Triangle State Forest (Broome) During the War of 1812, many of the nation’s capital buildings were burned, damaged or destroyed. Anson Seymour, son of one of Triangle’s first settlers, capitalized on the reconstruction of the capital by selling white pine logs to the Federal government. He rafted “vast” amounts of old growth white pine down the Tioughnioga River, into the Chenango River, into the Susquehanna River and down to the Chesapeake Bay. To this day, some of our national buildings contain lumber grown in the Town of Triangle.
Summer Hill State Forest (Cayuga) he first settlers on or near the Hewitt- Cayuga Highlands arrived in 1792 in the town of Niles and later traveled to Moravia, Locke, Sempronius, Scott, and Summer Hill. Nathaniel Fillmore, one of the first to settle in Summer Hill, was the father of U.S. President Millard Fillmore. The majority of Summer Hill State Forest was purchased by the state in parcels during the 1930’s. During this period, lands that had once been cleared for agriculture were restored to forests in an attempt to counteract the crashing economy and loss of jobs. The planting of trees not only created new job opportunities for hundreds of young men, but the forest products themselves would restore the hope to hundreds. The forest is said to have been named as such because it was a place that people only wanted to be in the summer. Whereas the winter brought extremely cold temperatures, a retreat into the hills during summer provided cool relief to the sun’s intense heat.
Stone Hill State Forest (Oswego) As with the majority of other state forests, the land that now encompasses Stone Hill State Forest was originally purchased for reforestation by the State of New York during the 1930s. Up until this point, the landscape had been comprised of a diverse matrix of crop lands, open fields, forest, meadows and homesteads. Unfortunately, the upland soils of the Tug Hill Plateau are highly acidic, rocky and of a very course texture. Taken together with the intense winters which blanket the area, it is easy to understand why many of the early farms were unsuccessful. As methods of transportation became more readily accessible, farmers moved to the mid-west where winters were less harsh and land was more productive. The Roosevelt Administration developed the State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931. These two bills authorized the Conservation Department to acquire land, by gift or purchase, for reforestation areas. State Forests, consisting of no less than 500 acres of contiguous land , were to be “forever devoted to reforestation and the establishment and maintenance thereon of forests for watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, and kindred purposes” (Article 9, Titles 5 and 7, Environmental Conservation Law)
South Hill State Forest (Chenango) An atlas of Chenango County, published in 1875, shows several homes that were located on what is now the South Hill State Forest. These homes belonged to: W. Penn, N. Morgan, W. Hovey, I. Bennet and H. Evans. There was also a school house located at the intersection of Charles Wicks Road and Hohreiter Road
Shindagin Hollow State Forest (Tompkins) The Shindagin Hollow State Forest is located on the Allegheny Plateau, which is made of sedimentary bedrock that formed some 350 million years ago when the region was covered by an ancient saltwater sea. Geologists believe that the plateau was created during a collision of the North American and African continents some 250 to 330 million years ago. The collision lifted the bedrock, which has since been shaped by continual weathering and the advance and retreat of continental ice sheets (glaciers). The glaciers created the ‘U’ shaped valleys of the region and the Finger Lakes. The last glacier left New York State about 10,000 years ago. Human settlement followed the retreat of the glacier. Tompkins County was originally home to members of the Iroquois Confederation or Haudenosaunee, specifically the Cayuga Nation. The Haudenosaunee was established in circa 1570 under the influence of Hiawatha. It was a bond between five nations: the Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, Mohawk, and the Onondaga. In 1715, the Tuscarora nation was added making it a league of six nations. The Cayuga’s, who were the main inhabitants of the Tompkins County area, did not use the land heavily. They had semi-permanent dwellings placed near freshwater sources which enabled them to locate and transport game, as well as irrigate their crops without causing great stress to the land. Early settlers and Revolutionary War Veterans referred to the area as “Dark Forest” because the forest was so dense that only small traces of light penetrated through the canopy. However, the new settlers had many superstitions involving forests, and they had little or no experience in producing forest goods. They therefore decided to clear the area almost entirely for use as farmland. The timber that was not used for carpentry was burned, becoming a valuable byproduct known as potash. This process continued until almost the entire land was converted from dense forest to open fields, leaving the landscape seemly forever changed. Soils on area hilltops, however, have major limitations for intensive crop production, including a seasonally high water table, low fertility, moderate to high acidity and steep slopes. Early farmers quickly learned that the combination of long, harsh winters and thin, fine textured upland soils would not support intensive agriculture. As such, many of the farmlands were sold or abandoned as farmers sought more fertile lands in the Midwest. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, the landscape would be transformed again. In order to reduce soil erosion, protect water quality, provide forest products and recreational opportunities, the State of New York began acquiring property for reforestation during the 1930’s under the auspices of the State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931. These laws allowed the Conservation Department to acquire land, by gift or purchase, for reforestation. Properties had to be a minimum of 500 acres of contiguous land. Although the Hewitt Amendment was a major acquisition catalyst throughout New York State, about 73% of Shindagin Hollow State Forest was acquired from the federal government in January of 1956. From 1933 to 1937, as part of Roosevelt Administration’s New Deal, the federal government purchased about 8 million acres in the Appalachians through what was called the sub-marginal land purchase program. The program purchased land with limited crop production capacity and in some cases promoted the resettlement of farm families whose land had been bought by the federal government. Van Etten Civilian Conservation Corp. Camp S-81, Caroline Center Youth Camp and New York State Conservation Department crews planted more than 2,231,700 tree seedlings on 2,105 acres from 1935 to 1952. Most of the seedlings were softwood species such as red pine, white pine, Norway spruce and Scotch pine. Today, forest covers about 67% of the surrounding landscape, while crop land and pasture cover about 27%.
