Resend: February 2017 Outdoor Discovery Newsletter

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
DEC Delivers - Information to keep you connected and informed from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
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A man cross-country skiing

A Complete Trail to Connect All of New York

Person on biking riding over a bridge

For those who used to dream of hiking, biking, walking or cross country skiing across the state, that dream is coming true. Governor Andrew Cuomo recently proposed the creation of a 750-mile, multi-use Empire State Trail that would provide a full path from New York Harbor up through the Adirondacks to the Canadian border and from the shores of Lake Erie to the heart of the Capital Region. Once completed-scheduled for 2020-the trail would be the nation's largest multi-use trail network.

In addition to supporting recreation, the fully connected trail system will allow users to more easily access and enjoy many State natural treasures, including heritage sites, beautiful landscapes, tourist attractions and scenic lands and waters. It will promote healthy activities, while also boosting regional economies.

For those who already enjoy using New York's extensive, but unconnected, trail system, you'll soon be able to plan adventures even more sites and attractions that will be accessible without a motor.

Hike of the Month: Peavine Swamp Ski Trail

Some people cross-country skiing

St. Lawrence County
The northwestern parcel of Cranberry Lake Wild Forest consists of 7,535 acres and contains the 8.5-mile Peavine Swamp Ski Trail. This trail includes three loops, and the last half of it passes through lands that have never been significantly harvested. Consequently, large specimens of hardwoods, red spruce and eastern hemlock are common. Abundant snow can make the otherwise relatively easy terrain challenging, especially if it's necessary to break trail. The Lean-to Spur Trail is short and mostly downhill. It leads to a wonderful lean-to, which sits on the shore of the Oswegatchie River and is a great spot for having lunch or a hot beverage.

New Investments to Improve Outdoor Recreation

People with a tent at a campground.

New proposals announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo's in his 2017 State of the State message would expand access to the New York's magnificent lands and waters, and upgrade DEC campgrounds and recreational facilities, and New York State Parks.

Under the Adventure NY program, DEC would receive an additional $70 million in NY Works funding to address critical infrastructure needs, including rehabilitating campgrounds, building additional trails, constructing boat launches and wildlife viewing platforms. The projects would be universally accessible.

This effort builds on recent investments in 50 DEC land and water access projects, which provided access to more than 380,000 acres of state and conservation easement lands, and expanded opportunities for hunters, anglers and families enjoy of New York's spectacular natural resources.

An additional $120 million is earmarked for continuing work through NY Parks 2020, a multi-year commitment to restore and modernize State Park facilities, expand access, add signage, and enhance the visitor experience.

Creating a Gateway to the Adirondacks

New York State will partner with environmental organizations and local Adirondack communities to develop a new "Gateway to the Adirondacks" in the town of North Hudson, at the southeastern edge of the High Peaks area.

A recently approved master plan outlines development strategies for a $32-million public/private investment to create a world-class recreation and tourism hub on the 300-acre, former Frontier Town theme park site. The plan includes a new DEC campground and day-use area along the Schroon River, a Visitors Information Center to introduce visitors to the array of recreation opportunities available in the region, and an event center with tourist accommodations. Other projects for the Gateway include an equestrian camping and trail riding area, a brewery and saloon, and interactive exhibits located in an historic structure that will highlight Adirondack industries and products.

Camp Santanoni Winter Weekends

Some people snowshoeing

Newcomb, Essex County
DEC and partners host three annual Winter Weekend events at Camp Santanoni, providing a rare opportunity during the season to see inside the buildings at this historic great camp. Although one event weekend has passed, two remain-February 18-20 and March 18 and 19. For those who don't have their own skis or snowshoes, the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) loans snowshoes for free at the Gate Lodge.

Camp Santanoni offers a 9.8-mile round-trip cross-country ski excursion. It begins at the Gate Lodge Complex and goes to the remote lakeside Main Camp Complex. Skiers and snowshoers can visit both lodges, view displays about Camp Santanoni and take interpretive tours with Adirondack Architectural Heritage staff. The Artist's Studio, a stone building near the main lodge on the shores of Newcomb Lake, will be open as a warming hut. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own cups for complimentary coffee, tea or hot chocolate while enjoying the wood stove.

