Tug Hill is known for its abundant natural resources, including forests, agricultural land, streams and wetlands that provide environmental benefits and support the regional economy that is largely dependent on a working landscape. Commission staff is available to assist local towns and villages, as well as organizations and residents, in managing those natural resources to support both the environment and the economy. This assistance often takes the form of watershed planning and projects, recreational efforts, natural resource restoration projects, and support on regional natural resource issues.
For an overview of the value of the natural resources on Tug Hill, please read the Tug Hill Natural Resources Fact Sheet.
More detail on some recent natural resource projects and/or issues is provided below.
Tug Hill – Adirondack Wildlife Habitat Connectivity
Maintaining connections between large forested areas like Tug Hill and the Adirondacks is critical for many wildlife species that require large ranges for survival. The Adirondack-Tug Hill Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Project is a collaborative undertaking by Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, Adirondack Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, Tug Hill Commission and others to identify areas of the Black River valley that seem optimum for wildlife movement between the two regions. Over the past three years, current knowledge of wildlife needs, computer modeling and on-the-ground data have been used to identify areas of special interest regarding wildlife movement.
Two priority areas have been identified through the work so far, one of which is the mostly forest and farm area in Northern Oneida County. Implementation of some measures has begun in that southern linkage (the towns of Ava, Boonville, Forestport, Remsen, Steuben, Trenton, and Western) to maintain and improve the landscape for wildlife habitat.
Implementation involves three primary approaches: working with towns on local land use planning; partnering with state, county, and town transportation/highway departments on ways to make roads easier for wildlife to cross; and engaging interested private landowners in land protection efforts.
Tug Hill Aquifer
The Tug Hill Aquifer is a 47-mile long, 103 mi2 aquifer system that extends from southern Jefferson County, through Oswego County and into Oneida County, and is the source of drinking water for eleven municipalities, as well as the source for private wells serving residences, manufactured home parks, camp-grounds, and other facilities. Water from the aquifer is also used for manufacturing, the dairy processing industry, agriculture, and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Fish Hatchery in Altmar. Several streams that are hydraulically connected to ground water in the central part of the aquifer are critical fish habitat for salmon and trout, and help support a significant recreational fishing economy.
Critical issues facing the aquifer are impacts from withdrawal and significant development pressure. The northern portion of the aquifer has been designated as a federal Sole Source Aquifer by the US Environmental Protection Agency, where it is the sole or principal source of drinking water for the Hamlet of Adams Center, Hamlet of Pierrepont Manor, Village of Adams, Village of Lacona, Village of Mannsville, and Village of Sandy Creek. Several large changes in withdrawal rates from the aquifer have occurred or have been proposed, including cessation of pumping of a well field for a paper company, purchase of those wells for expanded municipal water systems, a proposed water bottling operation, and declining yields from an aging well field at the state fish hatchery. There are concerns about increased long-term development over the aquifer. Local and state governments, commercial, farming, and individual water users need information to understand what effects these activities may have on the aquifer and how to sustain this resource in support of future growth and economic development.
For an update on the status of the Tug Hill Aquifer Study, please click this Tug Hill Aquifer Status Meeting, February 28, 2012