Welcome to 2021: Greetings Adirondack hunters, and Happy New Year. Deer season sure goes by quick. I hope you had a good one. Although I didn’t get my Adirondack buck this year the Iron Sight Gang has nothing to complain about. I was able to top my freezer off with a nice doe taken near my home in northern Washington County. Although the areas we spend most of our hunting time in are less populated, that is not the case here and next year’s gardens will be grateful for this harvest. Let’s hope for some safe ice soon for ice anglers or maybe some time out small game hunting. We’ll be checking in on the deer herd as winter progresses as well.
New York Outdoor News is surely keeping me busy. Gathering, editing and publishing news items from the outdoor world is interesting beyond my imagination and in the professional world there’s been little time for anything else. As for the status of ADKHunter, we’re keeping things going for now and plan to going forward. There may be some delays in processing things such as photos, but we will do our best to keep up.
The early snow and cold weather are providing good conditions for winter outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks, Catskills, and other backcountry areas, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today. Visitors should be prepared with proper clothing and equipment for snow, ice, and cold to ensure a safe and enjoyable winter experience.
Snow depths range greatly in the central and northeastern Adirondacks, with the deepest snows in the higher elevations like the High Peaks region and other mountains over 3,000 feet. Snow depths are thinner in the southeastern and northwestern Adirondacks. Much of the Catskill Mountains are covered in snow, with icy trail conditions.
DEC recommends visitors to the backcountry carry snowshoes and trekking poles and use them when snow depths warrant. Snowshoes or skis ease travel on snow and prevent “post holing,” which can ruin trails and cause sudden falls resulting in injuries. Crampons or other traction devices should be carried for use on icy portions of the trails including summits and other exposed areas. An ice axe may be necessary above tree line in the High Peaks. Forest Rangers strongly advise that current trail conditions will make travel without properly fitting traction devices extremely difficult. Check out DEC’s website for further details on traction devices. Continue reading →
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced a 60-day joint public comment period on the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for the Debar Mountain Complex (DMC) Draft Unit Management Plan and a proposal to reclassify approximately 41 acres of the Wild Forest as Intensive Use. APA and DEC encourage the public to comment on the draft GEIS and reclassification proposal before the end of the comment period on Feb.12, 2021.
Debar Mountain Complex is located in the towns of Brighton, Duane, Franklin, Santa Clara, and Waverly (Franklin County). The complex includes the Debar Mountain Wild Forest, Deer River Primitive Area, and Madawaska Flow/Quebec Brook Primitive Area. The unit spans approximately 88,000 acres in total, divided into several non-contiguous segments. The area provides for a wide range of year-round recreational activities, including hiking, camping, paddling, fishing, hunting, biking, skiing, snowmobiling, and more.
Proposed management actions include:
Creation of a Day Use Area at Debar Pond, which includes the removal of the historic Debar Lodge (and associated structures), reclassification from Wild Forest to Intensive Use, building a picnic area, and establishing trail connections to develop a recreation hub;
Construction of new trail systems and the establishment of long-distance trails to connect the existing trail systems. There are about 53.4 miles of new trail proposed, including 40 miles which will be open for mountain bike use;
The closure of 9.3 miles of seldom-used snowmobile routes and the addition of 2.9 miles of new snowmobile trail, including network connections to nearby snowmobile trails;
Construction of new parking areas and improvements to current parking areas to accommodate public access to the area;
Improving access to several waterbodies by formalizing traditional access points;
Improving recreational access for persons with disabilities throughout the unit by incorporating accessible features at the Debar Pond Day Use Area, including picnic tables, fireplaces, restrooms, trails, and a water access site, improving a trail to accessible standards near Buck Pond, and upgrading primitive tent sites to accessible standards; and
Bringing the entire camping system into compliance with setback requirements of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan through a combination of relocation, closure, and creation of new primitive tent sites.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced the release of a draft Deer Management Plan for New York State for public review and comment. The plan builds upon the progress made by DEC’s first deer management plan, released in 2011, and will guide DEC’s deer management actions to balance natural resource protection, public safety, and recreational and economic interests for the next 10 years. The draft plan is available on DEC’s website and public comments will be accepted through Dec. 28, 2020.
