The Pharsalia Woods Unit Management Plan, covering 13,622 acres in western Chenango County, has been approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The plan includes four states forests: New Michigan, Pitcher Springs, Perkins Pond and Pigeon Hill which are located in the towns of Pharsalia, Plymouth, Pitcher, and Otselic.
“These forests offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities for all of the public including a lean-to for camping on Perkins Pond State Forest,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “DEC staff work diligently at maintaining our forests for multiple-uses and it clearly works well in places like Pharsalia Woods.”
“The high elevation forest habitats found at Pharsalia Woods make it standout as a critically important area on the Atlantic Flyway in Central New York, supporting a great diversity of forest breeding birds,” said Erin Crotty, Executive Director of Audubon New York. “We commend Commissioner Martens and the DEC staff for finalizing the Unit Management Plan and prioritizing actions that will ensure the high quality forests at the Bird Conservation Area are maintained, and economically important wildlife recreational opportunities are enhanced.”
Donald Windsor, who first proposed that Pharsalia Woods be named an Important Bird Area in July 1997, and member of the Chenango Bird Club, the New York Flora Association, the Chenango County Historical Association, the New York State Archaeological Association, the Bullthistle Hiking Club and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference noted, “The Unit Management planning process is useful to our organizations because the public meetings allow our suggestions to be integrated with those of other organizations. This broad-based contribution enables DEC to optimize the special interests of all its stakeholders to establish a multiple-purpose use of state land.”
“Our organization is especially in favor of the proposed relocation of the Finger Lakes hiking trail that will eliminate the present 1.8 miles of road walking and place the trail entirely on public lands with no road walking,” said Joe Dabes, former Director of Trail Inventory and Mapping of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and ten time end- to- ender of the 560 mile long main Finger Lakes Trail. “We also appreciate that the plan calls for a proposed new lean-to along the Finger Lakes Trail and relocation of the Plymouth Lean-to Trail which will eliminate the present 0.7 mile walk along Stewart Road, putting this section of the trail entirely in Pharsalia Woods State Forest.”
Stephen C. Catherman, Vice President of Trail Maintenance for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference noted, “It is a privilege and a pleasure to work with your organization to further our commitment to maintain a premier hiking trail across New York State. The Adopt a Natural Resource program and the agreement we have in place with you enables us to realize this goal. We hope to continue this cooperative relationship far into the future.”
Mark Money, Vice President of the Chenango Sno-Rides, a local snowmobile club that works with the DEC through an Adopt a Natural Resources Stewardship Program, said, “We worked closely with the DEC in creating a parking area at Camp Pharsalia so that snowmobilers can have a safe place to park their vehicles during the winters months. This has provided an excellent opportunity for the Snowmobiling community to park and load/unload vehicles and equipment safely. Our club keeps the parking area free of snow throughout the winter for anyone who wishes to use the parking area to access the forest. We appreciate the opportunity the DEC has provided in supplying the community with a safe environment to start and end the day of snowmobiling in Chenango County and beyond.”
The plan outlines management activities on the Unit for the next 20 years and defines goals and objectives for various issues, including biodiversity, timber and public recreation. The Audubon Society has designated a portion of the Unit in the town of Pharsalia as an “Important Bird Area” because it is a regional migratory concentration site and provides breeding habitat for a wide variety of forest nesting species.
Currently the forests in the Unit contain 231 acres of roads and developed areas, nine acres of quarries, 11 acres of open land, 58 acres of shrub land, 347 acres of open/shrub wetlands, 1,603 acres of forest wetlands, 751 acres of mixed hardwoods/natural conifers, 5,558 acres of natural hardwoods, and 5,054 acres of conifer plantation. The remote character of many areas on the Unit provide ideal conditions for recreational activities such as wildlife observation, pleasure driving, hiking, hunting, trapping and snowmobiling. The tornado that impacted this area in 1998 created approximately 1,000 acres of disturbed shrub/young-forest land with hundreds of standing snap trees. This area has attracted interest from the public for nature observation, as it is remarkably different from much of the surrounding area.
Hunting, fishing and trapping are permitted anywhere on the Unit, except where prohibited by regulation, law or sign. Snowmobiling is one of the most popular activities on the Unit. The Nine Mile Trail on New Michigan State Forest is part of the Corridor Trail 7 and is a popular regional destination for snowmobiling. A portion of the Finger Lakes Trail traverses through the Unit on Perkins Pond State Forest and New Michigan State Forest.
New Michigan State Forest’s name will be changed to Pharsalia Woods in the near future to more accurately reflect the history and geography of the area. All maps and information on the DEC web site will be updated to reflect this change.
The plan may be viewed online at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/67631.html. Copies of the plan on CD are available for pick up at the DEC Lands and Forests office in Sherburne, 2715 State Highway 80, and Sherburne, NY 13460