In the lowland coniferous forests of New York, the spruce grouse
has been minding its own business amongst the spruce and tamarack trees. The boreal forests that New York's spruce grouse call home are characterized by their mossy carpets and conifer trees. Boreal, meaning northern, suggests that the spruce grouse tend to inhabit more northern regions than the Adirondacks but the Adirondacks are a unique place where the boreal forest can exist. Certain areas of the Adirondack Park are conducive to the spruce grouse, most notably the northwestern section of the park, where the topography is much different than the renowned mountainous High Peaks region. But after years of declining populations, the species is stuck between a moss-covered rock and a hard place.
Luckily for the spruce grouse, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is here to help. In a press release on Feb. 3, 2012
, the DEC announced a proposed a plan for spruce grouse recovery.
The details of the proposed plan
Since December 1999, the spruce grouse has been listed on New York's Endangered Species List. The ultimate goal of the recovery plan is to remove the spruce grouse from the list. For that to happen, the spruce grouse population would need to be restored, first of all, and then sustained and protected. Not only the spruce grouse would need to be protected and restored, though: the boreal habitat the spruce grouse live in would also need to be a part of the recovery plan, because the habitat has suffered just as much as the spruce grouse.
The DEC has devised a 12 Step Action Plan to reach the goal. Ranging from reintroduction of some spruce grouse into prime habitat to studying boreal habitat recovery elsewhere to educational programs in the Adirondacks, the DEC has a very thorough platform to work from. Also, an extensive survey of all current and potential, as well as historic, locations for spruce grouse will be completed. A full copy of the Recovery Plan for New York Populations of the Spruce Grouse
is available online.
Spruce grouse habitats in New York look like this. Above: The moss covered ground in the boreal spruce-fir forest. Below: Spruce grouse, in New York, can be found around the edges of the lowland peatlands, such as the bog pictured below.
The DEC is accepting comments on the plan until March 1, 2012, which is when the 30-day public comment period ends. Questions or comments can be mailed to:
Albany, NY 12233-4754
Hopefully the efforts of the DEC and those who helped draft the plan will be successful and this unique bird will continue to exist at the most southern extent of its range, in the Adirondacks.
Photos: Janelle Hoh