The plan includes proposals for extending legal hunting hours to be from one half our before sunrise until one half hour after sunset. It also contains a proposed regulation change to extend the late bow and muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone to include the period from December 26 to January 1. DEC received several thousand comments through Nov. 8, 2020 on this proposed regulation, and those comments are presently under review as part of that public regulatory process.
The draft plan details a new method for setting deer population objectives that integrates an assessment of deer impacts on forests with public preferences for deer population changes. It emphasizes new and adaptive approaches for harvesting antlerless deer by recommending strategic hunting season and tag changes in rural landscapes where additional harvest is needed and developing new opportunities for community-based deer management in suburban and urban landscapes.
A summary of the accomplishments from the first plan, many of which have become integrated into DEC’s deer management program, is also included. In addition, the plan provides greater transparency into the processes behind deer management including the methodology for setting Deer Management Permit (DMP, antlerless tag) quotas and the calculations for estimating annual deer harvest totals. Finally, this plan identifies a series of statutory recommendations that would improve deer management capacity throughout New York.
Significant elements of the Draft Plan include:
Establishing desired deer population trajectories (more deer, fewer deer, stay the same) for 23 regions of the state by aggregating existing deer management units, including deer impacts on forest regeneration with new tools like AVID (see below), and considering public preferences for deer population change;
Monitoring deer populations for diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease and taking steps to reduce disease risk;
Recommending several hunting-related changes to provide additional hunter opportunity such as a Southern Zone holiday hunt, special seasons to meet local objectives, and increasing antlerless harvest where deer population reduction is warranted;
Maintaining a voluntary approach for letting young bucks go and re-evaluating the existing mandatory antler restriction program for consistency with hunter values and management objectives;
Encouraging voluntary use of non-lead ammunition (such as copper) by deer hunters to reduce human and wildlife exposure to lead by ingestion;
Pursuing regulatory mechanisms to improve the Deer Management Assistance Program and Deer Damage Permit program so landowners and municipalities can reduce deer damage and deer-human conflicts;
Providing technical assistance for community-based deer management including local hunting programs, suburban/urban hunter-training workshops, and other management tools;
Exploring the potential for a small grants program to assist communities in developing local deer management plans and implementing actions from those plans;
Promoting the Assessing Vegetation Impacts of Deer (AVID) protocol for citizen science monitoring of deer browse impacts on forests; and
Better understanding and addressing public values and interests regarding deer populations, impacts, and deer management decisions.
Comments on the draft plan should be sent to email@example.com (using “Deer Plan” in the subject line) or by mail to: DEC Deer Management Plan, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754. The public comment period closes on Dec. 28, 2020. After reviewing public comments on this draft, DEC will amend the plan before adopting and publishing a final version. Some recommendations will require new or amended state regulations and these regulatory proposals will be subject to an additional public comment period during the formal rulemaking process.
State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced a new statewide photo and essay contest for hunters and trappers to share stories about why they hunt or trap in New York State. Photos and essays submitted will be used to support DEC’s ongoing efforts to introduce more New Yorkers to hunting and trapping.
Participating hunters and trappers may submit photos and essays in one of the following categories:
Youth (under 17, non-first year);
First-year hunters (youth);
First-year hunters (adult); and
Adults (non first-year).
Each contestant may submit up to two photos with their essay entry. DEC staff will select the best photo/essay in each category. Winners’ essays and photos will appear in the 2021-2022 New York Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide, which is read by more than half a million people each year.
