Tug Hill is a relatively unfragmented landscape located between the
eastern end of Lake Ontario and the Adirondack Mountains. It is
ecologically distinct from the Adirondacks and Catskills. Alkaline shale
and sandstone-based soils help buffer the area from acid atmospheric
deposition. The land of this gently sloping plateau is owned by a
variety of private individuals, non-profit organizations, corporations,
and local and state governments. Tug Hill is the source of 11 different
rivers and streams, and is a mosaic of diverse and extensive wetlands.
A remote core area of wetlands and spruce-northern hardwood forest
uninterrupted by paved roads is found at the highest elevations (1,700-
2,100'). According to the NY GAP land cover data, approximately 90%
of the site is forested, which includes deciduous wetland, evergreen
northern hardwood, evergreen plantation, evergreen wetland, sugar
maple mesic, and successional hardwood forests

Ornithological Summary

This site supports a number of characteristic forest breeders, including
the Ruffed Grouse, Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker,
Eastern Wood-Pewee, Least Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher,
Blue-headed Vireo, Veery, Bicknell?s Thrush, Wood Thrush,
Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Blue
Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler,
Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Canada Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Purple Finch.
At-risk species that have been documented at the site in recent years
include the American Black Duck, American Bittern, Sharp-shinned
Hawk, Northern Goshawk, American Woodcock, Wood Thrush,
and Canada Warbler. Bald Eagles have historically bred at this site.

Conservation Issues

A portion of this site is listed in the 2002 Open Space Conservation
Plan under the project name Tug Hill Core Forests and Headwater
Streams. In 2002, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) purchased
approximately 44,300 acres in the East Branch of the Fish Creek
watershed. TNC retained ownership of approximately 14,000 acres
of this total, and sold approximately 30,300 acres to a private timber
company, GMO Renewable Resources. TNC retained a conservation
easement on the 30,300 acres, and title to 1,350 acres of riparian buffer
along the East Branch of the Fish Creek to help protect this area.
TNC plans to transfer the 30,300-acre conservation easement and
1,350-acre riparian buffer to NYS DEC, and convey a conservation
easement to NYS DEC that will permanently protect the 14,000
acres they currently own. The Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust
holds easements on approximately 1,000 acres. Threats to this area
include unsustainable logging, residential and camp development,
and ATV use in sensitive areas. Additional protection and outreach
to private landowners is needed to encourage sustainable forestry
and responsible recreational use.

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