Steve Liscinsky Memorial Project, State Game Lands 278, Blair County, Pennsylvania

About the Liscinsky Memorial Project

Steve Liscinsky was a woodcock biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Throughout his career he worked in central Pennsylvania’s Bald Eagle Valley, including on State Game Lands 278. Liscinsky wrote The American Woodcock in Pennsylvania, published by the Game Commission in 1965. The Ruffed Grouse Society, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and Liscinsky’s friends and family helped fund this habitat-improvement project in his memory.

State Game Lands 278 lies in Blair County just south of the Centre County line. The tract totals 1,947 acres and includes a stream bottom and wetlands lying between a railroad track and a large power transmission line; higher up on Bald Eagle Mountain is an oak-hickory-maple forest. Deer, bear, beaver, waterfowl, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, many songbirds, and a range of reptiles and amphibians inhabit the game lands or stop there during migration. Woodcock use stands of alder and aspen in the low areas, which is where the habitat improvement efforts have so far been centered.

Improving the Land for Woodcock

Much of the alder was being used by woodcock before the project began. Rather than letting it all get old at the same time and become much less attractive to woodcock, wildlife managers began regenerating several areas totaling about 7 acres starting in 2006. The lowland proved too wet and muddy for a tree-shear machine, so technicians used chainsaws to cut down older, horizontal alder stems while leaving younger, more upright stems. The cut alder resprouted vigorously.

Photo of dense alder sprouts used as habitat by woodcock

After workers used chainsaws to cut overmature alder, the plants sent up dense sprouts that have rejuvenated this area as woodcock cover.

More handwork using chainsaws removed several stands of mature aspen spread over some 3 acres. The aspens’ root systems have sent up dense saplings, and the stands are gradually expanding in area. Thinning out the mature aspen let sunlight fall on small hawthorns in the understory, spurring the growth of these shrubs, which provide overhead cover for feeding woodcock as well as fruits for other birds and wildlife. Workers cut down swamp white oaks in key areas to stimulate the growth of viburnums, elderberry, and gray and silky dogwood growing on the forest floor: these shrubs also provide excellent cover for woodcock.

An active beaver colony will feed on the regrowing aspen and alder, helping to keep it in an early successional state and prolonging its use as feeding and brood-rearing habitat by woodcock. A wide range of other birds will also be helped by the improvements in this streamside area.

The powerline next to the lowland site supports lowbush huckleberry and native grasses. The right-of-way will be managed to provide singing grounds for woodcock, as well as potential roosting habitat, and a place where ruffed grouse and wild turkey hens can lead their chicks to feed on insects.

Uphill from the powerline, the Game Commission has begun a 175-acre timber sale. As logged areas regrow in the future, the dense root sprouts, saplings, and seedlings will yield feeding and habitat for woodcock during the spring and fall migrations.

Funding and Partners

Pennsylvania Game Commission, Ruffed Grouse Society, Lion Country Supply, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Wildlife Management Institute.

How to Visit

The easiest entry point to SGL 278 is an unmarked gravel road. The road turns southeast off of South Eagle Valley Road (old U.S. Route 220) 5.5 miles south of the traffic light in Port Matilda, just south of the Centre-Blair county line, and about 100 yards north of Lion Country Supply, a retail and mail-order business for hunting and dog-training equipment. The access road crosses over the railroad track, then makes a sharp right turn and heads southwest about 200 yards to an informal parking area. The habitat improvements for woodcock begin just beyond the parking area.

For more information, contact the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Northcentral Division regional office at 570-398-4744.