Essays should be non-fiction, original material (not previously published), and told from a first-person perspective;
Essays should be no less than 50 words and no more than 500 words;
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has released the State’s final Trout Stream Management Plan that will improve the management of trout streams across the state. The final plan is the product of extensive public engagement and sound science that embraces simplicity, encourages angler participation, and recognizes the value of managing trout streams for self-sustaining populations of wild trout. In addition, to support implementation of the Trout Stream Management Plan, today DEC issued proposed regulations that are available for public comment until Jan. 25, 2021.
Significant aspects of the plan are the result of more than 20 public meetings held with anglers in 2017 to identify desired outcomes for the state’s numerous and diverse trout streams. The plan covers a broad spectrum of management areas and angler interests associated with trout stream management in New York. To view the plan and the categorization of managed trout stream reaches visit DEC’s website.
The management plan draws a distinct line between stocked and wild trout management and prioritizes habitat management as the primary tool to improve and restore wild populations of trout. It also creates the foundation to learn and build upon for continuous improvement of the State’s trout stream fisheries resources, solidifying DEC’s commitment to protecting and promoting the health of wild trout fisheries.
The plan also takes into consideration the hundreds of thousands of New York anglers who enjoy the State’s ongoing stocking efforts and balances protecting natural populations while supporting a robust hatchery network and partnerships that expand recreational opportunities and meet anglers’ diverse needs. The plan extends the duration of stocking on select stream reaches, increases the size of stocked fish, and ensures that each stocking contains some fish that are 12 inches or larger. It also seeks to improve the vigor of hatchery brown trout for increased survival.
Anglers would also be provided with the ability to fish year-round through the creation of a statewide catch-and-release season. DEC has preliminarily concluded that fishing during the spawning season will not result in negative fishery impacts, and DEC will evaluate the potential impact of the catch-and-release season with a study on select streams.
DEC seeks continued angler engagement to support efforts moving forward, including developing a new angler-friendly interactive map for information on stream reach management and fishing access locations. DEC will also expand public outreach about the significance of wild trout populations and the water they inhabit.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing changes to black bass (smallmouth and largemouth bass) fishing regulations to make these regulations easier to understand while continuing to successfully manage these species for future angler enjoyment. DEC is accepting public comment on the proposed elimination of “any size” and 10-inch minimum size limit regulations for black bass from many rivers throughout the state, as well as Lake Colby in Franklin County, Moose Pond in Essex County, and Lake Champlain. The proposal replaces these unnecessary special size limits with the statewide 12-inch-minimum black bass size limit.
Some rivers and streams in New York are currently managed under a 10-inch minimum size limit regulation to allow harvest of black bass populations generally believed to not grow as large as their lake and pond counterparts. However, a recent Black Bass 10-inch Minimum Size Limit Evaluation study found no differences in the size structures or growth of smallmouth bass in rivers managed under this regulation and those from rivers and lakes managed under the statewide 12-inch minimum size limit. Smallmouth bass were the focus of the evaluation because they are more prevalent in rivers and streams than largemouth bass. There is no need to maintain the reduced minimum size limit in these rivers.
Lake Champlain is recognized as one of the best black bass lakes in the country and DEC found no justification to continue to regulate it with a minimum size limit less restrictive than the statewide 12-inch minimum size limit. “Any size” regulations for black bass in Lake Colby (Franklin County), Moose Pond (Essex County), Catatonk Creek (Tioga County), and Fall Creek (Tompkins County) are also considered unnecessary.
The regulatory proposal is available on the DEC website for review and public comment. Comments on the proposal should be submitted via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or via mail to the Inland Fisheries Section, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753; subject line “Black Bass Regulations.” Comments will be accepted through Jan. 23, 2021.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that a 0.3-mile trail has been completed in the Cedarlands Conservation Easement Tract, located in the town of Long Lake, Hamilton County. The trail connects the public parking lot with a canoe put-in on the northeast shore of Mud Pond, providing a shorter route to the pond and easier access to three primitive campsites established on the easement earlier this year.