A half-mile trail connects Camp Santanoni to the nearby AIC's 3.6-mile trail system. On event weekends, the center's buildings are open from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Watchable Wildlife: Lime Hollow Nature Center

People viewing wildlife

Cortland, Cortland County
Lime Hollow Center for Environment and Culture encompasses nearly 430 acres of beautiful and varied habitats, with 12 miles of easily accessible and well-maintained trails over gentle terrain. More than 200 species of birds have been spotted at the center, and, on a crisp winter night, visitors on snowshoes can join a Lime Hollow naturalist to listen for great-horned, barred and screech owls.

Look for beavers, foxes, cottontail rabbits and white-tailed deer along the trails, which are open for snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. There are viewing platforms in the wetland area, as well as a waterfowl blind. On colder days, stay inside the Visitor Center with its bird sanctuary viewing room. The center is wheelchair accessible.

Try Lake Shore Marshes Wildlife Management Area for Cottontails

A cottontail rabbit in the snow

Wayne County
Lake Shore Marshes Wildlife Management Area (WMA), on the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario in Wayne County, provides acres of abundant cottontail rabbit hunting. This WMA has seven separate management units, each with habitat perfect for cottontails. Cold, snowy January is a great time to bag your limit. Check DEC's Small Game Seasons and Lake Shore Marshes webpages for more information. Have a safe and successful time afield!

Nature Notes

Rabbits survive the winter by using thick shrubbery or underground burrows to protect themselves from cold temperatures. Their diet changes to bark, twigs and buds.

Safe and Sound: Rangers Find Hikers Lost in High Peaks

Two hikers left the Adirondak Loj Trailhead to hike to the summit of Algonquin Peak in the High Peaks Wilderness, Town of Keene, Essex County. That evening, DEC received a call from concerned family members reporting that they had not had any communication from the hikers. DEC forest rangers were immediately dispatched to the trailhead, where they located the pair's vehicle. The rangers searched the trail up Algonquin Mountain and down the other side to Lake Colden until 3:45 AM.

The next day, more than 20 rangers searched over 40 miles of trails and drainage systems in the area. Snow, clouds, and wind prevented the use of aviation resources and made search conditions difficult. Searchers faced below-freezing temperatures, wind chills below zero, and three feet or more of snow.

After two nights, forest rangers located the hikers on the summit of Algonquin Mountain. They wrapped them in warming blankets and prepared them for evacuation. Cloud cover delayed helicopter operations for a time, but the pair were safely evacuated.

When the High Peaks Wilderness Area has eight or more inches of snow, visitors are required to use snowshoes or cross-country skis for their safety.

DEC's Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife App

app promo

Looking for an outdoor adventure close to home this spring? Download DEC's Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife App. Using the app's advanced GPS features, you will be able to identify and locate New York State's many hunting, fishing and wildlife watching sites.

Upcoming DEC Events



Conservationist Magazine

Cover of the February 2017 issue of Conservationist Magazine

Don't miss the February issue of Conservationist magazine. In it, you'll be riveted by the daring winter rescue of two lost hikers on Algonquin Peak, and learn how the once-contaminated Buffalo River has been cleaned up and is undergoing an economic renaissance. Enjoy the beautiful photography of Joe LeFevre celebrating New York's timeless beauty, and read about phenology: tracking the natural events occurring all around us. You can also learn about maple sugaring and teaching your dog to locate shed antlers.

There's all this and much more in the February Conservationist. Don't miss it! Subscribe online or call 1-800-678-6399.

Photo Credits


  • Lime Hollow Nature Center, Ohio Department of Natural Resources
  • Cottontail rabbit, Ohio Department of Natural Resources


February 2017DEC Outdoor Discovery Newsletter © New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

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