I apologize for the short notice, but it has come to my attention that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) is hosting a ‘public availability session’ on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the Dansville High School cafeteria at 284 Main Street in Dansville to provide information on a recently finalized habitat management plan for the Rattlesnake Hill Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The meeting will include a presentation and time for questions. An open house begins at 6:30 p.m. with the presentation at 7 p.m.
Word has it that this new plan no longer allows horses on the long-standing riding trails, although hunting and fishing will be unaffected. So why the change? What is the rationale?
Although not heavily used by trail-riders, the lovely setting with an interesting blend of upland habitats is valued by anyone who appreciates the outdoors, which trail-riders most assuredly do. The 5,100 acre tract is situated approximately eight miles west of Dansville. Roughly two-thirds of the area lies in southern Livingston County, while the remaining third lies in northern Allegany County. Adjacent to the tract are two parcels of state forest lands totaling approximately 2,600 acres where riding is allowed, which would be impacted by this closure as far as accessibility to the full network of existing trails.
The greater fear is that this action could act as a precedent for such actions in other areas of the state. It is hoped that a strong turnout by horse people will have some effect in reversing this unfortunate decision.
The primary purpose of the Rattlesnake Hill WMA is for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. The presence of a couple of horse trails certainly has no negative effect on that primary purpose, but a positive effect on the public, tax-payers’ enjoyment of our area. The Rattlesnake Hill tract was purchased in the 1930’s under the Federal Resettlement Administration and is one of several such areas turned over to DEC for development as a wildlife management area. The area is appropriately named after the Timber Rattlesnake, which may be occasionally found in the more remote sections of the ‘Hill.’
Please help spread the word to equestrians of all stripes, urging them to stand together in support of this benign appreciation of nature with an equine companion.