Two campsites are located on the east side of Mud Pond and one on the north shore. The tent-only sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved. Designated sites are marked with a yellow “Camp Here” disc. The 590-acre Mud Pond Area, which is open to public use year-round, also offers hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, hunting, and winter recreation opportunities. Campers and other visitors to the Cedarlands Conservation Easement are reminded to carry out what they carry in, be careful with campfires, and follow the seven Principles of Leave No Trace.
The 4,890-acre Cedarlands Conservation Easement Tract features two water bodies, Mud Pond and McRorie Lake (previously known as Rock Pond), and two prominent mountains, Rock Pond Mountain and Mud Pond Mountain. The public portion of the easement lands is divided into the Mud Pond Area and the 3,300-acre McRorie Lake Area, which is open to public use from August 24 through June 23. An additional designated campsite and a lean-to are located on the shores of McRorie Lake. There is no public use of the adjacent Base Camp Area.
There are more than 900,000 acres of conservation easement lands managed by DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests in New York State. Conservation easements are partnerships between DEC and private landowners wherein the private landowner retains the right to manage the property for purposes such as sustainable timber production while providing additional outdoor recreation opportunities for the public and protecting open space by limiting development. Before visiting a conservation easement please review the specific regulations that apply to that place. Additional information about public recreation opportunities on the Cedarlands Conservation Easement Tract can be found on DEC’s website.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released a final Recreation Management Plan (RMP) for the Croghan Tract Conservation Easement. The Croghan Tract Conservation Easement is comprised of 12,816 acres of private forestland in the towns of Croghan and Watson in Lewis County.
Included in the final RMP is an inventory of natural and man-made resources and various opportunities for public recreation:
Continued use of 11 miles of road and the opening of an additional 5.3 miles of road to access the Croghan Tract and adjacent Forest Preserve lands;
Designation and construction of 11 parking areas;
Maintenance of 27.2 miles of snowmobile routes, including rights-of-way and secondary trails to serve as alternative routes during logging operations. Changes to the current snowmobile network include a reroute away from a hunting camp (0.3 miles), and a new trail to avoid plowed roads during logging operations (3.4 miles);
Construction of a 0.6 -mile foot trail to access the Eagle Canyon forest preserve parcel;
Designation of nine campsites including two accessible campsites;
An accessible car-top boat launch at Soft Maple Reservoir;
Access to hunting, fishing, and trapping throughout the property, subject to applicable seasons and regulations; and
New informational signage at primary access points.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that a new online bowhunter education certification course opens today, July 15, 2020. A bowhunter education course is required for all hunters who use a bow and arrow to hunt deer or bear. All hunters must also complete a mandatory hunter education course before purchasing a hunting license.
To take the online course and receive a bowhunter education certificate, you must be a New York State resident. The cost of the course is $30. The course can be accessed at https://www.bowhunter-ed.com/newyork/. The online course will be available through August 31, 2020.
All in-person bowhunter education courses have been cancelled this year during the State’s ongoing response to COVID-19. The online course provides an opportunity for new archery hunters to get their required bowhunter education certificates before the fall hunting seasons begin. Since the April 15 launch of DEC’s new online hunter education course, more than 30,000 people have completed the course. Nearly 70 percent of those completing the online course are 21 or over, and almost 40 percent are women.
DEC’s Hunter Education Program is partnering with Kalkomey Enterprises, a company that specializes in hunter education, to offer online courses that can be completed in six to eight hours. The online course covers all the topics of the traditional in-person course including bow safety, tree stand safety, hunting ethics, wildlife conservation, and New York State hunting laws and regulations.
Students who successfully complete the online bowhunter education course and pass the final exam will receive their bowhunter education certificate. The course is available to individuals aged 11 years and older, but only those 12 or older may purchase a hunting license. Students can complete the courses from a computer, tablet, or smart phone at any time.