Sandy Creek State Forest (Oswego) The land that encompasses Sandy Creek State Forest was last molded twelve thousand of years ago with the receding of the last massive glacier that covered the ground. The rocks that were left behind, shale and sandstone, underlie the area and help define the region. High levels of precipitation from snow melt and rain supply an abundance of wetlands, streams and rivers, all noted for their pristine character. The Roosevelt Administration developed the State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931 in order to authorize the Conservation Department to acquire land, by gift or purchase, for reforestation areas. These State Forests, consisting of no less than 500 acres of contiguous land, were to be “forever devoted to reforestation and the establishment and maintenance thereon of forests for watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, recreation and kindred purposes” (Article 9, Titles 5 and 7, Environmental Conservation Law). The majority of the land that now makes up Sandy Creek State Forest was originally purchased by New York State during the 1930s for reforestation purposes. Prior to this point, the landscape had been comprised of a matrix of crop lands, open fields, forest, meadows and homesteads. Unfortunately for many farmers, the upland soils that are commonly found in this area are thin, highly acidic, and predominately rocky and course. When taken together with the long, harsh winters which typically ravage the area, it is easy to understand why many of the early farms were unsuccessful. Since the area was purchased by the state Sandy Creek Forest has been managed to promote forest health, timber production, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. Today, the forest provides diverse economic, ecological and recreational services to the people of New York State.
Salmon River State Forest (Oswego) Originally the land now known as Salmon River State Forest was used exclusively by the Iroquois for hunting and fishing. However, as is the case with many of the lands that have since become managed by the state, the land was later cleared for farm land and timber by Revolutionary War Veterans and early settlers. However, the upland soils of the Tug Hill Plateau are characteristically rocky, highly acidic, and steep. Combined with the long and intense winters common to the region, it is easy to understand why many of these farmers were forced to abandon their properties and seek their fortune elsewhere. The State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931 provided legislation which authorized the Department of Conservation to acquire land, by gift or purchase, for reforestation areas. These State Forests, consisting of no less than 500 acres of contiguous land, were to be “forever devoted to reforestation and the establishment and maintenance thereon of forests for watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, and kindred purposes” (Article 9, Title 5, Environmental Conservation Law). Salmon River State Forest was purchased by New York State during the 1930s for these purposes. It was during this period that lands cleared for agricultural practices were restored to forests. Reforestation reduced the problem of soil erosion, protected water quality, and provided forest products and recreational opportunities. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted thousands of conifer seedlings on the newly acquired lands. Evidence of their tremendous efforts can be seen today through the fully grown red pine, white pine, white spruce, Norway spruce, and European and Japanese larch, which cover the landscape
Salmon River Falls Unique Area (Oswego) Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Salmon River Falls was part of lands occupied by the Five Nations of the Iroquois Indians. The Salmon River Falls, located nineteen miles upstream from the mouth of the river where it enters Lake Ontario, was the upstream barrier to fish migration including native Atlantic salmon. The Onondaga, Oneida and Cayuga tribes of the Iroquois Nation used the falls as fishing ground where they annually harvested salmon. European settlement of the Salmon River area started in the early 1800’s. Atlantic Salmon runs ceased by the 1860’s as development of dams in the lower river blocked migration. The history and use of the Salmon River and Salmon River Falls from the early to late 1900’s was driven by the development of hydroelectric power facilities. In 1912 the Salmon River Reservoir was created to harness the water power diverting water from the fall through a 10,000 foot pipeline from the Salmon River Reservoir to the power station at Bennett’s Bridge. Summer flows were diverted to practically only leakage: the falls lost its tourist appeal. During the 1960’s public use increase along with camping, drinking and drug use, graffiti and cliff diving. Accidents resulted in injuries and deaths. In 1993 Niagara Mohawk Power Company was directed by the New York Power Authority to divest all the land they owned along the Salmon River which were not essential to their core business of hydroelectric generation. In 1993 Niagara Mohawk developed a comprehensive plan which guided the sale of land. As part of the plan Niagara Mohawk sold 1700 acres of land and 13 miles of conservation easements and fishing rights along the Salmon River to DEC. Salmon River Falls was part of that transaction. In 1996 when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission renewed Niagara Mohawk’s operating license a new requirement was made directing Niagara Mohawk to make minimum flow releases to enhance aesthetic beauty of the falls.
