North Harmony State Forest consists of 2,561 acres of deciduous forest, conifer plantations, wetlands and a large pond. It is owned and managed by the State of New York Department of Environmental Conservation. You can find it on the DEC website here with a map page here and a PDF map here. Apart from birding, hiking and other wildlife watching snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, picnicking, camping, fishing and hunting are all permitted at applicable times in North Harmony State Forest. It is also one of the sites included in our Winter Trails Cell Phone Tour.
Natural History Interest
These were among the marginal agricultural lands purchased by the people of New York State starting in the 1930’s for timber production, recreation, watershed protection and wildlife habitat. During the Great Depression the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established by President Franklin Roosevelt to provide employment for young men. North Harmony State Forest was the scene of CCC projects to identify boundary lines, work on forest protection activities such controlling blister rust (a fungus disease of pine trees), and plant thousands of pine, larch and spruce trees in old farm fields. Today, the conifer stands are being managed with a series of partial thinnings to encourage growth of native Eastern Hemlock and hardwoods such as Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Black Cherry, White Ash, and American Beech.
Who To Contact
DEC lists contact numbers for the site as the State Forest Office (Monday through Friday, 8AM -4 PM): (716) 363-2052 and Forest Ranger (Evenings, Weekends and Holidays): (716) 771-7180
How To Get There
To reach the North Harmony State Forest, take County Road 33 south (towards Panama) from exit 7 (Panama, Chautauqua Institution) off I-86. Continue on County Road 33 approximately 6.0 miles to the traffic light at the intersection of County Road 33 and NY 474. Turn right onto NY 474. Continue on NY 474 approximately 1.9 miles. A parking area and access to the Cusimano Trail are located here on the right side of the road.
What To See
Baseline data for all forms of life is still being collected at North Harmony State Forest after a few initial visits by RTPI staff. To view the eBird hotspot of the site complete with recent bird sightings click on this link. To view an eBird bar chart page of all recorded sightings click on this link. The visitor to this important headwater area in late summer will enjoy the sight of wetland meadows filled with wildflowers such as Spotted Touch-me-not, Boneset, Spotted Joe-pye Weed, and even the rare and beautiful Cardinal-flower, which Roger Tory Peterson described as “America’s favorite.” Some birds that are likely to be seen here are Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Wood Duck, Belted Kingfisher, Alder Flycatcher, Veery, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Magnolia Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Hooded Warbler, and Ovenbird. The number of birds recorded on the site will likely exceed 200 species with some active survey effort in the next decade. The sheer size and diversity of the property mean that dozens of dragonfly, damselfly and butterfly species will be found and recorded there in time.
Why It’s Important To Conservation
Contiguous forest and wetlands of this size are an impressive area to preserve for all of the wildlife and plants previously noted. The land, predominantly upland forest between elevations of 1600 and 1900 feet, also produces the headwaters of Prendergast Creek, Little Brokenstraw Creek, French Creek, and Goose Creek. Plus, much of the northwest section of the North Harmony State Forest (from which three of these streams flow) is excellent wetland. Each stream flows away from the site in different directions and empties into different bodies of water. Little Brokenstraw Creek flows southeast where it empties into Brokenstraw Creek. French Creek flows northwest before trending southward. Prendergast Creek flows northeast into Chautauqua Lake, and Goose Creek flows southeast into Chautauqua Lake.