Valuable Species: Plants, Animals, and Aquatic-life
The biggest conservation land-owner in Split Rock Wildway, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (with about 4000 acres in Split Rock Wildway and 2.8 million across the Park, plus another half million throughout the state, the second biggest complex being in the Catskills), has the potential to become a player of national significance in wildlife corridor protection and in carbon sequestration. Split Rock Wildway is full of biological riches that we need to preserve (and even increase).
Jerry Jenkins, author of the Adirondack Atlas, Climate Change in the Adirondacks, and the upcoming Northern Forest Atlas series, showed in his plant associations report for WCS and ANC that the West Champlain Hills are botanically one of the richest areas in the Northeast, rare in this region for their dry yet rich oak/hickory/hophornbeam community. Jerry has catalogued dozens of fertility indicators and xeric specialists here that are rare or absent elsewhere in the Park, including White and Chestnut Oaks, Rafinesque Vibernum, Douglas Knotweed, Round-leaf Gooseberry, Leatherwood, and Woodland Sunflower.
The West Champlain Hills are also rich in animals; and Split Rock Wildway is home or movement habitat for many shy, sensitive, or wide-ranging species. Among focal species seen here (many of which Keeping Track has formally documented) are Black Bear, Bobcat, Coyote, Ermine and Long-tailed Weasel, Mink, Fisher, River Otter, Red and Gray Foxes, Moose, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Wood Duck, Hooded Merganser, Great Blue and Green Herons, Timber Rattlesnake, Eastern Spiny Soft-shell Turtle, Spotted Salamander, at least seven frog and toad species …
The great water off Split Rock Wildway, between the Adirondack and Green Mountains, Lake Champlain, is itself worthy of top conservation attention. Historically, Lake Champlain supported populations of American Eel, Landlocked Atlantic Salmon, Lake Sturgeon, Lake Trout, Brook Trout, Sauger, Brook Lamprey, and even Harbor Seal. The seal and several of these fish have been eliminated or greatly reduced by past over-exploitation and dams on lake tributaries. Some of the same groups leading land protection efforts in Split Rock Wildway are also turning attention to the related needs of aquatic species, which will greatly benefit from forest protection but also need removal of artificial dams and exotic species.
Continue reading this series:
Note: The content in this blog post was repurposed and a revised version is included in John Davis’s book Split Rock Wildway: Scouting the Adirondack Park’s Most Diverse Wildlife Corridor published by Essex Editions on Nov. 21, 2017. Learn more about the book and where to buy it at essexeditions.com. Watch the book trailer below.
- Serpentine Splendors: Snakes of Split Rock Wildway (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Split Rock Wildway: Creating and Protecting a Wildlife Corridor (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Restore the Adirondack Wolf (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Skinks at Split Rock Wildway (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Songbird Mysteries (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- The Eddy Foundation Protects Adirondacks (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Spring Song: Frogs of the Adirondacks (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Lewis Family Farm sells two parcels for preservation (pressrepublican.com)