Robinson Hollow State Forest (Tioga) Robinson Hollow State Forest, like many of New York’s state forests, had originally been cleared and farmed by European settlers and Revolutionary War Veterans. Unfortunately, the upland soils of the Allegheny Plateau are thin, relatively steep and acidic. As such, the ground is not fit for intensive farming. When combined with harsh winters and a short growing season, it is quite understandable that farmers abandoned these lands in pursuit of more fertile properties in the Midwest. The Department of Environmental Conservation, under Article 9, Titles 5 and 7 of the Environmental Conservation Law, is authorized to manage lands outside the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. The forest is managed to conserve, protect and enhance wildlife diversity and habitat. Sustainable forest products such as firewood and sawtimber are produced as wildlife habitat is created and enhanced. Management, as defined by these laws, includes watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, recreation and kindred purposes. In order to reduce soil erosion, protect water quality, provide forest products and recreational opportunities, the State of New York started acquiring these abandoned properties during the 1930’s and planted thousands of trees, returning the land to forest. The majority of Robinson Hollow State Forest was purchased between 1934 and 1941. Five additional purchases were made in the 1960’s, with two more purchases in the 1980’s. The previous owners included the Oliver, Fitzcharles, Wattles, Beam, Dickenson, Wright, Allen, Hoaglin, Loring, Welch, Royce, Morton, Gardiner, Brown, Beebe, Wuensch, Cortright, and Donato families. Between 1935 and 1939, the Slaterville Springs Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp S-125 hand planted more than 793,000 tree seedlings on the land. Another 211,000 seedlings were added in 1962 by the Conservation Department, and more than 40,000 were planted in 1963 with just a tractor and a spade. The McCormick Youth Camp hand planted more than 57,000 tree seedlings in 1966 and 1967. In 1981, another 10,000 seedlings were added to the land in Robinson Hollow. The majority of the seedlings planted were softwood species, including Norway spruce, red pine, and white pine.
Potato Hill State Forest (Tompkins) Originally cleared for pastureland by European settlers and Revolutionary War Veterans, the land that is now Potato Hill State Forest offered limited reward for most farming attempts. The upland soils of the Allegheny Plateau are characteristically thin, steep and acidic. When combined with harsh winters and short growing seasons, the land proved unproductive and farms were abandoned as settlement was attempted elsewhere. The State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931 set forth new legislation that authorized the Conservation Department to acquire land, by gift or purchase, for reforestation areas. These state forests, consisting of no less than 500 acres of contiguous land were to be “forever devoted to reforestation and the establishment and maintenance thereon of forests for watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, recreation and kindred purposes” (Article 9, Title 5, Environmental Conservation Law). The majority of Potato Hill State Forest was acquired in 1938 and 1940, with two additional purchases in 1975 and 1980. The name of this forest attests to the large scale planting of potatoes in the area by early Irish Immigrants. The highest Tompkins County production recorded was 316,334 bushels in 1845. By 1865, Tompkins County production had dropped to 166,300 bushels, but potatoes were still raised on a decreasing scale until the 1960’s. Previous owners of the land included the Kendall, Hotaling, Royce, Cortright, Delola and Michaud families, as well as the Federal Land Bank. Because soil erosion was a serious problem on the newly acquired farmlands, a massive tree planting campaign began. The labor used to create these tree plantations was provided by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a work program established by the Roosevelt Administration to create jobs. The Slaterville Springs Camp S-125, hand planted more than 602,000 tree seedlings on Potato Hill State Forest between 1939 and 1941. In 1965, the Caroline Center Youth Camp hand planted an additional 2,000 trees. Almost all the seedlings planted were softwood species, with Norway spruce, red pine and white pine being the most frequently planted species.