Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

July 03, 2013

Randy Simons
Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868

State Parks’ Invasive Species Strike Team Improves Bird Conservation Area at Thacher State Park

Project will improve visitors' view and hawk habitat

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) announced its statewide invasive species strike team is visiting John Boyd Thacher State Park this week, working to remove the hazardous and non-native Common Buckthorn tree from its roots which will prevent any future intrusive growth along the park's popular Escarpment Trail.

"Environmental stewardship is fundamental to our agency's mission," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. "The work this team completes will be enormously impactful in preserving New York's parks as natural treasures for future generations to continue to cherish and enjoy."

Currently, the dense growth of buckthorn, a small tree, blocks visitors' view over the escarpment, the main reason for the park's original development, and prevents the growth of larger trees which hawks and other raptors use for habitation and as shields while hunting for food. The strike team is working to remove the plant to keep it from resprouting on and near the trail that follows the cliff edge for much of the length of the park. Thacher State Park's six miles of limestone cliff-face and rock-strewn slopes provide a popular locale for visitors to view a panorama of the Hudson-Mohawk Valleys and the Adirondack and Green Mountains. The park is also the site of one of 20 Bird Conservation Areas designated in State Parks across New York to safeguard and enhance bird populations and their habitats.

The strike team is made up of four members who focus their efforts on protecting the natural environment of state parks by preventing the spread of invasive plants: a wide range of species that are non-native to the area in question; can be harmful in terms of health and safety, in ways that include hazardous trail erosion, the harboring of large concentrations of ticks, etc.; or can have damaging effects on the environment, including the alteration of forest structures and the threatening of rare species. Funding for the statewide State Parks strike team was provided through Governor Cuomo's New York Works initiative.

"We commend Commissioner Harvey and OPRHP staff for their ongoing commitment to enhancing Bird Conservation Areas at State Parks through invasive species eradication efforts and other important habitat improvements," said Erin Crotty, Executive Director of Audubon New York. "The concentrated invasive Buckthorn removal project launched at John B. Thacher State Park builds on recent efforts initiated by the Audubon Society of the Capital Region, and will go a long way to improving the Park's habitat for birds and people. We look forward to continuing to work with State Parks here and across the state to make similar enhancements at other BCAs impacted by invasive species through our Audubon in the Parks partnership."

The work began Monday, July 1, will be completed Wednesday, July 3, and will not disturb visitors. Strike team members are specially trained to educate the public on invasive species and their work if asked.

Interested persons should send inquiries for the invasive species team staff, regional biologists and other experts to:

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 179 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 60 million people annually. A recent study commissioned by Parks & Trails New York found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.