Conservation and Management
Rich hemlock-hardwood peat swamps are threatened by development (e.g., agriculture, residential), habitat alteration (e.g., excessive logging, sediment and pollution run-off), and recreational overuse (e.g., hiking trails, horse trails, ATVs, campgrounds). Alteration to the natural hydrological regime is also a threat to this community (e.g., impoundments, blocked culverts, beaver). A few swamps are threatened by over-browsing by deer. Several rich hemlock-hardwood peat swamps are threatened by invasive species, such as purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). Hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) is an exotic species that could potentially have a devastating effect on hemlock trees in New York. This exotic "sap-sucker" has only recently begun to spread through the forests of the northeastern United States. Without control measures, insect-infected trees will probably die within three to four years (McClure et al. 2001, Bishop 2002, Ward et al. 2004). Although current adelgid infestations are primarily confined to southeastern New York, in 2002 adelgid infestation was newly observed in Monroe County (USDA Forest Service 2002).
Conservation Strategies and Management Practices
Where practical, establish and maintain a natural wetland buffer to reduce storm-water, pollution, and nutrient run-off, while simultaneously capturing sediments before they reach the wetland. Buffer width should take into account the erodibility of the surrounding soils, slope steepness, and current land use. Wetlands protected under Article 24 are known as New York State "regulated" wetlands. The regulated area includes the wetlands themselves, as well as a protective buffer or "adjacent area" extending 100 feet landward of the wetland boundary (NYS DEC 1995). If possible, minimize the number and size of impervious surfaces in the surrounding landscape. Avoid habitat alteration within the wetland and surrounding landscape. For example, roads and trails should be routed around wetlands, and ideally not pass through the buffer area. If the wetland must be crossed, then bridges and boardwalks are preferred over filling. Restore swamps that have been affected by unnatural disturbance (e.g., remove obsolete impoundments and ditches in order to restore the natural hydrology). Prevent the spread of invasive exotic species into the wetland through appropriate direct management, and by minimizing potential dispersal corridors, such as roads.
Development and Mitigation Considerations
When considering road construction and other development activities, minimize actions that will change what water carries and how water travels to this community, both on the surface and underground. Water traveling over-the-ground as run-off usually carries an abundance of silt, clay, and other particulates during (and often after) a construction project. While still suspended in the water, these particulates make it difficult for aquatic animals to find food; after settling to the bottom of the wetland, these particulates bury small plants and animals and alter the natural functions of the community in many other ways. Thus, road construction and development activities near this community type should strive to minimize particulate-laden run-off into this community. Water traveling on the ground or seeping through the ground also carries dissolved minerals and chemicals. Road salt, for example, is becoming an increasing problem both to natural communities and as a contaminant in household wells. Fertilizers, detergents, and other chemicals that increase the nutrient levels in wetlands cause algae blooms and eventually an oxygen-depleted environment where few animals can live. Herbicides and pesticides often travel far from where they are applied and have lasting effects on the quality of the natural community. So, road construction and other development activities should strive to consider: 1. how water moves through the ground, 2. the types of dissolved substances these development activities may release, and 3. how to minimize the potential for these dissolved substances to reach this natural community.
Survey for occurrences statewide to advance documentation and classification of rich hemlock-hardwood peat swamps. Continue searching for large sites in good condition especially those over 100 acres.
Research composition of rich hemlock-hardwood peat swamps statewide in order to characterize variations. Collect sufficient plot data to support the recognition of several distinct rich hemlock-hardwood peat swamp types based on composition and by ecoregion.
- Carex buxbaumii (Brown Bog Sedge)
- Carex schweinitzii (Schweinitz's Sedge)
- Carex vaginata (Sheathed Sedge)
- Cirriphyllum piliferum (Hair-pointed Moss)
- Corallorhiza striata var. striata (Striped Coralroot)
- Cypripedium candidum (Small White Lady's Slipper)
- Neottia convallarioides (Broad-lipped Twayblade)
- Poa paludigena (Slender Marsh Blue Grass)
- Pyrola asarifolia ssp. asarifolia (Pink Shinleaf)
- Symphyotrichum boreale (Northern Bog Aster)
- Trollius laxus (Spreading Globeflower)