Capital District Wildlife Management Area – This is where much of my mountain biking takes place. In addition to the marked trails, there is also miles and miles of double-track, power line trails and dirt road. And, if I want to ride from home, I can easily get a 30+ mile mountain bike ride.
The 4153 acre Capital District Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was acquired from 1928 to 1941 for use as a game management area and game refuge. Prior to acquisition, the main human activities on the area had been subsistence farming and charcoal burning. During the 1930’s and 40’s a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp was operated at the WMA and many projects, including the dam for the Black River Pond and the roads on the management area were completed. The WMA was used as a stocking site during the beaver reintroduction program of the 1930’s, and in 1944 the refuge designation was dropped, and the entire area became a wildlife management area.
Located in the Towns of Stephentown and Berlin in Rensselaer County, there are seven miles of public truck trails with several small parking areas and numerous pull offs throughout the road network. Additional public access to the interior of the WMA is provided by nine miles of multiple use trails for hiking, skiing, mountain biking and horseback riding. Cherry Plain State Park, nestled within the WMA, is managed by the Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservations.
The Capital District WMA is situated at the southern end of a geologic feature known as the Rensselaer Plateau and is covered with semi-mature to mature stands of black cherry, sugar maple, yellow birch, hemlock, red oak, and red spruce. Black spruce, tamarack and balsam fir occur in the characteristic bog-like wetlands on the area. The topography is quite flat except on the eastern edge which drops into the Kinderhook Creek valley.
Wildlife on the area are typical of forests and forest edge habitats including white-tailed deer, snowshoe hare, beaver, otter, fisher, bobcat, raccoon, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, woodcock, a variety of songbirds, woodland raptors, reptiles and amphibians. Recently, moose have entered Rensselaer County from neighboring states and moose now reside on the WMA. Moose sign, such as young striped maple stripped of bark, tracks, and piles of scat is very common throughout the WMA and moose are regularly seen.
The Capital District WMA provides opportunities for many types of outdoor recreation including hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife observation, x country skiing, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Hunting, trapping and fishing are governed by statewide rules and regulations. Thirteen miles of town roads and state truck trails provide access to the area and a network of foot trails continues to be developed. CDWMA is managed for non-intensive recreation consistent with its wildlife management function. Those seeking more intensive day use areas should visit the nearby Cherry Plain and Grafton Lakes State Parks.
Habitat management is accomplished primarily through commercial timber harvests that are used to increase habitat diversity by creating various kinds of forest canopy openings. Recent timber harvests have been aimed at improving snowshoe hare habitat. Other planned timber harvests will be used to create a patchwork of different stages of early successional habitat that will benefit a variety of species.
Other routine management actions included mowing to maintain grassy openings and apple tree maintenance.
Rules and Regulations
Public use of Capital District WMA is governed by Environmental Conservation Law 11-2101 and 6NYCRR 51
Hunting, trapping, and fishing are allowed, except as specifically prohibited by posted notice.
The following are prohibited:
• Use of motorized boats
• Overnight storage of boats
• Off road vehicle use
• Snowmobile use except as specifically permitted by signs
• Cutting, removing or damaging living vegetation without the written permission of the Regional Wildlife Manager
• Construction of permanent blinds or other structures
• Any activity specifically prohibited by signs posted