This site consists of a large area of abandoned farmland located on a
ridge between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes in the Finger Lakes Region.
Between 1938 and 1941 over 100 farms were acquired, and the U.S.
Forest Service now owns the site. The area is made up of three
successional communities: nearly 6,000 acres of grassland, about 2,500
acres of shrubland, and over 7,500 acres of deciduous upland forest.
The grasslands are kept open through a cattle grazing lease program.
According to the NY GAP land cover data, approximately 20% of this
site is open habitat, which includes cropland and old field/pastureland.
The site is now managed as a multiple use area for recreation, grazing,
wildlife conservation, timber, education, and research.
The site is particularly important as a grassland bird breeding site for
Northern Harriers (annual breeders), Upland Sandpipers (though
none since 1990), Horned Larks, Sedge Wrens (one pair in 1997),
Vesper Sparrows (one pair in 1997, presumed breeding), Savannah
Sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows (confirmed nesting), Henslow?s
Sparrows (30-45 pairs in 1997, not confirmed recently), Bobolinks,
and Eastern Meadowlarks. Additional at-risk species found at the site
include the Sharp-shinned Hawk (several nesting records), Cooper?s
Hawk (several nesting records), Northern Goshawk (at least one pair),
Red-shouldered Hawk (possible breeder), Short-eared Owl (migrant),
Willow Flycatcher (known nester), and Wood Thrush (confirmed
nester). Clay-colored sparrows were seen at the site in 2004. The site
hosts a great variety of breeding birds (119 species) among its diverse
habitats, including characteristic deciduous forest breeding birds. The
site is also becoming important to shrub-breeding species such as the
Blue-winged Warbler, Eastern Towhee, and Field Sparrow.
The grassland and shrub habitats at this site would eventually grow up
into forest without active management. Currently, grassland areas are
kept open through a combination of grazing, mowing, hand cutting,
and in some areas, burning. Groups including hikers, horseback riders,
mountain bikers, hunters, and campers use the area. The levels of such
use should continue to be monitored to prevent negative impacts on
birds like the Northern Goshawk. The Finger Lakes Land Trust is
working to secure conservation easements on properties adjoining
the National Forest. The possibility of oil and gas exploration was
considered in 2002. In August 2002, the Senate Energy and Natural
Resources Committee passed a bill to prohibit oil and gas drilling in
the Finger Lakes National Forest in the State of New York. The bill
is now before the full Senate and would permanently ban permitting
or leasing for oil or gas drilling in the Finger Lakes National Forest.
Bird research, including inventory and monitoring, 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.