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Selkirk Shores State Park
Pulaski, New York
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PHOTO www.nysgis.state.ny.us

Se1kirk Shores State Park
Oswego County, New York

Selkirk Shores State Park is on the east shore of Lake Ontario, between the Salmon River and Grindstone Creek. This 980-acre multiple use facility is located in historic Oswego County on a bluff above the lakeshore, offering spectacular views of sunsets on the Lake. With 148 campsites, 26 cabins, camp store and recreation building, the park attracts many visitors who stay for several days. Boat launch sites are located at Pine Grove serve smaller boats, and at nearby Mexico Point offers a boat launch for larger craft. The park has over three miles of hiking trails which also serve snowmobilers and cross country skiers in the winter.

Nearby is Port Ontario on the Salmon River, one of the earliest permanent settlements in the area, established in 1836. But by 1877, the once bustling Port Ontario could no longer compete with the City of Oswego to the south at the Mmouth of the Oswego River, and so reverted to a quiet hamlet.

The park was first established in 1925 to support recreational access to Lake Ontario by the public. Admininstration buildings, bathouse and parking were completed by 1929. In 1933-37, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed campgrounds, cabins and park office. Gradually over the 20th century additionalland purchases expanded the size of the park

First Survey Team Visit
April 12, 2002
Team Members: Robert Henry, Tom Howard

The park was visited by the Central New York Old Growth Survey Team on April 12, 2002. The area was heavily logged in early settlement, and no virgin or original forest has survived, yet the survey team has identified three areas that have significant old growth characteristics:

  • Pine Grove Boat Launch (1.5 acres)
  • Day Use Picnic Area (about 10 acres)
  • Woodland Trai1 Forest (about 8 acres)

    Tree Data
    SpeciesGirthTree RingsComments
    White Pine30.7112 ringsbranch-stump of co-leader 20 ft. up; early rings very wide, later rings narrow, age estimate: l30 years
    White Pine107 rings115 yrs stump, 1.15 ft. radius
    White Pine33.6by road
    Red Oak63 ringsstump 7" radius
    White Pine29.62 leaders
    White Pine30.4sapling pine at base, tree has 2 leaders
    White Pine29.7
    White Pine23.9fire scar
    White Pine138 ringsstump radius .7 ft. decaying center; tree age est. l50 years
    White Pine29.2
    White Pine25.3
    White Pine29.6
    White Pine80 ringsstump 5.2" radius
    White Pine140 ringsold stump radius 1.1 ft.; tree l50 yrs. old
    White Pine31.6by gravel road
    Also some large open-grown White pines by Boat Launch
    White Pine40.1largest Pine seen
    White Pine37.6
    Site 1:
    Pine Grove Boat Launch

    1.5 acres

    Dominant: White Pine
    Associate: Red Oak, Black Cherry, Red Maple (small), Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch

    This second-growth White Pine stand is extremely beautiful. Old-growth White Pine is rare or non-existent in this region, and this is the only substantial stand of older (over 100 years) White Pine we've found in central NY. The Pines average 80-90 feet tall, and 24-28 inch dbh. The Pines are forest-grown, straight and tall, and of many ages, down to seedlings, grow under them. This site is not old-growth, as it lacks characteristic pit and mound windfall topography, and the oldest Pines are only 130-150 years. The site possibly occupies a field abandoned between 1840 and 1850.

    Tree Data
    SpeciesGirthTree RingsComments
    Red Oak45.6biggest tree on site, partly forest-grown
    Red Oak38.1
    Red Oak146 ringsstump radius 1 ft.; tree age 122 years old
    Site 2:
    Day Use Picnic Area

    about 10 acres

    Dominant: Red Oak, Sugar Maple
    Associate: Beech, Hop Hornbeam, Basswood, White Pine, Hemlock, White Ash, Black Cherry, Shagbark Hickory, White Cedar, Red Pine, Paper Birch, Black Locust, Red Maple

    This site consists of big trees in lawns, and is not a forest. The largest trees are Red Oaks that seem to be 150-200 years old, but most trees should be younger. The biggest Red Oaks have been topped, with tops cut off.

    Tree Data
    Speciesdbh (inches)Tree RingsComments
    Beechl05stump radius 1.1 feet; tree age 115 years
    Beechl00stump radius 6.5 inches; tree age 115 years
    White Ash25.5
    White Ashl70!stump radius .85 feet; inner rings narrow, compressed, outer rings wide; indicates grew in a forest; growth accelerated when tree reached canopy; age est. 190 years
    White Ash27.1
    Sugar Maple125log radius .7 feet; fell from 25 ft. up
    Sugar Maple32.6shaggy old-age bark; tree age est. at least 200 years!
    Hemlock24.7
    Beechlog: extreme spiral grain
    Sugar Maple30.6balding bark of old age
    Beech26.2~180log radius .85 feet from 20 ft. up; rings, very tight and compressed, age est. 220 years!
    Beech23.5next to above, still alive but with severe bark wound
    Sugar Maple170stump radius 1.7 feet; on hill near road; tree age est. l90 years
    White Ash30.7leaning precariously
    Red Oak33.2
    Red Oakgiant in hollow; one of largest Red Oaks in NY, over 200 years old; 3 trunks (coppiced), each trunk diameter 40 inches or more!; diameter of one trunk: 43.3 inches!; dbh of all 3 trunks (where they rise from common center) incredible 84 inches (7 feet)! Coppicing normally occurs after tree is cut down, then sprouts from stump; possibly an early pioneer cut down a Red Oak in this forest before 1800
    Beech26.6alive (largest Beech trees seem to be unhealthy)
    Sugar Maple28.6spiral grain, shaggy bark
    Site 3:
    Woodland Trail Forest
    behind Day Use Picnic area

    about 8 acres

    Dominant: Sugar Maple, Beech (most large logs are Beech)
    Co-Dominant: Red Oak in 1 section, White Ash in another
    Associate: White Pine, Hemlock, Yellow Birch, Paper Birch (near edges), Basswood, Red Maple, Hop Hornbeam

    This site has been determined to be an Old-Growth Forest, possibly the first old-growth forest to be documented in Oswego County! Old-growth signs are abundant, including pit and mound topography caused by the decay of wind-felled trees over a period of centuries, many logs in varying states of decay, snags (standing dead trees), trees that are very large for species and site, and ring counts from stumps and log cross-sections of from 150-180 years with trees potentially from 200-250 years .old. The site is on an exposed bluff at the east end of Lake Ontario, and strong winds cause the tree to have twisted crowns that are lower than would be normally the case in old-growth. Most trees in this stand appear to be 80-90 ft. tall, and few trees appear to be taller than that.

    Tom Howard
    Central NY Survey Team
    NY Old-Growth Forest Association
    April 13, 2002


    New York Old Growth Forest Association www.championtrees.org/NYOGFA/ updated: 9/4/2002