the area as a migratory
staging and feeding area, including the Caspian Tern, Common Tern,various shorebird species, and a diversity of waterfowl. Numbers of all
waterfowl fluctuate widely, depending on winter conditions. In mild
winters the area hosts thousands of ducks, including the American
Black Duck, Mallard, Long-tailed Duck, Common Goldeneye, and
Common Merganser. As recently as 1984, the site supported breeding
Piping Plovers.
Average 2,345, maximum 2,985 individuals from 2000-2003.
Site regularly supports
over 300 individuals [1];
average 664 maximum, 1,005
individuals from 1985-87.

Conservation Issues

This site is listed in the 2002 Open Space Conservation Plan as a
priority site under the project name Eastern Lake Ontario Shoreline
and Islands. Portions of this site (Black Pond WMA, Lakeview Marsh
WMA, Sandy Pond Beach Natural Area, and Deer Creek Marsh
WMA), have been designated a state Bird Conservation Area. Much
of the shoreline has been developed for camps and houses. Potential
negative impacts of recreational use on sensitive species, particularly
of sand beaches, are a concern and should be considered in future
management. Approximately one half of the barrier dune is managed
by NYS OPRHP, NYS DEC, and The Nature Conservancy. The
New York Sea Grant program, The Nature Conservancy, NYS DEC,
NYS OPRHP, and the Onondaga Audubon Society are working
together to implement an educational outreach program with dune
stewards to minimize and manage human use of the beach to prevent
ecological damage. Invasive purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and
common reed (Phragmites australis) threaten the marsh habitat and
should continue to be eradicated. Water level fluctuations from flood
control efforts may have a detrimental impact on native cattails (Typha
latifolia). Inventory and monitoring of at-risk species should continue
at the site. During the first round of IBA site identifications, this site
was recognized under the research criterion because a long-term
monitoring project is based there.